As the former bag man for the Republican Party, Jack Abramoff, serves a federal jail sentence his wife and five kids are apparently languishing just above the poverty line in a house they can’t afford with a leaky roof.
The Washington Post reports tonight that Abramoff’s lawyers are petitioning the federal government to release – to them – a $500,000 tax refund owed Abramoff by the federal government. Ostensibly, this is so Abramoff can pay his bills. How much you want to bet that those first in line to be paid are Abramoff’s attorneys?
The Post also points out that Abramoff is under a court order to make restitution to Indian tribes he bilked out of tens of millions before any of his assets go anywhere.
Jack Abramoff and his lawyers should go pound salt. His wife and kids on the other hand, someone needs to sack up and take care of them.
How do you think it was in Abramoff’s heyday? Jack had all the access to most of the levers of power and was the crown prince of Tom DeLay’s K Street Project. He made a ton of money and he made a lot of other people money through opening doors and working his once ample Rolodex. Jack used his connections and when time and events were right, his connections used him.
I’m sure it was all smiles and backslaps and cocktails.
Fast forward to Abramoff’s undoing and in the time it takes to chomp the olive off the end of the little plastic sword, Jack’s got no friends.
Here’s an idea for Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed, former Abramoff confidantes and eternal fucknuts. Guys, why don’t you pull out your “family values” talking points, circa 1994, and begin calling your friends. Try Dr. Dobson, Tom DeLay, Newt — call ‘em all. Take up a collection, pass the hat. For goodness sake, take care of Jack’s wife and kids.
If you’re afraid firing up the old Christian Coalition phone bank will attract too much attention, how about the two of you pooling your resources and getting Mrs. Abramoff’s roof fixed?
You know, when I read the Post story tonight I wasn’t surprised about lawyers trying to bleed the last $500,000 out of Jack Abramoff. I guess I’m not surprised about the Republican “family” not helping out Mrs. Abramoff — just disgusted.
Last week the Pew Center for the People and the Press released the latest in a series of polls going back to the late eighties measuring political values and core attitudes in the American public. From business and Wall Street to social issues, the poll is a snapshot of where the polity stands today four months into a new presidency. One of the interesting points made by the report writers and the data is that the waning fortunes of the Republican Party do not necessarily mean the demise of conservatism in America. Go check out the entire report here.
In the partisan heat of Washington, our new president has gone to some lengths to take a log or two off the fire. Barack Obama has been met time after time with the back of the hand from the GOP. Now, days before Obama’s first nomination to the Supreme Court, Kyl is out there talking filibuster. Hell, he doesn’t even know who the nominee will be. For all he knows it will be Pat Buchanan. (Buchanan does show some empathy for the middle class.)
But no. Sen. Kyl is just unimaginative enough to grab a headline the easy way. He’s there in the middle of the Republican fire base cranking the air raid siren. Hopefully calling attention to nothing more than his brutish sense of politics.
The Senate’s No. 2 Republican on Sunday refused to rule out a filibuster if President Barack Obama seeks a Supreme Court justice who decides cases based on “emotions or feelings or preconceived ideas.”
Sen. Jon Kyl made clear he would use the procedural delay if Obama follows through on his pledge to nominate someone who takes into account human suffering and employs empathy from the bench. The Arizona Republican acknowledged that his party likely does not have enough votes to sustain a filibuster, but he said nonetheless he would try to delay or derail the nomination if Obama ventures outside what Kyl called the mainstream.
“We will distinguish between a liberal judge on one side and one who doesn’t decide cases on the merits but, rather, on the basis of his or her preconceived ideas,” Kyl said.
Sorry … took the video down because it plays automatically when page loads which is freakin’ annoying. If you want to watch the interview, go here.
If you want more fun and excitement visit the All That Natters homepage.
Former Secy of State Gen. Colin Powell is appearing on Face the Nation today. An advance by CBS contains the quotes that follow. Whatever. Powell still thinks of himself as a Republican. He should have hit back hard at Limbaugh and Cheney if he believes they are hurting his party. You can hit hard without stooping to their smug level. I wish Powell wasn’t so diplomatic.
“I am still a Republican. I’d like to point out that in the course of my 50 years of voting for presidents, I have voted for the person i thought was best qualified at that time to lead the nation.
Last year I thought it was President-now Barack Obama,” Powell said.
Powell said the Republican party needs a new look if it wants to stay relevant.
“I think the Republican party has to take a hard look at itself and decide what kind of party are we?” he said.
“I have always felt that the Republican party should be more inclusive than it generally has been over the years.
Powell also addressed criticism from conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, saying his assertion that Powell only voted for President Obama because “he is black” was “unfortunate.”
Ron Brownstein and the National Journal tackles with data what most of us who follow politics know – the Grand Old Party is moving toward becoming a regional political party.
A look at the 2008 final electoral map is telling, but one can’t make a sweeping pronouncement based on one election. Brownstein’s well-researched, thoughtful piece is worth a read. Along with the graphic below, there is an interactive chart where you can pick an era and see the Republican Party’s share of the vote inside and outside the South.
The Internets buzzed a bit about this video which was released during the past week by the Republican National Committee. The video was pulled off of YouTube after the media coverage. Of course, someone copied it and here it is if you missed it.
(Source: NBC’s Meet the Press)
MR. DAVID GREGORY: Our issues this Sunday: warring parties. Democrats and Republicans at odds over the economy, national security, abortion and health care. This morning, whether President Obama’s agenda is the blueprint for lasting Democratic rule or an example of overreach that will allow Republicans to chart the course back to power. With us for their first Sunday morning showdown as party chairs, the Democratic National Committee’s Tim Kaine and the Republican National Committee’s Michael Steele square off on the many issues that divide their two parties.
Bloomberg reports today that Congressional Republicans may actually try to get beyond the theocrats’ iron grip on their party.
California Representative Kevin McCarthy, the chief recruiter for House Republicans, said he wants his party to select candidates based less on ideology and more on their chances of winning. The goal, he said, is to seek out prospects who are ethnically diverse, female, less partisan and even supportive of abortion rights. So far, these efforts are more concept than reality. …
…“Have you read ‘The Thumpin’?” McCarthy, 44, asked, citing a book about Emanuel’s brass-knuckles approach to winning control of the House for Democrats in 2006. “This isn’t original thought.”
In the 2006 election, Emanuel, 49, recruited anti- abortion, pro-gun candidates such as Brad Ellsworth, 50, a sheriff in Indiana, and Heath Shuler, 37, a former NFL quarterback, in North Carolina. The premise: identify candidates whose views best mirror those of their districts’ constituents rather than Democratic Party orthodoxy.
The only way Democrats are in trouble in 2010 (given today’s landscape) is if the GOP resists continuing on as the Scopes Monkey Party.
Most Americans don’t spend their days obsessing over imposing Christian shari’a law on their neighbors, abortion and whether there’s a run on 7.62 mm down at the local gun store.
I sucked it up and clicked a link taking me to … dread … World NetDaily.
Pat Buchanan, GOP thinker, Conservative activist, and MSNBC talker spouts off today in a column where he calls for codifying the ‘Party of No’ lack of strategy.
Rather than debating what the national party position should be on foreign policy, health care, education, or social issues – which the party will decide when it chooses a nominee in 2012 – the GOP should focus now, and unite now, on what it will stand against.
I thought Pat was a bit more thoughtful than that …
(Source: NBC’s Meet the Press)
MR. GREGORY: We are back, and joining us live now from Philadelphia, the Senate’s newest Democrat, Arlen Specter.
Senator, welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.
SEN. SPECTER: Thank you, David. Nice to be with you.
MR. GREGORY: Thank you. Your decision–or since your decision there’s been some pretty big news. We’ll get to the reasons for your decision in just a moment. But I want to talk about the retirement of Justice Souter and the vacancy to the Supreme Court that President Obama will now fill. You have a fair amount of experience with this as the former Judiciary chairman, and you might return to that post even as a Democrat. So what kind of justice should President Obama be looking for?
SEN. SPECTER: He should be looking for someone with a strong academic and professional background. It would be my hope that he would choose someone with diversity. Women are underrepresented on the court. We don’t have an Hispanic. African-Americans are underrepresented. I would hope that he would look beyond the circuit courts of appeals which now populate the Supreme Court and pick someone with greater world experience and diversity.
The Washington Times is reporting this a.m. that a movement is afoot at the Republican National Committee to move much of Chairman Michael Steele’s spending authority to the organization’s treasurer and executive board.
The Times received a copy of an email Steele sent to the usurpers. In part, he writes:
In the e-mail, Mr. Steele said the resolution “amounts to nothing short of a completely unprecedented usurpation of the authority of the RNC chairman, and a transfer of the chairman’s authority to the executive committee and the treasurer. No RNC chairman has ever had to deal with this, and I certainly have no intention of putting up with it either.”
It’s one thing for their to be some public wrangling over the GOP message. The Party just had its ass handed to it six months ago. Things are real bad when the governance structure is under attack and crumbling. How long has Steele been chairman? Is it five or ten minutes?
Another sign of the fall: Republican luminaries Jeb Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney and others are setting up the “National Council for a New America,” in a bid to begin rebranding Republicans.
(Source: White House Press Office)
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Mr. President, as we used to say in the Senate, I hope you’ll excuse a point of personal privilege here. I — Arlen Specter has been my friend and my confidant and my partner, and I his partner, in scores and scores of major, major pieces of legislation and issues for a long time. And beyond that, Mr. President, he’s been there for me every time things have been tough for me, and I hope I have been there for him.
And it gives me great pleasure, great pleasure, Mr. President, to now officially be in the same caucus with Arlen Specter. We’ve ridden the train for so many years, we’ve visited each other’s homes, our families, that it is — it’s just, as, again, a point of personal privilege, it’s just a delight to have no separation.
(Source: CNN)PHILLIPS: Well, you can still feel the shock waves here in Washington. It was our top story today, longtime Republican Senator Arlen Specter turning his back on his Republican Party, a party he had been part of for decades, and going Democrat. Reaction within the Republican Party, our Dana Bash said “shell shocked” was the feeling.
I can imagine what RNC Chair Michael Steele is feeling. He’s joining me by phone in Irving, Texas.
Chairman, let me ask you, are you surprised? Are you shocked?
MICHAEL STEELE, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE (via telephone): No, I’m not, to be honest with you. No, I’m not. I had a feeling. I mean, he had very — Senator Specter had very few options at this point. He had stepped on the toes of a lot of Republicans with his vote to on the stimulus bill, which was a core principle for us in terms of our views on economics.
And you know, admittedly, a lot of Republicans weren’t happy about the end of the Bush administration in terms of putting in motion this bailout process. But to have the senator confirm that, really, you know, made it tough. And so, I think he saw that tough primary challenges coming ahead for him. I think he also saw a tough re- election in a general election.
And to me, this was not a question of, oh, gee, all of a sudden I found principles as a Democrat. This is about political survival, and this is about, you know, taking advantage of an opportunity and, you know, moving a little bit closer to where he’s ideologically planted. That’s perfectly fine. But, you know, from our perspective, I think this is less about, you know, some philosophical issue as it is more of a political survivor issue.
(Source: CQ Transcriptswire)SPEAKER: SEN. ARLEN SPECTER, D-PA.
SPECTER: As the Republican Party has moved farther and farther to the right, I have found myself increasingly at odds with the Republican philosophy and more in line with the philosophy the Democratic Party. When the stimulus package came up for a vote, I felt that it was indispensable to vote aye in order to avoid the possibility of a 1929-type depression. In the course of the last several months since the stimulus vote, I have traveled the state and surveyed the sentiments of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania and public opinion polls, observed other public opinion polls and have found that the prospects for winning a Republican primary are bleak.
I am not prepared to have my 29-year record in the United States Senate decided by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate — not prepared to have that record decided by that jury, the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate.
- Specter joins Democrats – New York Times
In a statement issued about noon as the Capitol was digesting the stunning turn of events, Mr. Specter said he had concluded that his party had moved too far to the right, a fact demonstrated by the migration of 200,000 Pennsylvania Republicans to the Democratic Party.
“I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans,” Mr. Specter said, acknowledging that his decision was certain to disappoint colleagues and supporters.
- Sen. Specter will switch parties – Philadelphia Enquirer
- Dems near filibuster-proof majority in Senate – Washington Post
- Wake up call for GOP – Washington Post
Polling out today tests whether or not Texas Gov. Rick Perry is out ahead of the pack with talk of Texas’ right to secede from the Union.
The latest Rasmussen Reports polling in Texas says today that:
- 75% of Texas voters would opt to keep the state part of the United States
- 18% would vote to secede
- 31% believe Texas does have the right to secede
Perry distinguished himself as Teabagger in Chief earlier this week when he held a press conference reaffirming Texas’ rights as a state under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Consititution. On Wednesday, he told a reporter essentially said that Texas has no immediate plans to secede, but the option is there for Texans as they are an “independent lot.”
No matter what you think about the protests on Tax Day this week, Perry is making the wrong political call in lining himself up with the fringe on the right. He faces a primary election for another term against fellow Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson. With Hutchinson’s long history of serving Texas in the Senate and her solid conservative credentials, that’s a tough fight. Perry is probably thinking he has to cut hard to the right to win that fight.
He might turning too sharply, too soon.
Ostensibly on Fox News Sunday to talk about re-branding the Republican Party, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich let the world know today that he’s still just as faux-intellectually nutty as ever.
You see, Gingrich would have just blown that pesky North Korean rocket off the launch pad two or three days ago. From a transcript of the show:
WALLACE: … Mr. Gingrich, before today’s launch, you said the North Koreans should not be allowed to fire a missile and that the U.S., quote, “should take whatever preemptive actions are necessary.” Are you saying that “President Gingrich” would have taken out that missile on the launch pad?
GINGRICH: Yes, I’m saying if you look at the new book by my co- author Bill Fortune called “One Second After,” and you look at electromagnetic pulse capabilities, which can take out — one weapon could take out a third of the electric generating capacity of the United States.
We do not appreciate the scale of threat that is evolving on the planet, and North Korea is a totally irresponsible dictatorship run by a person who is clearly out of touch with reality, and I think to say, you know, we’re now going to have another meeting at the U.N. to have another paper resolution that has meaningless effect is very dangerous.
I think both with Iran and with North Korea, you have countries which could decide at any morning to try to actually use their weapons.
WALLACE: So you’re saying that “President Gingrich” would have taken out that…
GINGRICH: There are — there are three or four techniques that could have been used, from unconventional forces to standoff capabilities, to say we’re not going to tolerate a North Korean missile launch, period.
I mean, the world’s either got to decide that North Korea is utterly dangerous — and again, I’d recommend — look at electromagnetic pulse, which changes — which we’ve known about since 1958. It changes every equation about how risky these weapons are.
Ahh, Newt. That same smug, all-knowing air is still all about him. Just like 1994, only this time he’s expounding on actions that could put us at odds with China and see North Korea’s million-man army pouring into downtown Seoul.
Today’s flailing about by Congressional Republicans while trying to get their stuff together on the budget is telling.
These poor folks haven’t figured out that we don’t really care what their plans or blueprints are to solve America’s biggest problems. They had their chance and they blew it. With the exception of allowing more permissiveness by bankers and brokers, President Barack Obama is doing what we elected him to do – big things like health care, a new energy future and long overdue tax breaks for the middle class.
The one thing they could be making political hay on but are as missing in action as Democrats, is the patent injustice in how Wall Street continues to be taken off the hook for totally screwing up the entire world economy. Perhaps they’re as beholden to the campaign cash that flows from the nation’s financial districts as the Democrats are – that’s the only plausible reason for such an unfair state of affairs.
My advice to Republicans goes like this: If you are serious about being the loyal opposition and doing something worthwhile for America, fight these bailouts. I don’t know a single soul in myown life that believes there is any accountability being sought from the AIGs and Citis of the world from the Obama Administration. The TALFs, PPIPs, TARPs and other assorted bailouts have one thing in common – when they fail taxpayers’ funds are gone. Even Treasury’s latest toxic asset program floats the private sector our money with no downside risk to investors.
Republicans have made a generation’s worth of headlines fighting the culture war, battling over ridiculous things like Terri Schiavo and homosexuality. How about if Republicans stood up for some values that truly all Americans believe in – fairness, level playing fields and consequences for companies that screw the entire country over.
The fact is, the GOP has no credibility on most public policy. However, there is a vacuum of representation in Washington for ordinary Americans and their money when it comes to bailing out the financial services industry. I would cheer a loyal opposition that doesn’t roll over and play dead for corporate bailouts even if they politically postured on everything else. I sure as hell wouldn’t become a Republican, but I’d at least respect the once respectable GOP.