RNC Chair Steele Evolves on Trusting Criminals

You’ve probably heard that Michael Steele is talking to the FBI about allegations that he misused campaign funds in his ’06 Senate campaign

Michael S. Steele, the newly elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, arranged for his 2006 Senate campaign to pay a defunct company run by his sister for services that were never performed, his finance chairman from that campaign has told federal prosecutors

Federal agents in recent days contacted Steele’s sister, a spokesman for Steele said yesterday.

The claim about the payment, one of several allegations by Alan B. Fabian, is outlined in a confidential court document. Fabian offered the information last March as he was seeking leniency for himself during plea negotiations on unrelated fraud charges. It is unclear how extensively his claims have been pursued. Prosecutors gave him no credit for cooperation when he was sentenced in October.

His spokesman says that’s just silly

Steele spokesman Curt Anderson said he did not know what information the federal agents were seeking, but he dismissed Fabian’s allegations as patently false. "It’s from, what, a convicted felon? And it has no substantiation in fact," he said.

Fabian’s claims emerge as Steele begins his new role at the RNC, where he oversees the raising and spending of hundreds of millions of dollars in party money. The former Maryland lieutenant governor has faced questions about his handling of campaign money in prior elections and was twice fined for missing filing deadlines.

 and Steele does too

"It’s not true," Steele told [George Stephanopoulos] on "This Week" Sunday.

"Those allegations were leveled by a convicted felon who was trying to get a reduced sentence on his conviction," Steele said…

"The thing about this George that is so frustrating to me, is that the Washington Post elevated this guy. And gave him credibility when no one else would. That’s disturbing.

Yeah. Who would elevate a criminal and give him credibility when no-one else would?

mike-tyson-for-michael-steel1.thumbnail.jpgsteele_king.thumbnail.jpgOther than Michael Steele, that is. Steele received prominent endorsements from Don King (numbers runner, two-time killer and expert on electoral politics in Maryland) and his former brother-in-law, convicted rapist Mike Tyson (formerly married to Steele’s sister, the pediatrician who provided the catering and web services at issue) (more…)

Nerve of Steele

Welcome to the game, RNC Chair Michael Steele

Blue-state moderate Michael Steele beat four more hardline GOP candidates Friday to become the first African-American chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Steele had his moment of fame at the Republican National Convention last year when he coined the "Drill Baby Drill" chant that was taken up by John McCain and Sarah Palin to push for more off-shore drilling.

With both parties now headed by African-Americans in Steele and President Obama, "we may at times find ourselves challenging people who share our color," Sharpton said.

Well, yeah. He’s got some experience in that area

The six Trailways motorcoaches draped in Ehrlich and Steele campaign banners rumbled down Interstate 95 just before dawn on Election Day.

On board, 300 mostly poor African Americans from Philadelphia ate doughnuts, sipped coffee and prepared to spend the day at the Maryland polls. After an early morning greeting from Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s wife, Kendel, they would fan out in white vans across Prince George’s County and inner-city Baltimore, armed with thousands of fliers that appeared to be designed to trick black Democrats into voting for the two Republican candidates.

The glossy fliers bore photos of black Democratic leaders on the front. Under the headline "Democratic Sample Ballot" were boxes checked in red for Ehrlich and Senate candidate Michael S. Steele, who were not identified as Republicans. Their names were followed by a long list of local Democratic candidates.

Ehrlich and Steele had already done much the same thing four years earlier

About 250 recruits, drawn by the promise of free meals and a day’s pay, participated in what one recruit later called a "scam from the start." The students didn’t get their meals, and they didn’t get paid. The homeless recruits also weren’t paid, and, that night, the van that had taken them at dawn to Prince George’s County and was supposed to transport them back to Washington, D.C. never showed up.

Some of the homeless workers reportedly staged a protest that night in front of the Democrats for Ehrlich headquarters in New Carrollton, Maryland. The next day, they enlisted legal help from the homeless center to get the money they had been promised. But the protest had alerted the state prosecutor, and when one of Ehrlich’s campaign workers finally showed up with the money, investigators were on hand to witness the homeless recruits being paid.

So how did the RNC Chairman explain running for office as a Democrat? (more…)

Obama vs. Rush?

warning: do not view this if bad taste disturbs you.

Obama vs. Rush? Well, some people see it that way

Politico has learned that tomorrow Americans United for Change, a liberal group, will begin airing radio ads in three states Obama won — Ohio, Pennsylvania and Nevada — with a tough question aimed at the GOP senators there: Will you side with Obama or Rush Limbaugh?

“Every Republican member of the House chose to take Rush Limbaugh’s advice,” says the narrator after playing the conservative talk radio giant’s declaration that he hopes Obama “fails.”

“Every Republican voted with Limbaugh — and against creating 4 million new American jobs. We can understand why a extreme partisan like Rush Limbaugh wants President Obama’s Jobs program to fail — but the members of Congress elected to represent the citizens in their districts? That’s another matter. Now the Obama plan goes to the Senate, and the question is: Will our Senator"—here the ad is tailored by state to name George Voinovich in Ohio, Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania, and John Ensign in Nevada—"side with Rush Limbaugh too?”

All kinds of people on both sides

As some White House-allied left-leaning groups begin running ads attacking GOP lawmakers who oppose President Obama’s stimulus package, the No. 2 Republican in the House of Representatives says an air war could threaten a spirit of bipartisanship.

“(Wednesday’s) vote was only the beginning of the process and House Republicans are committed to working with President Obama to find real economic solutions. We should not allow politics to destroy this process. Threats from unnamed White House sources undermine our national spirit of bipartisanship,” House GOP Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia who issued the statement of protest a day after the stimulus package passed in the House without a single GOP vote, including his own.

(more…)

Katrina Fried Rice

condi-rice.thumbnail.jpgSo it turns out that like most of us, Dr. Rice isn’t happy about how the whole Katrina thing worked out. Well, maybe not quite like most of us

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told hosts of ABC’s The View Thursday that she was angry with critics who charged that President Bush didn’t help victims of Katrina because they were black.

"What really did make me angry was the implication that some people made that somehow President Bush allowed this to happen because these people were black." Rice said. "And For somebody to say that about the President of the United States a President of the United States who I know well and a President of the United States who is my friend I was appalled and I couldn’t believe people didn’t challenge it."

Well, maybe people were busy (and really, read the rest)

Monday, August 29

7AM CDT — KATRINA MAKES LANDFALL AS A CATEGORY 4 HURRICANE

MORNING — BUSH CALLS SECRETARY CHERTOFF TO DISCUSS IMMIGRATION

MORNING — BUSH SHARES BIRTHDAY CAKE PHOTO-OP WITH SEN. JOHN MCCAIN

11AM CDT — BUSH VISITS ARIZONA RESORT TO PROMOTE MEDICARE DRUG BENEFIT

4:30PM CDT — BUSH TRAVELS TO CALIFORNIA SENIOR CENTER TO DISCUSS MEDICARE DRUG BENEFIT

8PM CDT — RUMSFELD ATTENDS SAN DIEGO PADRES BASEBALL GAME

8PM CDT — GOV. BLANCO AGAIN REQUESTS ASSISTANCE FROM BUSH:
“Mr. President, we need your help. We need everything you’ve got.”

LATE PM — BUSH GOES TO BED WITHOUT ACTING ON BLANCO’S REQUESTS

Tuesday, August 30 (more…)

Your Liberal Media–Bill Kristol Edition

In which a villager (h/t Digby) explains more than they meant to about how their business works

A source close to the Times familiar with the decision not to renew Kristol’s contract makes clear that his neoconservative ideology and viewpoints were not a problem—Kristol’s proximity to key Washington players ranging from Bush and Cheney to John McCain (whom he supported in 2000) was considered a distinct plus. His leading advocacy of the Iraq War also added to his appeal. Kristol was viewed as a mover and shaker whose ideas had ready impact on the political firmament in Washington.

The problems that emerged were more fundamental. Kristol’s writing wasn’t compelling or even very careful. He either lacked a talent for solid opinion journalism or wasn’t putting his heart into it. A give-away came in the form of four corrections the newspaper was forced to run over factual mistakes in the columns, creating an impression that they were rushed out without due diligence or attention to factual claims. A senior writer at Time magazine recounted to me a similar experience with Kristol following his stint in 2006-07. “His conservative ideas were cutting edge and influential,” I was told. “But his sloppy writing and failure to fact check what he wrote made us queasy.”

Mover! Shaker! Impact! Fresh! Important!

Sloppy. Wrong. (more…)

‘Cause the (Inaugural) Bible Tells Me So

taneybible.thumbnail.jpgSo, if you blinked yesterday, you probably missed the ginormous fuss over President Obama’s do-over of the oath of office. Apparently, in the rush to conciliate people who didn’t realize that he became president automatically at noon while the quartet was-or-wasn’t playing, the Obama family didn’t have time to dig their Bible out of their luggage, and Justice Roberts didn’t bring one. This, naturally, was Really Big News and led to a raft of speculations that he wasn’t really President, because, ZOMG, Bible! (naturally, there has been frantic activity on the Wikipedia entry dealing with this question).

Most of what you’ve probably read this week is wrong. So, a few things you may not have heard:

So the Bible? Wasn’t ever Lincoln’s Bible. Lincoln (the parallels here just pile up, don’t they?) had just arrived in Washington, and his Bible was in with his luggage. And the Justice who gave him the oath of office wasn’t, another parallel, a fan:

Carl Schurz, another political friend, watched the proceedings intently. "I saw Lincoln step forward to the desk upon which the Bible lay — his rugged face, appearing above all those surrounding him, calm and sad."

…As for 83-year-old Roger Taney, he said, "I saw the withered form of Chief Justice Taney, the author of the famous Dred Scott decision, that judicial compend of the doctrine of slavery, administer the oath of office to the first President elected on a distinct anti-slavery platform." Taney died in office three years later, and Lincoln filled the position with abolitionist Salmon Chase.

Taney, of course, was the Justice who wrote these words in the Dred Scott decision which denied citizenship to Americans of African descent (he claimed in the decision to only be talking about slaves and descendants of slaves, but pointed out that there were so few free black people that they didn’t matter): (more…)

A New Kind of History

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A new kind of history

Slaves—men of West African origin branded with Christian monikers like Tom, Peter, Ben, Harry, and Daniel—helped build the White House. Three were on loan from its chief architect, James Hoban. Construction began in 1792, and slaves worked as sawyers, quarrymen, carpenters, stonemasons, brickmakers. Such was the fabric of the new republic: twelve American Presidents owned slaves, eight of them while in office.

After emancipation and the Civil War, a handful of black men won seats in Congress, but, as the spirit of Jim Crow overwhelmed the promise of Reconstruction, white supremacy regained its hold. On January 29, 1901, the last of those black congressmen, George H. White, of North Carolina, stood in the well of the House and prophesied the miracle of reconciliation and justice:

This, Mr. Chairman, is perhaps the Negroes’ temporary farewell to the American Congress but let me say Phoenix-like he will rise up some day and come again. These parting words are on behalf of an outraged, heart-broken, bruised and bleeding, but God-fearing people. . . . The only apology I have for the earnestness with which I have spoken is that I am pleading for the life, the liberty, the future happiness, and manhood suffrage for one-eighth of the entire population of the United States.

On January 20th, an African-American family took occupancy of the White House. The President’s father was Kenyan, his mother a Kansan. The First Lady’s great-great-grandfather Jim Robinson worked as a slave on the Friendfield Plantation, in Georgetown, South Carolina, and is thought to be buried there in an unmarked grave.

The election of Barack Hussein Obama represents the culmination of the processes predicted by Representative White, forces that accelerated with the rise, in 1955, of the Second Reconstruction –– the civil-rights movement –– and the election and the appointment thereafter of hundreds of African-Americans to public office. It is cause not for self-congratulation but for celebration nonetheless.

There are many things that the Inauguration of Barack Obama will not mean—the complete eradication of racial prejudice; the disappearance of injustices of history still made manifest in the everyday statistics of employment, education, and incarceration––but it can only instill in the American people a sense of possibility and progress.

Inaugural Nonsense on the Right

The problem with PEBO’s inaugural festivities for the usual suspects is, of course, that he’s having them at all. That battle, happily, is over, and they’ve moved on to how terribly expensive it all is. The figure being floated on Fox (and the Associated Press, and a legion of lesser partisan organs) is up to $160 million, compared to President Bush’s frugal $42 million festivities in 2005. 

Eric Boehlert at Media Matters lays out how hard the numbers were cooked to come up with those figures:

[The] Obama figure of $160 million that got repeated in the press included security costs associated with the massive event. But the Bush tab of $42 million left out those enormous costs. …

However, buried in a recent New York Times article published one week before the controversy erupted over the cost of Obama’s inauguration, the newspaper reported that in 2005, "the federal government and the District of Columbia spent a combined $115.5 million, most of it for security, the swearing-in ceremony, cleanup and for a holiday for federal workers" [emphasis added].

You read that correctly. The federal government spent $115 million dollars for the 2005 inauguration. Keep in mind, that $115 million price tag was separate from the money Bush backers bundled to put on the inauguration festivities. For that, they raised $42 million. So the bottom line for Bush’s 2005 inauguration, including the cost of security? That’s right, $157 million.*

Not a lot of talk about where the money’s coming from, understandably. Bush’s inaugural donors were mostly individuals, lobbyists and companies with a vested interest in high oil prices, deregulation,** and the mortgage bubble. The Obama team isn’t taking money from lobbyists or companies, has lowered the top donation from Bush’s $250k to $50k, and (we find tucked into the bottom of a Politico story about "big donors") all but 5,632 of the 200,000 donations they’ve received were less than $200, for an average donation of $34.

Which, I guess, is why two days before the inauguration right pundit pushback has been reduced to this: (more…)

Today, on As the Senate Appointment Turns

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Reports that Governor Paterson is determined to appoint Caroline Kennedy to Senator Clinton’s seat may be a bit exaggerated 

Gov. David Paterson hinted Friday that he had changed his mind about whom he would appoint to fill Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat, and that he would wait until after Barack Obama’s inauguration Tuesday to make a decision.

“I’m having new thinking about who I’m going to appoint, and I’m having follow-up conversations with some of the candidates,” Mr. Paterson said.

He did not identify the candidate he had initially expected to pick, though some will undoubtedly assume he meant Caroline Kennedy. She was considered by many to be the frontrunner several weeks ago but is now viewed as far from certain to get the appointment.

Mr. Paterson said he always expected Ms. Clinton to fly through the confirmation process and become secretary of state as early as Jan. 20, but that it was nonetheless prudent for him to wait to make an appointment because cabinet nominees do occasionally withdraw. He alluded to New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson’s decision to pull out as Commerce secretary nominee.

The governor had told candidates that he did not want an appointment to in any way overshadow the inauguration of Mr. Obama. But on Thursday rumors flew that he might decide the matter as soon as this weekend, and the governor made comments that stoked them. But today he attempted to downplay that possibility, saying that he appreciated having the time to make the best choice. “Once you make the decision,” Mr. Paterson said, “you are stuck with it.”

Based on the timing, it doesn’t seem as if the governor was basing his decision on Wednesday’s Quinnipiac Poll, which showed that New Yorkers preferred Andrew Cuomo and did not think that Ms. Kennedy was qualified to be Senator, but did think that Governor Paterson was likely to appoint her anyway. 

Thursday’s Marist Poll showed more or less the same thing – more New Yorkers wanted Cuomo, and fewer thought that Kennedy would be up to the job. Doesn’t seem like enough to change Paterson’s mind.

Except for that one new question: (more…)

Civil Wrongs in the Bush DOJ

Remember Brad Schlozman, Bush’s dubious head of the Justice Department Civil Rights division?

Schlozman has acknowledged in sworn congressional testimony that he had boasted of hiring Republicans and conservatives, but he denied taking improper actions against the division’s career officials. …

Schlozman’s efforts to hire political conservatives for career jobs throughout the division are now being examined as part of a wide-ranging investigation of the Bush administration’s alleged politicization of the Justice Department. The department’s inspector general and Office of Professional Responsibility confirmed last month that their inquiry, begun in March, will look at hiring, firing and legal-case decisions in the division.

Woops.

To Bradley Schlozman, they were "mold spores," "commies" and "crazy libs."… "My tentative plans are to gerrymander all of those crazy libs right out of the section," he said in an e-mail in 2003. "I too get to work with mold spores, but here in Civil Rights, we call them Voting Section attorneys," he confided to another friend.

He hoped to get rid of the "Democrats" and "liberals" because they were "disloyal" and replace them with "real Americans" and "right-thinking Americans."

He appears to have succeeded by his standards, according to an inspector general’s report released Tuesday…

And what standards would those be? Well, Schlozman apparently felt really strongly that the Civil Rights Division was way too worried about civil rights.

(more…)