Thursday, July 9, 2009

Not Your Grandfather's Wingnuts

TPM Headline:

Minnesota GOP Writes Big Check To Al Franken

The Minnesota Republican Party wrote and sent Democratic Sen. Al Franken's campaign a check for almost $96,000 after a court ordered it pay part of his legal fees.

Think Progress: Arizona state senator argues for uranium mining by claiming the Earth is ‘6,000 years’ old.

On June 25, the Arizona Senate’s Retirement and Rural Development Committee discussed the prospects for uranium mining in the state. During the hearing, State Senator Sylvia Allen (R), the vice chairman of the committee, argued in favor of mining by saying that the earth “has been here 6,000 years, long before anybody had environmental laws, and somehow it hasn’t been done away with.” “We need to get the uranium here in Arizona, so this state can get the money from it,” argued Allen. Watch it:

Phil Plait of BadAstronomy notes that the irony of Allen’s claim “is that she’s talking about uranium mining, and it’s through the radioactive decay of uranium that we know the Earth is billions of years old.”

TPM: Steve King: I Opposed "Yet Another Bill" To Commemorate Slavery, In Order To Protect Judeo-Christian Heritage
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has released a statement explaining why he opposed a House measure to erect a plaque in the Capitol Visitors Center, recognizing the history of slave labor in the construction of the Capitol. King was the only one to vote "No," and it passed by a 399-1 margin.

King says that he "opposed yet another bill to erect another monument to slavery," because Democrats had used it as a bargaining chip with Republicans who wanted to secure the depiction of the words "In God We Trust" in the Visitors Center -- that America's Judeo-Christian heritage was being held hostage:

Think Progress: Inhofe defends calling Franken a ‘clown’: ‘He kind of looked like a clown when I was talking to him.’
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) extended a nasty welcome to his newest Senate colleague, Al Franken, last week, telling the Tulsa World, “I’ll tell you what a lot of people are thinking, and that is it looks like things are going to be over and we are going to get the clown from Minnesota. … I don’t know the guy, but…for a living he is a clown.” Inhofe is now rushing to defend himself, pointing out that he and Franken “physically embraced” when they ran into each other on Tuesday. However, he still insists that Franken is a “clown”:

On Tuesday, Inhofe again insisted his comments last week were not meant to be derogatory.

He said the “clown comment” did come up during the chance meeting.

“But believe me, he knew. He kind of looked like a clown when I was talking to him,” Inhofe said.

Asked by Bill Press to respond to Inhofe last week, Franken simply replied, “I don’t know how Sen. Inhofe regards clowns, but it might be an incredible compliment.”

Republicans in their own way July 8: A Las Vegas newspaper published a copy of a letter reportedly written by Sen. John Ensign, R-NV, to his mistress. Elsewhere in the Republican Party, Sarah Palin's waning public support is causing some Republican candidates to look elsewhere for support. Rachel Maddow breaks down the GOP's latest issues with New York Times columnist Frank Rich.
Think Progress: Palin’s resignation has ‘boosted her a bit among Republicans.’

A new USA Today/Gallup poll has found that “Sarah Palin’s bombshell that she is resigning as Alaska governor actually has boosted her a bit among Republicans.” According to the poll, “two-thirds of Republicans want Palin…to be ‘a major national political figure‘ in the future” while three-quarters of Democrats “hope she won’t be.” Seventy-two percent of Republicans surveyed said they are “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to vote for her if she runs for president:


Sargent: Key Reason Palin Gave For Quitting May Be False

One of the chief reasons Sarah Palin has given for resigning as Governor of Alaska is that her state’s taxpayers are being forced to spend money defending her government against ethics complaints that would otherwise fund teachers, cops, and road repair.

But in response to our questions, a spokesperson for the Alaska governor’s office just gave us new information that casts serious doubt on this assertion. The revelation makes the resignation episode even stranger, and raises fresh questions about the real reasons for her abrupt departure.

During her resignation speech last week, Palin presented herself as a heroic defender of the taxpayer. She said that money being spent on government lawyers to defend against these “frivolous ethics violations” could be “going to things that are very important, like troopers and roads and teachers and fish research.” Palin repeated exactly the same point this week.

But David Murrow, a spokesperson for the Governor, said in an interview that much of this money was budgeted to the lawyers in advance and would have gone to them anyway, even if state lawyers hadn’t been defending against these ethics complaints.

In response to our questions, the Governor’s office provided us with a detailed breakdown of the millions Palin has claimed has gone to defending against ethics complaints. It does list roughly $1.9 million in expenditures.

But Murrow, the spokesperson, acknowledged to our reporter, Amanda Erickson, that this total was arrived at by adding up attorney hours spent on fending off complaints — based on the fixed salaries of lawyers in the governor’s office and the Department of Law. The money would have gone to the lawyers no matter what they were doing. The complaints are “just distracting them from other duties,” Murrow said.

In other words, while these lawyers might have been free to do other legal work for the state, the ethics complaints have apparently not had the real world impact Palin has claimed, and didn’t drain money away from cops, teachers, roads and other things.

Similarly, TPM reports that there are only three ethics complaints outstanding against the Palin administration in any case — which, combined with the above, casts serious doubts on one of her chief stated reasons for quitting.

Murrow has not responded to folllow-up questions asking him to explain how this squares with Palin’s claims. We’ll update you if he does.

  • John Cole on Greg Sargent's “scoop”:

    Scoop was in quotes o’ sarcasm, because it is not necessarily a scoop catching Sarah Palin lying. Every sentence our of her mouth is a verifiable lie, an exaggeration, or wrong. In order to catch Sarah Palin lying, all you need to do is record anything that comes out of her mouth. This is, after all, the candidate who lied about the Bridge to Nowhere for months after it was proven she was full of it.

    I suppose it is nice to have this documented for Sullivan’s list, but it is hardly a big find. Of course she was lying.

    That is what she does.

  • Sully adds: It Has Nothing To Do With Legal Expenses

    Like we didn't know that already. First Palin lied by talking about millions of legal expenses incurred by the state; now she's lying by pretending that the salaries of state lawyers wouldn't be paid anyway; and she lied about the major lawsuit costs, which she initiated. At some point, the real reason for her abrupt departure will emerge. But not after the usual avalanche of disprovable lies that she routinely provides.

    On the reporting front, I'm doing what I can to prod MSM journalists to actually do their jobs. But they refused all last fall and it's uphill work now. It may require a real news organization, like TMZ or the Daily Show. If Palin were a Democrat, the Drudge Report would have cracked this open last September. So we wait.

  • Josh Marshall: Not a Vote of Support

    Sarah Palin, says David Frum, "quit to cash in. Her admirers can excuse anything, but to the much larger audience of non-admirers, Palin will look a lot like those CEOs who wrecked their banks and the national economy while accepting huge bonuses for themselves personally. John McCain's slogan in 2008 was "Country First." Palin's in 2012? "I seen my opportunities, and I took 'em."

    I said when this first came down the pike that it seemed far the most likely conclusion, since the bow-out was so obviously rushed, that Palin was resigning ahead of some big scandal coming down the pike. But I confess that now I'm not so certain of my initial judgment.

    Palin of course has tons of scandals. But if a game changer was on the way, one she had to drop out of sight so quickly for, I think we'd have heard something about it by now. And she's hardly dropped out of sight. Not that I'm counting out the possibility by any means. I'm just not so sure.

    Maybe it really was just that she suddenly got tired of the accountability thing. Or couldn't wait the eighteen months left on her contract to start shoveling up the dollars.

    As I think a number of others have said, I've always thought Palin's character was essentially that of a grifter. And when these folks blow out of town after a con has run its course, it's usually a pretty hasty exit.

    So maybe it all makes sense.

  • Think Progress: Palin: My whining is different than Hillary Clinton’s.
    Since announcing that she would resign as governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin (R) has been blaming her decision on the “mainstream media” and political operatives who accused her of “all sorts of frivolous ethics violations.” Ironically, Palin last year criticized Hillary Clinton for complaining about being put under “a sharper microscope,” saying that when there is “any kind of perceived whine” coming from a “woman candidate,” she thinks, “Man that doesn’t do us any good.” Time’s Jay Newton-Small asked Palin about this contradiction in a new interview. Palin replied that she’s totally different than Clinton because the accusations she’s facing are way worse:

    What I said was, it doesn’t do her or anybody else any good to whine about the criticism. And that’s why I’m trying to make it clear that the criticism, I invite that. But freedom of speech and that invitation to constructively criticize a public servant is a lot different than the allowance to lie, to continually falsely accuse a public servant when they have proven over and over again that they have not done what the accuser is saying they did. It doesn’t cost them a dime to continue to accuse. That’s a whole different situation. But that’s why when I talk about the political potshots that I take or my family takes, we can handle that. I can handle that. I expect it. But there has to be opportunity provided for truth to get out there, and truth isn’t getting out there when the political game that’s being played right now is going to continue, and it is.

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