Early Morning Open Thread

John Richardson has made excellent use of the internet to add some extra notes he gathered while researching “Newt Gingrich: The Indispensable Republican” to his Esquire blog. I’m not going to quote much here, because you don’t want to read this stuff over breakfast (or just before you go to bed). But here’s a teaser from Mickey Edwards, a former Congressman so conservative he was one of the original trustees of the Heritage Foundation:

[Newt] was the one who really more than anybody got Republicans to start thinking of themselves not in terms of their constitutional obligations, but thinking of themselves first as Republicans. The classic example of when this came back to haunt us is when George Bush became president and started doing these things that were unconstitutional, like his signing statements. Republicans rallied to support him. My whole life has been in the conservative movement, and if Lyndon Johnson did those things we would have had a mass protest. But they went along with it because he was their leader. That’s the fruit of what Newt brought.






31 replies
  1. 1
    mclaren says:

    But in fact massive use of signing statements to flaunt the constitution date back to Ronald Reagan. The senile sociopath Reagan was the one who popularized that method of flagrantly violating the constitution. (Teddy Roosevelt originated signing statements in 1909, by the way.)

    Gingrich is a Johnny-come-lately. The original evil, the source of all the unconstitutionality, the fount of hatred and demonization of the left in the Republican party, the originator of crazy religious fundamentalism as the engine of Republican politics, in every case wildly applauded by the Repulican party en masse: all Reagan.

  2. 2
    Batocchio says:

    Per request, the John Cole Attitude Advisory System.

    (I might try to make a better version later on, or anyone else is free to do so…)

  3. 3
  4. 4
    besteaster says:

    “My whole life has been in the conservative movement, and if Lyndon Johnson did those things we would have had a mass protest. But they went along with it because he was their leader”

    Yes, right, absolutely. And it’s disgusting.

    Now turn it right around. Replace “conservative” with “liberal” and replace “Lyndon Johnson” with “Dubya” and you’ve got a perfect description of contemporary chickenshit liberals.

  5. 5
    JGabriel says:

    mclaren:

    the fount of hatred and demonization of the left in the Republican party … all Reagan.

    What MikeJ said: Nixon did that before Reagan. People tend to forget, for instance, that the McCarthy era’s House UnAmerican Activities Committee was founded by Nixon in the 40’s.

    Though to be fair, even Nixon had his predecessors in demonizing the left, among the Republicans who smeared FDR in the 30’s.

    .

  6. 6
    mclaren says:

    @MikeJ:

    Excellent point.

    In any case, we can all agree that Nixon, Reagan and Dubya all violated the constitution far more grotesquely than Newt Gingrich and were at least as viciously partisan in their naked pursuit of political power, yet all three of those prominent Republicans received standing ovations from their colleagues in the Republican party.

    So Mickey Edwards is lying when he claims Gringrich did anything new or unusual in the Republican party. Mickey Edwards is flat-out lying. He’s lying out his ass and everybody knows it. Unconstitutionality and brutally cynical partisanship applauded by the entire Republican party is nothing new — it’s Standard Operating Procedure for Republicans, going back to 1968, the 1950s if we include Senator Joseph McCarthy.

  7. 7
    Xenos says:

    @mclaren: You have some sort of source or citation for that? I have run across a number of Reagan signing statements, and they all seemed above the board and legitimate uses of the form. That is, they adding a bit to the legislative record, but did not seem designed to put a spin on the law that was dishonest, contrary to the the rest of the legislative record, are declared that the plain text of the law was something that the law did not say.

    So if I have missed yet another reason to dislike and resent Reagan (I have plenty already), please let me know.

  8. 8
    mclaren says:

    @Xenos:

    President Reagan issued 250 signing statements, 86 of which (34%) contained provisions objecting to one or more of the statutory provisions signed into law. President George H. W. Bush continued this practice, issuing 228 signing statements, 107 of which (47%) raised objections. President Clinton’s conception of presidential power proved to be largely consonant with that of the preceding two administrations. In turn, President Clinton made aggressive use of the signing statement, issuing 381 statements, 70 of which (18%) raised constitutional or legal objections. President George W. Bush has continued this practice, issuing 152 signing statements, 118 of which (78%) contain some type of challenge or objection.

    Source: Wikipedia.

    “Objecting to statutory provisions” means that the president is essentially saying that he intended to disobey or ignore a law. The legislative branch’s job is to legislate, the executive branch’s job is to carry out the law. When the president disobeys or ignores laws passed by congress, he violates the constitution.

    According to Wikipedia, while the Drunk Driving C student in the oval office broke all records for signing statements, he objected to (stated his intent to ignore or disobey the law in) 118 signing statements — Reagan stated his intent to ignore or disobey the law in 86 signing statements.

    The specific examples I vividly recall during the Reagan reign of error involved Reagan’s signing statements attached to the renewal of the Clean Water Act in 1987 and Superfund legislation in 1987 and legislation expanding the roles of OSHA and the EPA. The EPA under Reagan so famously refused to enforce clean air and clear water laws that it had to be sued to force it to enforce existing laws. All due to Reagan’s signing statements.

    I’m surprised everyone doesn’t remember that. It was a huge scandal at the end of the 1980s, almost as big a scandal as Reagan’s Attorney General Ed Meese getting indicted and tried and convicted and sentenced to prison. Along with a record 134 other members of the most corrupt White House in history under Reagan, who either resigned to avoid indictment or were indicted or fined/disbarred/censured/disciplined for corruption.

    Perhaps these details have gotten blurred over time because there was so much corruption in the Reagan White House that specifics like the Reagan EPA refusing to enforce anti-pollution laws get lost in the tidal wave of Reagan-era bribery and criminality.

  9. 9
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Batocchio: That’s . . . brilliant.

  10. 10
    Resident Firebagger says:

    And now all these principled Republicans like Mickey Edwards can just slide on over to the Party of O.

  11. 11

    Gingrich gets it and Edwards doesn’t. The American body politic is at the point of death from the fatal, incurable disease called “faction”. Edwards is like a family member of someone dying of an embarrassing disease, pretending that the patient isn’t sick. Gingrich wants to ride the sled all the way to the bottom and, if possible, to accelerate it faster than gravity. You may question his taste, but not his clear-sightedness.

  12. 12
    zattarra says:

    Ignore the Executive bashing here though and who used what signing statement. This is about Newt. And how Newt broke Congress. Which he did.

  13. 13

    Anne,
    You’re correct. The Gingrich piece will dislodge ones breakfast. Maybe lunch, as well.

  14. 14

    As much as we bag on caribou Barbie, she’s dumb. Newt is about as close to pure distilled evil as we’ve got these days in u.s. Politics. That blog post about the Obama “machine” is just infuriating.

  15. 15
    WereBear says:

    There was some spokesperson (R-Looney Party) talking about Newt on Hardball or something the other day, calling Newt their “Intellectual.”

    Yes. It’s true. And heaven help us all.

  16. 16
    cleek says:

    @Batocchio:
    so we’ll know how bad JC’s fee-fees are hurting ?

  17. 17
    DBrown says:

    What the pig (sorry for offending pigs) Newet is telling repub-a-thugs is that the party is first and always right which is EXACTLY what hitler told the NAZI’s – party first, and any so-called constitution is irrelavent. Do these asswipes realize what evil they have created and what this country is becoming and will become?

  18. 18
    soonergrunt says:

    @DBrown: GODWIN!
    Just for a complete understanding, neither the nazis or the Italian fascists were about ‘party’ per se. The party was always a cult of personality.
    A much better metaphor for what you are talking about it the Bolsheviks and Communists from Russia. Party first, last, and always.

  19. 19
    El Cid says:

    Yay! The 1990s militia movement “sovereign citizen” movement is back!

    Sovereign citizens spin history, reject government
    __
    COLUMBUS, Ohio – They call themselves sovereign citizens, U.S. residents who declare themselves above state and federal laws. Many don’t register children’s births, carry driver’s licenses or recognize the court system.
    __
    Some peddle schemes that use fictional legal loopholes to eliminate debt and avoid foreclosures.
    __
    A few such believers are violent: Two police officers in Arkansas died in a shootout in May after stopping an Ohio sovereign citizen and his son.
    __
    As many as 300,000 people identify as sovereign citizens, the Southern Poverty Law Center found in a study to be published Thursday that was obtained by The Associated Press. Hate group monitors say their numbers have increased thanks to the recession, the foreclosure crisis, the growth of the Internet and the election of Barack Obama in 2008.
    __
    Adherents expect the current American system of government to end one way or another.
    __
    “I’m the Patrick Henry of the 21st century. I’m here to regain our freedom,” James McBride said in a jailhouse interview. “I’m going to, or die trying.”
    __
    At the heart of their belief system: The government creates a secret identity for each citizen at birth, a “straw man,” that controls an account at the U.S. Treasury used as collateral for foreign debt. File enough documents at the right offices and the money in those accounts can be used to pay off debt or make purchases worth thousands of dollars.
    __
    The movement is based on a form of “legal fundamentalism,” said Michael Barkun, a retired Syracuse University political science professor who researches anti-government and hate groups.
    __
    “These people really seem to feel that filing certain kinds of legal papers that are connected to their theories will somehow also magically have the power to alter relationships and grant things that otherwise would be unobtainable,” he said.
    __
    Experts say sovereign citizens are the latest manifestation of anti-government activists going back to the Posse Comitatus movement of the 1970s, which recognized only local governments and no law enforcement official with more jurisdiction than a sheriff. In the 1980s, government protesters exploited the farm crisis by selling fraudulent debt relief programs.

    It’s important to remember that it isn’t just a right wing “anti-government” (a right wing authoritarian gov’t is just fine for them) ‘movement’ but a shit-load of flim-flam artists selling their bullshit wares to their eager rubes.

    And who’s this ‘jailed James McBride’ character naming himself the new Patrick Henry?

    McBride, the jailed sovereign citizen, came across anti-government beliefs while in federal prison in Michigan on a 1992 cocaine importing conviction.
    __
    Over the years he developed his own tenets, including a revised history of the United States that says the country was secretly organized as a general post office in 1789.
    __
    He dismisses any accusation that the programs he pitched were fraud, arguing he’s not subject to the laws of the U.S., which he calls a corporation along the lines of a car company.
    __
    “General Motor’s laws don’t affect me because I’m not an employee of them,” McBride said. “Same with the state of Ohio and the United States.”
    __
    Today, McBride is headed back to federal prison after prosecutors said he cashed bogus checks and refused to cooperate with his parole officers following a 2004 bankruptcy fraud conviction.
    __
    “I’m never going to have my grandchildren say, ‘Grandpa, why didn’t you do something to protect my rights?'” McBride said.
    __
    “They may say, ‘My grandpa died trying to protect my rights.'”

    Swoon!

    Makes you want to listen to some narco-corridos from the halcyon days of 10 years ago when the Mexican paramilitary narco-traffickers were seen as daring, freedom-loving, anti-gubmit rebels.

  20. 20
    El Cid says:

    @soonergrunt: I think you could fairly well apply the ‘party is all’ view to early 20th century fascist movements if you’re talking about the lower levels of the parties. Though not as ideologically utopian about it as Bolshevik and early Maoist movements. So it seems to me.

  21. 21
    Shalimar says:

    @besteaster: So your point is that “contemporary chickenshit liberals”, who are the absolute masters of the circular firing squad, don’t criticize Obama for things they would criticize Bush for? Or are you saying that liberals weren’t hard enough on Lyndon Johnson, who was so unpopular that he didn’t even try to run for a 2nd full term?

  22. 22
    Rick Massimo says:

    It never ceases to amaze me that Newt Gingrich is treated by the Village as an actual political leader WITHOUT anyone ever having to actually say so. Like, if Dave Gregory or whoever came out and said “We have Newt Gingrich on TV all the time because even though he holds no elected office or titled post, he is the actual leader of the Republican Party” I’d be OK with it. It would at least be an honest response. Instead they all run around pretending that they have him on because he’s fascinating.

  23. 23
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Shalimar: The answer is yes.

  24. 24
    JCT says:

    @Larry Signor: +1

    Usually I read an article about these craven republicans and get angry. This one made me ill, no joke.

  25. 25
    mts177 says:

    The Esquire article made it quite plain that Gingrich is a manic-depressive, just like his mother.

    Look at the wiki definition for mania:

    Characteristics of mania include rapid speech, racing thoughts, decreased need for sleep, hypersexuality, euphoria, impulsiveness, grandiosity, and an uncontrollably intense interest in goal-directed activities. Some people also have physical symptoms, such as sweating, pacing, and weight loss. In full-blown mania, often the manic person will feel as though his or her goal(s) trump all else, that there are no consequences or that negative consequences would be minimal, and that they need not exercise restraint in the pursuit of what they are after.

  26. 26
    mclaren says:

    We can certainly hope that this profile puts an end to Gingrich’s influence. And it looks likely to do so.

    What with this devastating piece on Gingrich and the previous damning profile of McChrystal, does anyone else sense the whirl of mighty workings? Some person or persons behind the scenes who has arranged to allow sufficient access and set up enough contacts among the right sources to ensure the downfall of first McChrystal, now Gingrich?

    There are so many toxic borderline-psychotic big-name players exactly like Gingrich and McChrystal in the beltway right now…Geithner, Summers, Boehner, Rahm, General Mattis…why haven’t any interviewers done a profile on these psychos and revealed their pathologies and dysfunctions to the world? It’s not as if Summers or Mattis can cover up the massive evidence of their sociopathy. Larry Summers once boasted that the third world was “vastly underpolluted,” Rahm Emanuel stabbed a knife repeatedly into a dinner table while explaining that he wanted Clinton’s political enemies “dead,” while Mattis recently made a speech announcing “It’s fun to kill people.”

    These are not people who could stand up to much scrutiny from an enterprising reporter. One investigative journalist starts digging, and every one of these guys is toast.

    Why have only McChrystal and Gingrich gotten taken down by reporters and not the rest of these psychos?

    Smells like a power struggle inside the Kremlin, doesn’t it?

  27. 27
    Stillwater says:

    @mclaren: The Silber link highlights an aspect of policy debate which is often undervalued: that the Bush years constituted a series of failed policies. Those policies weren’t failures, and the Bush presidency was not a failure. It was one of the most wildly successful presidencies in history.

  28. 28
    Tone in DC says:

    There are so many toxic borderline-psychotic big-name players exactly like Gingrich and McChrystal in the beltway right now…Geithner, Summers, Boehner, Rahm, General Mattis…why haven’t any interviewers done a profile on these psychos and revealed their pathologies and dysfunctions to the world? It’s not as if Summers or Mattis can cover up the massive evidence of their sociopathy. Larry Summers once boasted that the third world was “vastly underpolluted,” Rahm Emanuel stabbed a knife repeatedly into a dinner table while explaining that he wanted Clinton’s political enemies “dead,” while Mattis recently made a speech announcing “It’s fun to kill people.”
    _____________________________________________________
    Every so often, I need to be reminded that my town isn’t just Versailles on the Potomac… it’s Bellevue’s off campus ward for the Criminally Insane as well.

  29. 29
    JCT says:

    @Rick Massimo:
    What amazes me is that for such an amazingly anti-intellectual movement (endless sneering at pointy-headed, no-accomplishment Obama, etc), their fall-back with odious Newt is always that he is an intellectual, a “professor” no less.

    Up is always down with the modern Republican party.

  30. 30
    Bulworth says:

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlan.....ality.html

    While I know the galant freedom fighting libertarians at Reason were oh so worried about an anti-teh gay backlash because of that liberal activist hippie judge’s ruling against Prop 8, it turns out we might not have a backlash to worry about.

  31. 31
    Stillwater says:

    @JCT: Up is always down with the modern Republican party.

    That’s what happens when all you do is follow the bouncing ball.

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