Give Dennis that Chair.

The other day I wrote about Dennis Kucinich taking on the lies and bullshit of Darrel Issa, the incoming Republican Chairman of the very powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Today I was happy to see that Dennis took another step to fight Issa’s plans for an endless partisan witch hunt.

Issa has committed to making the Clinton era witch hunts look reasonable in comparison to the partisan mega-obstruction and wastefulness that he has planned for the 112th Congress. Every wing-nut conspiracy theory will find a friend in Issa’s pre-planned abuse of power. The Oversight Committee is going to be a battle zone. Everyday will be about legislative knife fights, procedural muggings, thuggery and blatant partisan abuse of power by Issa and his Red-Shirt Inquisition. Issa will make the Oversight Committee the most Partisan Committee in Congress. Once again, with a Democrat in the White House, the Republicans will pervert the extraordinary powers of the committee to pursue an endless stream of headline grabbing witch hunts.

Currently, the Chairman is Edolphus Towns–who represents the New York 10th Congressional District (think Brooklyn). He is a good man, but he is the wrong man to head the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee as we enter a period of intense and daily hand to hand combat. Towns is just too nice of a guy. He replaced a fighting Democrat (Henry Waxman) as Chairman of the Committee and one can tell just by reviewing the list of hearings over the last four years how Towns did not have Waxman’s sense of justice and let the news cycle inform and drive his schedule of investigation.

The truth is that Towns is not a fighter and we need a fighter as the Ranking Democrat on the Committee. He is a guy with a safe seat who is willing to try and find common ground with everybody. He has run the Committee with the assumption that everybody on it views the responsibilities of Oversight the way he views them. He could not be more mistaken. His response to Issa’s plans to use control of the powerful committee for partisan witch hunts has been merely to say that “…any attempt to use this committee as a political weapon are intolerable and he will lead a strong and unified resistance against any such effort.”

Really? Seriously?

Please Congressman Towns–be truthful–can you think of a single Republican who will take a stand against Issa? Could you name any Republican in Congress who would stand united with you to fight Issa’s planned use of the Committee as a “political weapon”? Any Republican on the Committee? Crickets. Just who will constitute this “unified resistance” that Towns speaks about? Sadly, he just screams weakness.

Truth be told, Issa and the Republicans have already drunk his milkshake. As Ranking member of the Oversight Committee, Towns only offers impotent rage at the abuses that led to his pre-surrender before Issa’s campaign of orchestrated abuse even gets off the ground. Somehow, I think we could do better.

That’s why I was happy to hear today that Dennis Kucinich will challenge Townes to be the ranking member of the Oversight Committee. In his letter to his fellow Democrats, Kucinich explained why he was taking this step:

Dear Colleague,

Perhaps the most crucial vote you will cast in the reorganization of the 112th Congress involves the Ranking Member position of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. This is because the presumptive Chair of the full Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa of California, has already made wild and unsubstantiated charges which threaten to tum the principal oversight committee of the House into a witch hunt.

In just the past week, he has indicated a telling enthusiasm for a broad probe into the $700 billion American Reinvestment and Recovery Act program. He has equated it with “walking around money.” As you know, that is political slang for money off the books and under the table. He made this unsubstantiated claim in the context of promising hundreds of investigative hearings into the present Administration, calling President Obama “one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times.” I immediately sent Mr. Issa a letter (attached) calling for him to produce the evidence for such charges or to retract his statement.

Mr. Issa, through his eagerness to make unsubstantiated charges and to draw conclusions in advance of evidence, reveals a lack of restraint and basic fairness. This conduct in the Chairman of the Committee will degrade Congress’ oversight credibility and undermine the institution of the House through a lack of restraint in the use of subpoena power.

We cannot simply stand by idly and hope that such a reckless approach to the use of the power of the Chair will not happen, especially since it is not only being promised, but demonstrated by the person who will hold the gavel.

It is a matter of the highest importance that any intemperate use of the power of the Chair be challenged at every turn. Accordingly, I have decided to step forward as a candidate for Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. In that capacity, here is my pledge to you and our fellow members ofthe House:

  1. Zero tolerance for smears and innuendo. Every single statement by Chairman Issa which is lacking in respect for the process of oversight, every unsubstantiated allegation or any publically pronounced assumption which lacks basic fairness will be promptly challenged.
  2. I will encourage a team approach on the Committee which will tap the talents of all members to actively participate in responding to any abllse of process.
  3. All members will receive weekly updates of oversight activities to be able to provide input.
  4. Cooperation with Chairman Issa when, and only when, he proceeds in an even-handed manner which demonstrates basic fairness and respect for due process.

In the past two Congresses, the Domestic Policy Subcommittee, which I chaired, held over sixty hearings and heard testimony from hundreds of witnesses. We received testimony from Democratic and Republican administrations alike, proceeding in a deliberate and methodical manner, through thorough questioning of witnesses.

As Chairman, I worked closely with the Obama Administration. As a result of my advocacy and the multiple hearings that my Subcommittee held on foreclosure prevention, the Treasury Department created a $15 billion nationwide principle reduction program for “underwater” borrowers and now will allow flexibility in the use of federal foreclosure prevention funds by state housing agencies so that they’ can hire foreclosure prevention counselors.

Aggressive and thorough oversight is never to be feared. It is a goal. Now, with the change in the leadership of the Committee, we must be ready to preserve that goal tirelessly, courageously and unstintingly. That is the only way we can defend the integrity of congressional oversight from becoming an abusive power.

I ask for your consideration and your vote for Ranking Member of the full Committee.


Dennis J. Kucinich
Chair, Domestic Policy Subcommittee
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Look, I know that Dennis Kucinich is a political figure surrounded with many myths, smears and smirks. He is one of those old school Democrat progressives from the urban cities of the midwest that Republicans and others love to poke fun at as a quick way to marginalize them, their ideas and the working folks they represent. On top of that Dennis is short and can be a bit goofy from time to time on the teevee. He ran for President twice and the dynamics of that just intensify the media desire to fix narrative in stone regardless if there is any basis in fact for them. So John McCain is a ‘maverick’ and Kucinich is a ‘nut’. Turns out neither narrative was true.

Kucinich is a fighter. He will make Issa’s life difficult and call Darrel out on his bullshit hourly if need be. He will cooperate when Issa seeks cooperation and fight him when Issa slips on his red hood as the leader of the Inquisition.

America is filled with stories of people who had problems all their lives until that day when they found themselves in the right spot at the right time. Take Ulysses S. Grant as an example. Before the Civil War his life did not go well. And even during the first few years of the war he had many detractors who sought to push him to the sidelines. In Washington the blue dogs of the day tried to convince Lincoln that he needed to let Grant go. Lincoln responded “I can’t spare this man, he fights.”

As we look forward to the 112th Congress I sorta feel the same way about Dennis Kucinich. We can not spare this man–he fights. And the best place to put a fighter like Kucinich is as a check on a partisan scoundrel like Issa as the Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

There are many other Committees that Towns could Chair and he should have one of these Chairmanships. He has earned it, but he is a mismatch to the coming hourly partisan warfare Issa has planned for the next two years. To fight the coming investigations of everything Obama we need somebody who has been fighting the powerful all his life. We need Dennis.

Call your favorite Democrats in Congress and ask them to give Kucinich their vote. If we put enough pressure on, at the very least we should get Democrats on that Committee who know that they are a thin blue line holding back a shitload of crazy.


50 replies
  1. 1
    El Cid says:

    Harry Reid vows to bring DADT repeal as attached to defense authorization for a full vote in December.

  2. 2
    jharp says:

    Go get em Dennis.

    Kick some fucking ass and let the truth be known. I know you can and will.

  3. 3
    Cacti says:

    This is actually a position where Kooch’s gadfly tendencies would be useful rather than self-destructive.

    Someone needs to be there to call Issa on his bullshit the moment it escapes his lips. Especially given the tendency of the Gingrich era GOP for complete fabrication.

  4. 4
    Cacti says:

    @El Cid:

    Maybe almost getting unseated by a barking lunatic helped Harry rediscover his long-lost testicles.

  5. 5

    Way to go, Dennis! I hope he wins and pins Issa’s fucking sorry ass to the wall. Issa is a no-good shit for brains, and deserves every second of hell he gets from progressives. I would never vote for Dennis for Pres., but he’s a good house member.

    ETA: Is it too much for me to wish that Nancy Smash! would move this forward for partisan means?

  6. 6
    El Cid says:


    Reid’s office blasted out the statement shortly after the Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights advocacy group, issued its own statement asserting that Reid had promised them just such a move in a meeting.
    That meeting included a strong White House presence, as well, The Advocate reported. Joining Reid’s senior counsel and chief of staff were Deputy White House Chief of Staff Jim Messina, Legislative Affairs Director Phil Schiliro and Brian Bond, deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, Kerry Eleveld reported.

    Lieberman is reported in the same article to holding a press conference with other Dems on Thursday to also highlight repeal as a priority.

  7. 7
    J. Michael Neal says:

    @Cacti: Or maybe Reid is engaging in vote counting on a consistent basis, and is coming up with a bigger total than he has on a lot of issues.

  8. 8
    General Stuck says:

    While I think Dennis, or someone like him would be best for such a committee, the circus we are going to visit in Jan will have many acts coming from the House of Clown wingnuts. Mostly from sabotage with legislation, or withholding vital legislation needed to keep the trains running.

    The proof will be in the final pudding of what the wingers flog as evidence, and conclusions that will certainly convict Obama of many fantastical high crimes and misdemeanors germinated in their pretty little insane heads. The rest of us out here in the hinterlands can carry the footballs, hopefully united from the madness the wingers will wrought.

    IOW’s, the rope will not need dispensing, Issa and his zealous buds will grab it and run, and the public likely won’t need to have play by play to figure out what they are up to. The big question is will they lap it up into their frontal lobes as reality or fiction, and make informed and thoughtful decisions about voting in 2012, or continue the death spiral of tribal passions until it all crashes down. I really don’t know the answer to that, I thought I did this go round, but the failsafe point was not where it should have been, or, the beatings will stop America, when you reach a little higher plane of reasoning, and not before.

  9. 9
    Dennis G. says:

    Exactly right. This job seems tailored made for him. He will drive Issa batshit crazy and that would be fun to watch.

    The wingnut poutrage should be spectacular.


  10. 10
    Emerald says:

    @General Stuck:

    . . . the public likely won’t need to have play by play to figure out what they are up to.

    I imagine the public will be screaming to get focused on jobs instead. They want their problems solved, not political games.

    However, no doubt the corporate media will report Crazy Issa’s (my congresscritter–I apologize) activities with the same level of credulity they reported Bush’s Iraq activities.

    Ergo, as you say, who knows how it will play?

  11. 11
    artem1s says:

    hope Dennis can do some good here. might be his last hurrah as he may very well lose his seat because of the shrinking population and seeing that Kasich and his gang get to gerrymander the new voting districts. I think OH loses at least one if not 2 seats.

  12. 12
    Andy K says:

    Honestly, Dennis, I’d much rather see George Henry Thomas than Grant, someone who can formulate a good strategy and knock the crap outta Issa & company while minimizing the casualties on his own side.

  13. 13
    mike says:

    I hope they select Kucinich but frankly he seems too much like a DFH. On the other hand, Towns seems like a nice guy, willing to preemptively capitulate in order to demonstrate his bi-partisan bonafides. I think the dems will take the safe path and keep him as the ranking member. I hope I’m wrong, but I haven’t been yet in predicting the outcome of similar circumstances.

  14. 14
    MattR says:

    I just flipped on George Lopez and the opening jokes of his monologue were about the TSA pat downs and Four Loko. It’s like BJ is on my TV.

  15. 15
    Loneoak says:


  16. 16
    Felanius Kootea (formerly Salt and freshly ground black people) says:

    @El Cid: Heard that on Rachel Maddow. This is great! As John McCain leads the filibuster, I hope every network replays his 2006 comments supporting the repeal of DADT if the leadership of the military agreed to it. What a half-senile, vindictive old git maverick.

  17. 17
    J. Michael Neal says:

    @Andy K: Grant is unfairly portrayed as a butcher. That reputation stems from one bad decision at Cold Harbor, the necessity to fight a siege battle at Petersburg that had no low casualty solution (as European generals learned a half century later), and the desperate need of the Confederates to smear Grant as thoroughly as they could.

    There were only two campaigns of the entire civil war that resulted in an entire army surrendering without bloody battle. Those were Fort Donelson and Vicksburg. The commander in both instances was Ulysses S. Grant. No one else, on either side, ever managed to outmaneuver his foe so thoroughly that continuing to fight was not an option. Grant did it twice.

    As a strategist, Grant recognized that the war could be lost in the East, but it could really only by won in the West. It was with great reluctance that he accepted command of the Army of the Potomac, which he really would have preferred to stand on the defensive while he carved up the Confederacy. The campaigns that led to the slaughters he’s blamed for were ordered against his advice, as he knew what the likely results were going to be.

    His one near catastrophic decision came in getting too far out ahead of the rest of the Union army at Shiloh. Rather than panicking, he conducted a skillful defensive that allowed Don Carlos Buell to arrive and turn the two day battle into a major Union victory.

    Grant was one of the very first operational commanders of any nationality who recognized the extent to which logistics was the critical factor in modern warfare. His use of railroads, as well as combined arms operations with the US Navy, were radical and effective (though David Porter deserves his share of credit on the second).

    I bow to no one in my admiration of George Thomas, from both a moral and a leadership perspective, but he was merely very good. Grant was a frickin’ genius, and probably the world’s best army level commander during the century between 1815 and 1914.

  18. 18
    J. Michael Neal says:

    @mike: I, too, suspect that the Dems will stick with Towns, but that it will have more to do with the Congressional Black Caucus uniting behind one of their own. I respect their concerns, and understand where they’re coming from, but I think they completely lack any big picture understanding.

  19. 19
    RadioOne says:

    at this point, I think that any Democrat serving in the House willing to openly challenge any of the new GOP House chairman’s lies right now should be rewarded with a new ranking chairmanship. So go Kucinich, I guess.

  20. 20
    Dennis G. says:

    @J. Michael Neal:
    I’m with you on Grant.

    Thomas deserves his praise as well.

    Really when I think of the over-rated in American history, it is hard for me to think of anybody who tops Bobby Lee and that is with a very long list of folks in the running.


  21. 21
    patrick II says:

    So John McCain is a ‘maverick’ and Kucinich is a ‘nut’..Turns out neither narrative was true.

    The narrative is exactly backwards. Dennis Kucinich is a ‘maverick’ and John McCain is a ‘nut’.

  22. 22
    RalfW says:

    How bout some Act Blue love for the fighter from Cleveland!

  23. 23
    J. Michael Neal says:

    @patrick II: Nah. Kucinich is a nut. He just happens to be exactly the nut we need right now.

  24. 24
    Martin says:

    Kucinich isn’t a nut, he’s just a huge political outlier on many issues. You can’t really get much done from that position, but Oversight is an exception.

  25. 25
    patrick II says:


    And the difference between an “outlier” and a “maverick” would be….?

  26. 26
    Lancelot Link says:

    I’d go for Fighting Pete Stark, myself, but he may be a little too harsh and politically incorrect for the tender sensibilities of the villagers.

  27. 27
    Martin says:

    @patrick II: Well, there’s a difference between someone who is an outlier and can bring others around to their position, and one that can’t. Kucinich, unfortunately, is in the latter category. McCain has had a bit more success in the former, but that’s mostly a byproduct of him having a smaller field to play on in the Senate.

  28. 28
    GregB says:

    John McCain=Bull Connor+George Wallace.

  29. 29
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    John McCain’s greatest flaw is his abject slavery to his own ambition; he’s been more than willing to sell his integrity and honor in service to it.

    John McCain could have been the very proud, very moral, very obvious outspoken opponent to the use of torture by the United States, seeing as he experienced it first hand. He could have grasped the greatness he always longed for, yet he caved to a deserting coward and fully embraced the unquestionable immorality of the Bush/Cheney approach to terrorism, which seems to have been designed to encourage more of it, rather than to defeat it.

    The result is he’s an utter disgrace to the uniform he once wore.

  30. 30
    mai naem says:

    John McCain is my senator. He was also my representative. I am proud to say that I have never voted for this pompous prick. I can’t stand pols who use their military service as the sole reason that they deserve to win a seat.

  31. 31
    NobodySpecial says:

    @J. Michael Neal: Erm, what?

    There were only two campaigns of the entire civil war that resulted in an entire army surrendering without bloody battle. Those were Fort Donelson and Vicksburg. The commander in both instances was Ulysses S. Grant. No one else, on either side, ever managed to outmaneuver his foe so thoroughly that continuing to fight was not an option. Grant did it twice.

    Not sure how you define ‘without bloody battle’, but at Fort Donelson, the Confederate Army swung out of the trenches, attacked, actually opened a road out for the army to escape, and for reasons beyond anyone’s knowing, the commanding officer then ordered everyone back in the city, abdicated, then his second in command abdicated and they both escaped downriver on a boat, leaving Buckner to surrender.

    Just saying.

  32. 32
    Andy K says:

    @J. Michael Neal:

    I’ll double down.

    Chickasaw Bayou. Chattanooga (where Grant was failing until the Army of the Cumberland saved Grant and Sherman from major a embarrassment). The Wilderness. Spotsylvania. The failed assaults during the siege of Petersburg. And it isn’t as if Grant didn’t lose troops before and during the siege of Vicksburg.

    And for all Grant’s talk about the importance of the Western Theater, it sure looks as if he didn’t give a rat’s ass about it late in ’64, when he allowed Sherman to strip Thomas of all of the AotC’s cavalry mounts and best infantry units as the former romped unopposed through Georgia and the latter faced Hood’s numerically superior force driving through Tennessee.

    While it’s pretty common knowledge that Confederate revisionism was met with little pushback until the middle of the 20th century, it’s only been very recently that historians have begun to take a critical look at the official Union history, which was written under Grant, Sherman, Sheridan and Schofield, to their benefit, and at the expense of Thomas and Meade, amongst others.

  33. 33
    LGRooney says:

    How much publicity comes with the post? Does it mean we get to see more of Elizabeth? I’m in!

  34. 34
    geg6 says:

    There is no one, literally no one, in the House who I’d rather see take on Issa. I’m totally with you on this, Dennis. Kucinich may be a quirky guy and someone for whom I could never vote as president, but I’m all about rewarding and promoting our congressional pitbulls. And, say whatever else you want to about him, the boy mayor from the Dog Pound is a pitbull.

  35. 35
    El Tiburon says:

    Fact is most juice bagger commenters are short and goofy. Not me.

  36. 36
    Lee says:

    Would it be inappropriate to support Kucinich simply because his wife is smoking hot?

  37. 37
    El Cid says:

    @patrick II:

    the difference between an “outlier” and a “maverick” would be….?

    The difference is that “maverick” as applied to McCain is a bunch of horse-shit, whereas Kucinich as an “outlier” continually does oppose the policies of his own party’s leadership and often elected majority.

  38. 38
    debbie says:

    What a tag team for the next two years: Pelosi and Kucinich! Bring it on!

  39. 39
    dopey-o says:

    i’d like to see Issa investigate Obama for failing to prosecute war crimes by the previous administration. Then the GOP House votes to impeach. It would never fly in the Senate (crosses fingers).

    Naw, too sensible.

  40. 40
    TomG says:

    Count me in as a libertarian who likes Dennis Kucinich and appreciates many of the things he’s done.

  41. 41
    Svensker says:


  42. 42
    rickstersherpa says:

    @J. Michael Neal: Actually, Grant commanded at 3 battles that resulted in the surrender of Confederate field armies without a climatic final battle: Appomatix. I agree with you completely that portrait of Grant as a butcher is mostly wrong (all good Generals have to be willing to get their men killed, and accept responsiblity for it). Shiloh and the Overland Campaign, particularly Cold Harbor, are used as the evidence of that, and Shiloh in many ways was Grant’s worse performance (prior to the battle, during it he was magnificient). He fell into a “group think” that became common in the Northern Armies in the Spring of 1862 that secession fire had spent and the South had no heart for a hard fight. So he saw no need to put his Army in a proper defensive posture or entrench. Albert Sidney Johnson and the Conferederate Army of Tennessee cleared his head of that notion at Shiloh. So he made a terrible mistake, but Lincoln had the wisdom not to fire him over it, realizing that he was making his share of mistakes as they were making up on the fly.

    In the Overland Campaign the primary reason it was so bloody was Grant was definitely facing the first team with Lee, who was a tactical master fighting on his home turf. Lee also soon realized that Grant would not be beaten like so many others by a good blood letting, but would keep fighting as long as the Army of Potomac existed as a fighting force.

  43. 43
    vtr says:

    Go, Dangerous Denny, go!

  44. 44
    daveNYC says:

    Would it be inappropriate to support Kucinich simply because his wife is smoking hot?

    Having the opportunity for more profiles of Mrs Kucinich wouldn’t be a bad thing. Doesn’t hurt that she seems to be just as goofy as he is.

    Two things about Grant that always stand out for me.
    1) Somehow he managed to get a reputation of winning his battles using the Zapp Brannigan killbot strategy (Fry: I heard one time you single handedly defeated a horde of rampaging somethings in the something something system.
    Zapp: The Killbots? A trifle. It was simply a matter of outsmarting them.
    Fry: Wow, I never would’ve thought of that.
    Zapp: You see the killbots have a preset kill limit; knowing their weakness I sent wave after wave of my own men at them until they reached their limit and shutdown.)
    2) Just how much support he got, and he needed, from Lincoln. If it hadn’t been for Lincoln’s support early on, and his continued support as Grant was moved up the chain of command, things would have been very different.

  45. 45
    celticdragonchick says:

    I heard last night on Maddow that the President called Senator Carl Levin and told him keep DADT on the defense bill after Levin publicly signaled he was surrendering.

    About damned time.

  46. 46
    celticdragonchick says:

    @J. Michael Neal:

    I am going with your interpretation. I agree that there were no low casualty solutions when it came to Cold harbor, etc.

    What I find amazing is that the Europeans didn’t learn a damned thing from our experience with industrial age trench warfare.

  47. 47
    daveNYC says:

    I heard last night on Maddow that the President called Senator Carl Levin and told him keep DADT on the defense bill after Levin publicly signaled he was surrendering.

    As long as it stays in the defense bill, it will eventually pass. I don’t think the Republicans are so far gone that they’ll nix defense spending in order to stick it to teh gheys.

    Then again, given their current behavior, I could be wrong.

  48. 48
    brantl says:

    All the people that want to say that Dennis Kucinich is goofy, don’t seem to know a hell of a lot about Dennis Kucinich.

  49. 49
    Mnemosyne says:

    @J. Michael Neal:

    Kucinich is a nut. He just happens to be exactly the nut we need right now.

    That’s how I feel about our recycled new governor Jerry Brown. He’s a hothead who says stupid things, but he’s been in California politics long enough to know where all of the levers are to get the state to work.

    He may be too late to save us, but at least he’ll give it a try. eMeg would have greased the skids.

  50. 50

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