Democratic Underground

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots
(No. 216)

October 3, 2005
The Hammer Falls Edition

Headline writers across America rejoiced last week, as they were finally able to use those hammer puns they've been saving up. "Hammer gets Nailed"; "Hammer Falls"; "Hammer takes a Hit"; and the ever-creative "Hammer hammered." That's right, Tom DeLay (1) got indicted. I'm sure you're shocked. Somehow, the members of the Tom DeLay Cheerleading Squad (2) were able to spin this one with straight faces. Meanwhile, Michael Brown (4) was on Capitol Hill playing the blame game. Neil Cavuto (5) gave some insight into the Fox News idea of "journalism." And Bill Bennett (7), well, he's just a racist scumbag. As usual, here's the key.

1Tom DeLay indicted
Last week it was announced that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Sugar Land) would henceforth be known as Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Shit Creek). YEAH BABY! In the immortal words of George W. Bush, "I feel good."

According to the Washington Post, a Texas grand jury indicted DeLay "on a charge of criminally conspiring with two political associates to inject illegal corporate contributions into 2002 state elections that helped the Republican Party reorder the congressional map in Texas and cement its control of the House in Washington." And that, folks, is NOT what democracy looks like.

Under House rules (which the Republicans previously attempted to change before deciding it might not look so good), DeLay was immediately forced to step down from his position as House Majority Leader. Funnily enough, those rules were initially adopted by the Republicans in 1993 when they were trying to catch Democrats out. Look out, GOP! I think I see something biting you in the ass.

In a comical Freudian slip, DeLay announced that the indictment was an act of political "retribution." Which, according to my dictionary, means, "Something justly deserved; recompense." Whoops.

So what's next for Tom? If convicted, he could face six months to two years in state jail, and a fine of up to $100,000. Tsk tsk. And to think that Republicans were supposed to be ending corruption in Washington. Mind you, justice will have to run its course; and let's be fair to Tom - he's innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. (Unlike the brown people in Guantanamo Bay, right?)

But perhaps we should heed the words of an up-and-coming Republican politican discussing Bill Clinton's impeachment back in 1998...

...I believe that this nation sits at a crossroads. One direction points to the higher road of the rule of law. Sometimes hard, sometimes unpleasant, this path relies on truth, justice and the rigorous application of the principle that no man is above the law.

Now, the other road is the path of least resistance. This is where we start making exceptions to our laws based on poll numbers and spin control. This is when we pitch the law completely overboard when the mood fits us, when we ignore the facts in order to cover up the truth.

Shall we follow the rule of law and do our constitutional duty no matter unpleasant, or shall we follow the path of least resistance, close our eyes to the potential lawbreaking, forgive and forget, move on and tear an unfixable hole in our legal system? No man is above the law, and no man is below the law. That's the principle that we all hold very dear in this country.

Wise words. Spoken, of course, by then-Majority Whip Tom DeLay.

2The Tom DeLay Cheerleading Squad hypocrisy lying excessive spin
Of course, you won't be surprised to learn that there are plenty of Republicans out there who, now that DeLay has been indicted, are perfectly willing to "close our eyes to the potential lawbreaking, forgive and forget, move on and tear an unfixable hole in our legal system."

First up is - oddly enough - Tom DeLay himself, who immediately launched into a personal attack on the prosecutor who brought the indictments, District Attorney Ronnie Earle. DeLay called Earle a "partisan fanatic" and an "unabashed partisan zealot," which was a meme that the conservative media were all too happy to bandy about. DeLay's lawyer subsequently popped up on every television news program he could find to trash Ronnie Earle as a left-wing agitator who had no case whatsoever.

The charge of Earle's liberal zealotry was repeated on all three cable news networks and unsurprisingly by every single right-wing media shill out there, from Rush Limbaugh to Sean Hannity to Ann Coulter and all their little buddies in between. Waaah! Ronnie Earle makes Noam Chomsky look like Benito Mussolini! This is clearly a partisan power-grab designed to blah blah blah, he has a long history of prosecuting Republicans yada yada yada...

The truth is that Ronnie Earle is - yes - a Democrat (which these days is a crime immediately punishable by brutal swift-boating). But guess what? Of the fifteen elected officials he has prosecuted during his career, only three were Republicans.

Of course, if you're a conservative media shill it's never a good idea to let the facts get in the way of your rhetoric.

3Roy Blunt partisanship hypocrisy quid pro quo
With Tom DeLay out of the picture, Republicans have turned to Roy Blunt of Missouri to succeed him as House Majority Leader. And funnily enough, Rep. Blunt has a few ethics problems of his own - not least of which is the fact that he employs an adviser who has been indicted as one of Tom DeLay's co-conspirators.

Blunt's political action committee has been paying Jim Ellis since 2003. According to the Los Angeles Times, "Ellis has been indicted in the same case as DeLay, for allegedly conspiring to illegally influence the outcome of Texas legislative elections by channeling corporate money to Republican candidates."


And that's not all. Again, according to the LA Times, "'in June 2003 that just hours after DeLay elevated Blunt to be House majority whip, Blunt tried to insert into a bill creating the Department of Homeland Security a provision that would have benefited Philip Morris USA. Blunt had close ties to the tobacco company, which contributed heavily to him, and was at the time dating one of its lobbyists, whom he later married."

So I guess the only question now is: can Republicans find someone who isn't up to their neck in ethics scandals to lead the party? Somehow I doubt it.

4Michael Brown hypocrisy covering your ass lying
Immediately after Hurricane Katrina the Bush administration insisted that it wasn't time to play the "blame game." But last week Michael Brown, the former head of FEMA, appeared at a Congressional hearing last week to give his version what happened during the disaster - and the blame game officially commenced. Yes, according to Brownie, he did a heck of a job - it was everyone else who screwed things up. "My biggest regret is not getting the governor [of Louisiana] and the mayor of New Orleans to sit down and iron out their differences," said he.

Fortunately several members of the committee weren't buying it. "What part of the FEMA plan," asked Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), "envisioned that the first responders in Hancock County and much of the Mississippi Gulf Coast would have to loot the local grocery store and loot the local Wal-Mart in order to feed themselves, would have to loot the local Wal-Mart in order to have a change of clothes?"

When blaming local officials didn't pan out quite as he anticipated, Brownie turned his guns on the Department of Homeland Security, the White House, and the media. He said that FEMA suffered "emaciation" because of DHS budget cuts, and claimed that he was in direct communication with the White House for days before the goverment hit.

"I guess you want me to be the superhero that is going to step in there and suddenly take everybody out of New Orleans," he whined.

Prompted by Rep. Steve Buyer (R-In.), Brown also managed to lie under oath. Check out this exchange:

BUYER: ...I was listening to my colleague, Mr. Jefferson's, questions about when they talked about, you know, they asked for this assistance for three days and then president responded the very next day, not the day that it was made - the request - but the governor of Louisiana actually excluded New Orleans from the president's federal emergency assistance declaration?

BROWN: Again, Congressman, we looked at the request. The governors make the request by...

BUYER: Let me ask this. Since you went through the exercise in Pam, was that not shocking to you that the governor would excluded New Orleans from the declaration?


BUYER: When that request came in excluding these three parishes, did you question it?

BROWN: We questioned it. But I made the decision that we were going to go ahead and move assets in regardless because we have the ability to add those parishes...

Just one problem: Gov. Blanco didn't exclude Orleans Parish from the emergency assistance declaration. The White House, however, excluded it from their response.

In Blanco's original August 27 request, she wrote:

Dear Mr. President:

Under the provisions of Section 501 (a) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5206 (Stafford Act), and implemented by 44 CFR § 206.35, I request that you declare an emergency for the State of Louisiana due to Hurricane Katrina for the time period beginning August 26, 2005, and continuing. The affected areas are all the southeastern parishes including the New Orleans Metropolitan area and the mid state Interstate I-49 corridor and northern parishes along the I-20 corridor that are accepting the thousands of citizens evacuating from the areas expecting to be flooded as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

Emphasis mine. And here's the White House's response:

The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives, protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the parishes of Allen, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Caldwell, Claiborne, Catahoula, Concordia, De Soto, East Baton Rouge, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Franklin, Grant, Jackson, LaSalle, Lincoln, Livingston, Madison, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Pointe Coupee, Ouachita, Rapides, Red River, Richland, Sabine, St. Helena, St. Landry, Tensas, Union, Vernon, Webster, West Carroll, West Feliciana, and Winn.

Strange that they would leave out Orleans Parish, don't you think?

Still, there's some good news - FEMA has hired a special consultant to investigate what went wrong in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. A special consultant who happens to go by the name of... Michael Brown.

5Neal Cavuto dumb
Stop the presses! Fox News anchor Neal Cavuto has discovered the fatal flaw in American society: it turns out that you can't be a good journalist and a good American at the same time. Here's what he had to say on "Hannity & Colmes" last week:

I would much sooner go down as a pretty good American when I try to be versus a good journalist. The good journalist thing is not nearly as important.

Um, hello? I was kinda under the impression that being a "good journalist" - ie. reporting facts, uncovering truth, unspinning government propaganda, enlightening the population, etc. - was being a "good American." Apparently not. These days all those things make you a bad American. It's "you're either with us or against us" taken to it's ultimate, dumbass conclusion.

According to Neal, being a "good American" means accepting whatever the government tells you without question and burying the truth if you happen to stumble across it. It's somewhat bizarre that someone who feels this way would actually have a job on television as a journalist, but it does give you a good indication of where the media is today.

Oh well, Neal can try as hard as he likes to be one or the other. Unfortunately for him he'll always be a bad journalist and a bad American.

6Karen Hughes excessive spin excessive spin dumb
I don't know what Karen Hughes did to piss Bush off. Maybe she was too slow fetching his milk and cookies. Or perhaps she accidentally threw out his favorite Mad Magazine. Whatever it was, she surely couldn't have deserved the position she's in now: her new job as undersecretary of state is to try to repair American's tarnished image in the Middle East. Hmm. Good luck with that one.

Hughes has certainly gotten off to a rocky start. Last week she was lambasted twice in two days - first in Saudi Arabia, then in Turkey - by women's groups who were opposed to America's Middle East policies. "Angry," "ashamed," "wounded," and "insulted" were just a few of the choice words the women used to express their feelings. Hughes did her best to cheer them up, but I don't think saying that her "friend President Bush" did all he could to avoid a war in Iraq was particularly succesful, as lines of bullshit go.

Hughes also demonstrated her extensive knowledge of American history by informing an Egyptian opposition leader that "our constitution cites 'one nation under God.'" Um, I'm not sure which constitution she's referring to because it certainly doesn't say that in the U.S. Constitution. Perhaps the Bushies have written a new one without telling us. What's that? They have? Oh.

Of course it's possible that Karen Hughes was just following the Cavuto Doctrine. After all, I'm sure it's not possible to be a good American and a good undersecretary of state.

7 Bill Bennett racism racism racism
Last week famous GOP moralist-slash-gambling addict Bill Bennett announced on his syndicated radio show that he had discovered a way to lower crime rates. Here's what he had to say:

I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could - if that were your sole purpose - you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.

Perhaps sensing that he had made a blunder, Bennett added that this would be: impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do.

And then concluded with:

But your crime rate would go down.

Bennett, a former U.S. secretary of education, was apparently referring to a recently-published book which speculates that the legalization of abortion has caused crime to go down in recent decades because there are fewer children born into poverty. Apparently Bennett said he disagreed with that particular theory and instead came up with one of his own: that it was in fact "black babies" which are the root of the nation's problems.

You know, it's really hard to stick to the golden rule of Internet debate - ie. the first person to bring up Adolf Hitler loses the argument - when you're talking about a guy who thinks that eugenics is the answer to lowering crime rates.

8George W. Bush anti-environment hypocrisy
Last week Our Great Leader made a pitiful attempt to rally the nation in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. "We can all pitch in by using - by being better conservers of energy," he said. Ha ha! You must be joking, right?

This is the guy who last week made his SEVENTH trip to the gulf coast region aboard Air Force One in search of just one more photo-op that would at least make it look like he was doing something. And flying on Air Force One ain't cheap - apparently it costs $6,029 per hour in fuel expenses alone.

George W. Bush has been in the pockets of the oil companies since day one, and now he's finally getting around to making the meek suggestion that Americans should perhaps do more to conserve fuel. Yeah right. It's all in a day's work for George "Do As I Say Not As I Do" Bush.

9David Graves booze car
Last week state Rep. David Graves (R-Macon) tried to get out of a DUI charge by claiming that his drinking had been part of an "official legislative function." Nice try!

Apparently there's an obscure clause in Georgia's state constitution which says that a lawmaker "cannot be arrested during sessions of the General Assembly, legislative committee meetings or while they're in transit to a meeting or session," according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Graves got liquored-up at a dinner with other state lawmakers and was pulled over on the way home. His lawyer claimed that he should receive immunity because the dinner was "tantamount to a committee meeting." Unfortunately for Graves, the judge didn't see it that way.

Funnily enough, Graves is actually in trouble for two DUI incidents, although he was only trying to claim legislative immunity for the second one. Honestly, is it any wonder that George W. Bush's "era of responsibility" is teetering on the brink of total collapse?

10Paul Milde drugs prison
And finally, here's one more nail in the coffin of Republican respectability. It was recently revealed that Paul Milde, Republican candidate for the Stafford County (Virginia) Board of Supervisors, has a bit of a shady past which he must have accidentally failed to mention.

Apparently back in 1986 Milde was convicted of "possession of cocaine with intent to distribute" and sentenced to six years in the county jail. Then in 1995 he pleaded guilty to the charge of "attempted burglary as an accessory after the fact." And now, in 2005, he's running for office as a Republican.

Sounds like he'll be perfect for the job! A criminal record may not yet be a necessity for elected Republicans, but I bet that "work experience" can take him a long way in today's GOP. See you next week!

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