Color Theory: “Red America” and “Red Dawn”

· Edgewise, Paleoblogs, Republicans

Edgewise readers are probably familiar with the story of the Washington Post Online’s new right-wing blog, “Red America,” written by a 24-year-old sometime Republican speechwriter named Ben Domenech, who also runs the site. Various writers at Daily Kos & eslewhere have detailed the various aspects that make his hiring so egregious — that a party functionary has been hired to “balance” a working reporter (Dan Froomkin), that he feels no need to support his assertions with links or other references, that he’s such a chickenhawk his website sells Cafe Press coffee mugs drooling about Marines killing Bad Guys (coffee mugs! you can’t make this stuff up), plagiarism, etc., so I won’t rehash all that here.
Instead, I’ll just note that his blog demonstrates how completely the political connotations of “red” have been reversed in the last 20 years or so. In his inaugural column (no link, as a matter of principle), Domenech cites the 1984 movie “Red Dawn” as some sort of cultural/political touchstone. I haven’t seen it, but it’s apparently a fantasy of gun-totin’ American resistance to a Soviet invasion. That is, “red” in the movie title refers to communism, and in the blog title it refers to Republican voters. A red dawn was a Bad Thing, back in the day, but a red America is now a Good Thing.
The similarities between the radical Republican impulse toward single-party rule and communist totalitarianism have also been discussed elsewhere, and IMO somewhat exaggerated. But it is fascinating how enthusiastically those who a generation ago said “better dead than Red” have embraced the new color symbolism. I suspect that when the TV networks first used red/blue color coding to denote which party had gotten a state’s electoral votes, they assigned blue to Democrats because assigning red would have looked like overt red-baiting. The symbolism works for Republicans in the same way that it worked for communism, by evoking a powerful emotional response. Red is the hot color, blue the cool color. Red is the color of blood, of life, of sex; blue is the color of dispassionate discourse. We can’t break that association, of course, but maybe by bringing it to light we can detach it from our political parties.

Shooting Indians in a Barrel: The Trust Scandal

· Edgewise, Paleoblogs, Republicans

It’s nearly as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. Gale Norton’s Department of the Interior is so far winning the Bush Administration’s fight against the Indians. A ten-year-old struggle to right 118 years of wrongs against American Indians is at an impasse with the Bush government holding most of the trump cards. The fight, embodied in the class-action lawsuit, Cobell v. Norton, has been likened to the legendary lawsuit in Charles Dickens’ Bleak House that brought nothing but trouble and despair to generations of family heirs.
Norton’s Interior department, refusing to accept defeat after losing the lawsuit, filed an appeal, which it also lost, and is now seeking to remove the judge who ruled for the Indians. And if that ploy doesn’t work, there’s the Dear Tribal Leader letters dated Jan. 26, and signed by Associate Deputy Interior Secretary James Cason, telling the Indians that Interior plans to pay the $7.1 million in court and lawyer fees they were ordered to pay through cuts in various Indian programs.
The lawsuit, filed in 1996, came out of Indian tribes’ attempt to find and recover billions of dollars in revenues from government leases of their lands since 1887. Since that year, 11 million acres of Indian tribal land have been held in trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, or BIA, within the Department of the Interior, which was to collect and distribute over $300 million in annual revenues from agriculture, oil, mining, and timber leases on the Indian lands. In fact, an audit of the Interior department’s Individual Indian Monies (IIM) trust revealed that no records could be located before 1973, and between 1973 and 1992 more than $2.4 billion in revenues owed to Indians was missing or unaccounted for. U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, who has presided over the decade-long suit and appeal, told one Interior witness in the trial, “You know any banker would be in jail for handling funds like this, don’t you?”
And if you don’t think the Bush Administration is out to get every last dime they can cheat from Indians going into the future take a look at the article by D.C. Attorney Lee Helfrich, writing for Nieman Watchdog who notes that:

Both Senator John McCain (R. Ariz.) and Representative Richard Pombo (R. Ca.) have introduced legislation that would preclude Indians from acting collectively by filing class actions. Instead each Indian will be left alone to seek relief from the federal government–no level playing field for them. The bills only mandate that the government consider the money that actually “passed through” an individual Indian account in paying on a claim, not what Interior left uncollected for a century because of its “honor system.”

That “honor system” allowed gas, oil, and mining companies to pay what they wanted–including nothing–for public and Indian land leases.
Over at Daily Kos, Wampum blogger MB Williams points out that the Abramoff influence buying and campaign contribution scandal is part of a bigger picture that involves Bush’s cabinet appointees and Republican legislators:

The story of Jack Abramoff’s buying of influence goes well beyond a few Congressional players. While those relationships are key to the story, they’re secondary to his cozy relationship with CREA director Italia Federici, her former boss, Sec. of the Interior, Gale Norton, and Deputy Sec. Steven Griles, and this seedy gang’s take-over of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).

Williams points out that Republican attempts to “settle” the Cobell v. Norton lawsuit at the expense of Indian plaintiffs is likely to be helped by the current characterization of “Abramoff tribes”:

McCain and Pombo are once again pushing for a settlement, and in the increasingly hostile environment for Indians due to success in portraying Abramoff’s tribal clients as villains, not victims, they’ll most likely get it, at rock-bottom prices.

Abramoff vs The Tribes

· Edgewise, Paleoblogs, Republicans

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra J. Saunders sounded like Rep. Richard Pombo’s big sister taking on the corner bullies in her Sunday rant, “Lay off Pombo” in which she lit into “the left”, Nancy Pelosi, and Democratic party leaders for picking on Pombo for getting money from the tainted former lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, and his “client tribes.” She pointed out that Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash) also got money from “Abramoff tribes,” thus proving her point that “…Democratic leaders don’t really care about ethics.”
The Abramoff “lobbying” scandal has begun to morph into a veiled attack on American tribal groups now described as “client tribes” of the confidence man and scam artist Jack Abramoff. The tribes were the victims of the scandal – not the perpetrators. It was their money that Abramoff siphoned into his fake “charity” groups, such as the Capital Athletic Foundation, which received $2.02 million from tribes he promised to help. The Capital Athletic Foundation then spent the money on a private school Abramoff created and which his sons attended. Abramoff also solicited tribal contributions for the National Center for Public Policy Research, which in turn paid for the now-infamous golfing party in Scotland for indicted former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, his wife, and others.
The tribes believed they were getting access to the people in Washington who could help them secure enabling legislation for their casino operations, highly lucrative businesses for the tribes that are able to build them. Jack Abramoff was a canny operator who used the tribes’ profits to fund his own ambitions as a star fundraiser for conservative politicians and the Republican party. Here’s what one of them told Washington Post journalist,
Thomas B. Edsall, in a Nov. 8, 2004 article:
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), said Abramoff convinced him that “it was the conservatives who would be the saviors of the Indians by providing an environment where they could be self-sufficient and run their own affairs instead of being like inner-city welfare recipients.”
It is obvious from the e-mail messages (evidence in the Senate Indian Affairs Committtee investigation) between Jack Abramoff and his business partner, Michael Scanlon, that they had nothing but contempt for the tribal leaders that funded Abramoff’s political kitties. And as for being a “super lobbyist” (as Saunders refers to him), Abramoff directed most of the tribes’ money to his own private slush funds not to Greenberg-Traurig, the lobbying firm he was nominally employed by.
And as for Debra J. Saunders, you have to read the fifth paragraph of her Sunday column carefully to catch her unequal comparison of “Abramoff” money received by Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Richard Pombo: Murray’s money ($40,980 in 2002 and 2004) came only from “Abramoff tribes” while Pombo’s money came directly from Abramoff and his wife ($7,000 in 2004) as well as from “Abramoff tribes” ($33,500 in 2004).
So Debra and others, Lay Off The Tribes and see Abramoff for what he really is, Republican confidence man who saw in tribal profits a path to political riches for the party of George W. Bush.

Bush signed anti-torture statute with fingers crossed

· Edgewise, Paleoblogs, Republicans

>”When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean–neither more nor less.”
>”The question is, ” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
>”The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty. “which is to be master–that’s all.”
Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass
> First, the President signaled his intention to reserve his authority, as Commander in Chief, to ignore statutory mandates. These include provisions that require advance notice of congressional committees before the use of funds to initiate a special access program, a new overseas installation, or a new start program; and a “report and wait” provision that requires the President to wait 15 days after notifying six congressional committees before using certain appropriations to transfer defense articles or services to another nation or an international organization for international peacekeeping, peace enforcement, or humanitarian assistance operations.
> …
>Second, the President unsurprisingly signals that the Administration reads the Graham Amendments to cut off currently pending habeas cases, including most importantly the Hamdan case that’s now before the Supreme Court and the Al Odah case (Rasul on remand) that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has under review
Marty Lederman, So Much for the President’s Assent to the McCain Amendment

Abramoff & DeLay: “free-market ” friends

· Edgewise, Paleoblogs, Republicans

Just cleaning out my files….here’s an excerpt from Thomas B. Edsall’s piece in the Washington Post from 2004:

In 1995, Abramoff took on another major client, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, an American protectorate in the Pacific. Again, he capitalized on his ability to exploit conservative ideology.
The Marianas sought to retain exemptions from U.S. immigration and labor laws to import laborers from China at $3.05 an hour — $2 under the federal minimum wage — to make garments labeled “Made in the U.S.A.” Abramoff portrayed the Marianas as a case study of the success of the free market unfettered by wage and immigration laws.
DeLay became Abramoff’s strongest ally, leading the fight against Democratic efforts to impose wage, hour and immigration regulations on the protectorate. On a trip to the Marianas, DeLay told officials, according to media accounts:

“When one of my closest and dearest friends, Jack Abramoff, your most able representative in Washington, D.C., invited me to the islands, I wanted to see firsthand the free-market success and the progress and reform you have made.”

[By Thomas B. Edsall
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 8, 2004; Page A23 ]
and the latest on suspension of habeas corpus for Guantanamo prisoners….