Day: December 14, 2011

Is Newt Gingrich Nuts?

I would say so, but then again I’m not a psychiatrist…

Slate 

Consider the symptoms: Bouts of grandiosity, megalomania, irritability, impulsiveness, spending sprees …

[...]

One possibility is that Newt suffers, and benefits from, the milder affliction of hypomania. In his 2005 book The Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between (a Little) Craziness and (a Lot of) Success in America , John D. Gartner, a Johns Hopkins psychiatrist, argues that this form of extreme optimism explains the achievements of everyone from Christopher Columbus to Andrew Carnegie. Gartner writes: “Hypomanics are brimming with infectious energy, irrational confidence, and really big ideas. They think, talk, move, and make decisions quickly. Anyone who slows them down with questions ‘just doesn’t get it.’” Hypomanics lack discipline, act on impulse, suffer from over-confidence, and often lack judgment.

Sound like anyone you’ve seen on Fox News recently? Several years ago, Gartner himself described Gingrich as “our last great hypomanic figure.” There is, however, no clear boundary between the productive state of hypomania andCharlie Sheen. Often, Gingrich sounds closer to the latter. When in an ebullient mood, he grabs the nearest microphone and begins propounding the theory that only he can save the world from imminent destruction. Sometimes Gingrich is leading a revolution. Sometimes he’s preventing one. It doesn’t matter. Only he can do it.

[...]

The most vivid image of Newt’s Messiah complex came out of the GOPAC scandal . For those too young to remember, Gingrich gained control of this murky non-profit in 1986 and turned it into a promotional vehicle-cum-political slush fund. It was an earlier incarnation of Newt Inc . GOPAC ran into trouble raising tax-deductible money to fund a nominally academic course called “Renewing American Civilization,” which Gingrich taught at the School of Business Administration at Kennesaw State College, in Kennesaw, Georgia. The House Ethics Committee investigated and criticized Gingrich for, more or less, lack of discipline, acting on impulse, and lack of judgment. He was fined $300,000 for lying to Congress about various matters. In its final report, the Ethics Committee appended internal GOPAC documents, including some of Newt’s handwritten notes from the period leading up to his big 1994 victory.

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Scott Walker Recall Volunteers Say They Have Proof Of Intimidation By Opponents

Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker recall effort is turning out to be nasty and filled with dirty tricks from Scott Walker advocates.

The Huffington Post

Volunteers working for the effort to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) captured a video this week that they claim is proof of the sort of intimidation and harassment they’ve been subjected to over the past month.

In the video, available at ABC affiliate WISN, a visibly upset Fred Frisby can be seen approaching the camera of Walker recall volunteer Steve Nagel while hurling obscenities and eventually making physical contact. Frisby was later arrested by local police and charged with disorderly conduct.

“I just thought this guy is out of control. I could just see the steam coming off his head. So I thought, ‘Wow, this could be serious,'” Nagel, who was out on a busy street in Brookfield, Wisconsin collecting petitions, told WISN.

Another volunteer, Steve Spieckerman said Frisby got angry after volunteers wouldn’t answer questions about what they didn’t like about Scott Walker.

“Do you pay health care? No, you don’t pay health care. You mooching off the system?” Frisby can be seen asking, before apparently grabbing Nagel’s camera.

“He turned around and he jammed the camera back in my chest and he put his fist up to my face and said, ‘How do you like that?'” Nagel said.

Some petitioners claim that this type of behavior has become typical in the recall campaign.

Volunteer Jim Brown told WISN that there are “a lot of people who flip us off, who yell at us and call us names,” but earlier reports suggest that some actions are more hostile than this.

There have been multiple reports of opponents to the Scott Walker recall effort destroying or defacing petitions, a felony act punishable by a $10,000 fine or up to 3 1/2 years in jail. Volunteers have also alleged more violent forms of intimidation, such as death threats, destruction of property and onereported incident in which a driver supposedly threatened petitioners with his vehicle.

Despite these claimed encounters, volunteers for the Scott Walker recall effort reported that they had collected more than 300,000 signatures as of the end of November, just 12 days after the beginning of the petition drive. They’ll need to collect 540,208 valid signatures by Jan. 17 in order to trigger a recall election.

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Timeline: The Best Government Money Can Buy

Mother Jones

By Aaron Ross | January/February 2012 Issue

A short, shady history of how American elections are bought and paid for.

1758 George Washington’s successful campaign for the Virginia House of Burgesses spends £39 on booze to “treat” voters on Election Day ($8,130 in 2011 dollars).
1800 Thomas Jefferson hires a writer to smear President John Adams as “mentally deranged” and a “hideous hermaphroditical character.” Propagandist is imprisoned under the Sedition Act; Jefferson wins the election.
1829 President Andrew Jackson advocates rewarding loyalists with political office. Sen. William Marcy later notes approvingly, “To the victor belong the the spoils of the enemy.”

Thomas Nast/Harpers Weekly/Wikimedia

1867 In America’s first federal campaign finance reform law, Congress makes it illegal to pressure workers at naval yards for political contributions.
1872 Railroad financier Jay Cooke gives $50,000 to the Republican Party—25 percent of its budget. A historian writes of President Ulysses S. Grant, “Never before was a candidate placed under such great obligation to men of wealth.”
1875 Mark Twain: “I think I can say, and say with pride, that we have some legislatures that bring higher prices than any in the world.”
1883 Congress prohibits soliciting civil servants for political contributions.
1896 President William McKinley’s campaign manager hits up corporations for donations sized “according to [their] stake in the general prosperity of the country.”
1906 Accused of fundraising improprieties, President Theodore Roosevelt calls for a ban on all corporate contributions “for any political purpose,” leading to passage of the Tillman Act (named after white supremacist Sen. “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman).
1911 Congress introduces individual spending limits for federal campaigns.
1943 After Congress bans political giving by unions, the Congress of Industrial Organizations forms the first PAC, skirting the restrictions by collecting campaign money outside of regular dues.
1952 VP candidate Richard Nixon delivers his “Checkers” speech, defending more than $18,000 in secret donations: “Every penny of it was used to pay for political expenses that I did not think should be charged to the taxpayers.”

billypalooza/Flickrbillypalooza/Flickr

1971 President Nixon tells his chief of staff to tell donors, “Anybody who wants to be an ambassador must at least give $250,000.” Dwayne Andreas, CEO of Archer Daniels Midland, later delivers $100,000 to Nixon’s secretary and helps fund the Watergate break-in.
1974 Congress imposes stricter limits on individual contributions and outside expenditures and sets up the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
1976 Buckley v. Valeo strikes down some of the new restrictions, finding that election spending is constitutionally protected speech.
1979 Newfound loopholes permit corporations and unions to give unlimited “soft money” to the Republican and Democratic national committees for “party-building activities.”
1991 Five senators, including Sen. John McCain, are found to have advocated on behalf of Charles Keating’s failing S&L after receiving a combined $1.3 million in campaign money.
1996 A California Buddhist temple illegally gives at least $65,000 to the Democratic National Committee on behalf of wealthy donors. The scandal prompts the DNC to return $3 million in donations.
1997 The Clinton administration releases a list of 938 overnight guests at the White House, many of whom slumbered in the Lincoln Bedroom. Others received coffee, golf outings, or morning jogs with the president. All told, these donors gave some $10 million to Democrats in the 1996 election.
2002 The McCain-Feingold Act bans soft money in federal elections and bans the use of corporate or union funds to make ads about candidates in the weeks before an election.

Aaron Webb/FlickrAaron Webb/Flickr

2005 GOP Majority Leader Tom DeLay is indicted for funneling corporate money through the RNC to Texas Republicans. More than five years later, he isconvicted of money laundering and sentenced to three years in prison. He’s out on bail while appealing.
2006 Lobbyist Jack Abramoff admits trading golf junkets, meals at his DC restaurant, and campaign contributions for political favors. President George W. Bush and GOP leaders rush to dump donations linked to him.
2007 The Supreme Court sides with lawyer James Bopp (who will later bring theCitizens United case) and eases limits on corporate and union-backed ads close to an election, so long as they’re not for or against candidates (wink, wink).
2010 Citizens United ruling allows corporations and unions to advocate for or against candidates at any time. Two months later, in Speechnow.org v. FEC, an appeals court strikes down limits on contributions to independent-expenditure shops. The super-PAC is born.
2011 As super-PACs proliferate, the FEC approves Stephen Colbert’s Making a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow. Colbert exalts, “Today, we put liberty on lay away.”

Brian Hogg/FlickrBrian Hogg/Flickr

Trump Drops Out Of Newsmax Debate Due To “Conflict Of Interest”

Donald Trump has an enormously huge ego and will never admit defeat.  Watch…

Real Clear Politics

From Donald Trump’s press release: “It is very important to me that the right Republican candidate be chosen to defeat the failed and very destructive Obama Administration, but if that Republican, in my opinion, is not the right candidate, I am not willing to give up my right to run as an Independent candidate. Therefore, so that there is no conflict of interest within the Republican Party, I have decided not to be the moderator of the Newsmax debate.”

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