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Hi all and many

Hi all, and many thanks to Josh for having me back. Lots of delightful DeLay fallout to chew over this afternoon, but let's kick off with a breathtaking quickie that simply can't wait. <$NoAd$>

It comes via an email from Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who is demanding an apology from conservative morals guru (and Vegas high-roller) William Bennett, for what Reid's office says was the following remark made by Bennett on his talk radio show yesterday:

… you could abort every black baby in this country and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down.

I haven't seen the original context. But even with Bennett's caveat, could there possibly be an exculpatory context? And did someone cast a voodoo curse on prominent conservatives recently ensuring they would all destroy themselves by the end of 2005? Update: Media Matters has the transcript and audio. It seems Bennett was led down this road by a remarkably kooky caller. But I'm not sure it means he's exonerated.

I have to step

I have to step away for the afternoon to work on a talk I'm giving. But filling in will be TNR's Michael Crowley who knows more than a thing or two about the DeLay Machine.

A special thanks to

A special thanks to everyone who came to the Serenity screening last night in Union Square. We had a full house. And the movie was a lot of fun -- even for this guy who'd only seen a few episodes of Buffy and never even heard of Firefly. Everybody I talked to after the screening loved it. Not high concept exactly, or maybe more of the concept would have been discernible if I'd seen the series, but fast-paced, electric and exhilerating. Sort of a mix of the Matrix, with Total Recall, various Harrison Ford movies, dystopic science fiction and the language and moral outlines of old-fashioned westerns. It ran about two hours but felt like about twenty minutes.

Kevin Drum has a

Kevin Drum has a post this morning which poses the question, who ratted out DeLay and Co. in Texas. And he suggests it may have been the corporations whose money was in play rather than any of the operatives.

I have no knowledge of the particulars. But to me that sounds like a very good surmise. Most of the soldiers will stay loyal until their own lawyers explain to them the multi-year prison terms. The point of weakness is the coerced money -- half non-ideological business investment, half protection racket.

And it suggests another point, something we're sure to see coming down the pike. The whole DeLay political machine has been built on the compliance, cooperation and cooptation of big corporations and trade groups who have little ideological truck with DeLayism. It's a business decision -- partly a protection racket. It's not only paying in big sums of money but also hiring DeLay soldiers on instruction.

With DeLay swirling down the tubes, who's going to start calling out those companies, the ones who've followed orders to hire and pay big salaries to DeLay operatives? Is it still good for business to be funding DeLay's operation? Especially when the spotlight falls on particular companies?

Who will bag tomorrows

Who will bag tomorrow's big story: what happened inside that House GOP caucus meeting this afternoon? Just what issue torpedoed David Dreier after Speaker Hastert had given him the nod? What about the folks outside the meeting? Rove weighed in. What did he say? Time for DeLay to go? How about Spongebob nemesis James Dobson? Would he not abide David Dreier?

So whats the deal

So what's the deal exactly?

Clearly, Blunt has pushed David Dreier aside for the Majority Leader's job, allowing Dreier, in turn, to edge out Robert Livingston for shortest ever tenure as Republican congressional leader. But the latest reports I can find have Dreier and Blunt, how else to say it, cohabiting in the Majority Leader's office.

Says Reuters: "After a closed-door meeting of House Republicans, lawmakers said Blunt's position was an interim arrangement for the rest of the year and that he would share leadership responsibilities with Rep. David Dreier of California. It was not immediately clear how Blunt, who had had been the third ranking Republican member of the House, would share duties with Dreier, the chairman of the House Rules Committee."

How does that work exactly?