TPM News

On "Radio Row" at the CPAC you'll find pols lined up to talk with conservative talk show hosts. After he stepped away from speaking with G. Gordon Liddy, TPM caught up with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay about where the GOP is heading and should head:

In addition to this morning's fireworks in the Minnesota courtroom, the court also just heard arguments on a very interesting motion from Team Coleman: That the court must take their ruling from two weeks ago to apply strict standards for letting in new ballots, and apply it retroactively to all the absentee ballots that were let in on Election Night.

The obvious problem here: There is no way to directly subtract votes, because the envelopes and the ballots were de-coupled on Election Night, and there is no way to reunite them.

Coleman lawyer James Langdon suggested a possible remedy -- though he's not advocating this yet -- would be to do a pro-rata reduction. That would be to take the number of invalid ballot envelopes, and proportionately deduct votes from each candidate according to the county or precinct results. Later on, he was even clearer in saying this was the only remedy.

Read More →

Reader T.A. notes that seeing the video of someone lying is more powerful than just reading the text.

So true! So here's the part of Bobby Jindal's speech from Tuesday night where he makes stuff up about Katrina. Enjoy...

A newly-released CNN poll, conducted just over a week ago, asked Republicans their choice for the 2012 nomination: Sarah Palin 29%, Mike Huckabee 26%, Mitt Romney 21%, Bobby Jindal 9%, Someone Else 10%. The margin of error is ±4.5%.

Bear in mind this poll as done before this week's address to Congress by President Obama -- and thus before Jindal's response speech.

So who knows what impact the speech has had on Jindal's numbers. It raised his name recognition, certainly -- but it wasn't exactly a good speech, and he's been ridiculed on all the late-night comedy shows. That, and it obviously predates today's news that he completely lied during his speech about his experiences in Hurricane Katrina.

Then again, Rush Limbaugh has been rallying the Republican base against the liberal media's ganging up on Jindal, and also against the Republicans who have joined in.

Looks like the game is up.

Remember that story Bobby Jindal told in his big speech Tuesday night -- about how during Katrina, he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with a local sheriff who was battling government red tape to try to rescue stranded victims?

Turns out it wasn't actually, you know, true.

In the last few days, first Daily Kos, and then TPMmuckraker, raised serious questions about the story, based in part on the fact that no news reports we could find place Jindal in the affected area at the specific time at issue.

Jindal had described being in the office of Sheriff Harry Lee "during Katrina," and hearing him yelling into the phone at a government bureaucrat who was refusing to let him send volunteer boats out to rescue stranded storm victims, because they didn't have the necessary permits. Jindal said he told Lee, "that's ridiculous," prompting Lee to tell the bureaucrat that the rescue effort would go ahead and he or she could arrest both Lee and Jindal.

But now, a Jindal spokeswoman has admitted to Politico that in reality, Jindal overheard Lee talking about the episode to someone else by phone "days later." The spokeswoman said she thought Lee, who died in 2007, was being interviewed about the incident at the time.

This is no minor difference. Jindal's presence in Lee's office during the crisis itself was a key element of the story's intended appeal, putting him at the center of the action during the maelstrom. Just as important, Jindal implied that his support for the sheriff helped ensure the rescue went ahead. But it turns out Jindal wasn't there at the key moment, and played no role in making the rescue happen.

There's a larger point here, though. The central anecdote of the GOP's prime-time response to President Obama's speech, intended to illustrate the threat of excessive government regulation, turns out to have been made up.

Maybe it's time to rethink the premise.

Late Update: Politico's Ben Smith has updated his post with the following:

UPDATE: I'd initially misunderstood Sellers to be saying Jindal and Lee didn't meet while rescue efforts were still underway. In fact, she said, the conversation took place in the aftermath of the storm, but after the boat incident.

"Bobby and I walked into harry lee's office - he's yelling on the phone about a decision he's already made," Jindal chief of staff Timmy Teepell recalled. "He's saying this is a decision I made, and if you don't like it you can come and arrest me."

Teepell said the exchange took place in the week following Katrina, when Jindal visited Jefferson Parish multiple times.

"He was boots on the ground all the time," he said.


This doesn't seem to bear on the key question. As we said, the key elements of Jindal's story were that he was in Lee's office during the crisis itself, and that his support for the sheriff helped ensure the rescue went ahead. Neither of those things was true, it now seems.

Late Video Update: Here's the relevant section of Jindal's speech.



Late Late Update: Hilariously, Jindal's office keeps going back to Politico to try to straighten out its story, but it's only digging itself in deeper.

David Keene is one of the most important figures in the conservative movement. As Chairman of the American Conservative Union, the former aide to Bob Dole wields considerable behind-the-scenes influence in the movement. He spoke with TPM about what the movement needs to do and how this period in the wilderness compares with 1977 and 1993.

All hell just broke loose in the Minnesota courtroom, with Al Franken's lawyers catching Team Coleman in the act of yet more concealing of evidence -- and they've now made a motion to totally strike the Coleman camp's claims about double-counting of ballots, which the Coleman camp has hoped to use to subtract over 100 votes from Franken's lead.

You might remember that on Wednesday, the Coleman team was caught having withheld notes given to them in early January by Pamela Howell, a Republican election worker in Minneapolis. (Note: Minnesota precinct workers are selected by partisan identification, and then buddied up across party lines to keep it running smoothly and honestly.) The court then struck the witness' testimony, relating to double-counting of votes -- but then turned around yesterday and reversed themselves, after the Coleman team said it had been an honest oversight -- that there was no bad faith involved.

This morning, Franken lawyer David Lillehaug was restarting his cross-examination of Howell, and inquired as to whether there had been any further communications between herself and Coleman. The answer was yes -- and Coleman lawyer Tony Trimble then had to cough up some private e-mails he'd sent to Howell in early January.

"Pam, the legal team and campaign have made a strategic litigation decision to hold off from having you sign and us file your affidavit at this time," Trimble (or possibly his assistant, Matt Haapoja) wrote on January 6, saying this was being done "to avoid tying you down to any particular testimony and to avoid having to disclose your name and statement."

Read More →

Maybe Judd Gregg's withdrawal as Commerce Secretary nominee really was for the best.

In a lengthy and detailed investigative report, the Associated Press reveals today that the New Hamshire GOP senator funneled federal earmarks to a defunct Granite State air-force base, despite the fact that he and his brother had lucrative real estate investments there.

The key details:

Gregg, R-N.H., personally has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in Cyrus Gregg's office projects at the Pease International Tradeport, a Portsmouth business park built at the defunct Pease Air Force Base, once home to nuclear bombers. Judd Gregg has collected at least $240,017 to $651,801 from his investments there, Senate records show, while helping arrange at least $66 million in federal aid for the former base.


So let's lay out what we know here.

On one side, Judd Gregg seems to have a significant personal financial stake in Pease. Cyrus Gregg is a partner in a development firm, Two International Group, that has built roughly a dozen office buildings at Pease. And according to state corporate records and Senate disclosure reports, Judd Gregg has invested in several of his brother's projects.

How much has Judd Gregg made from those investments?. According to the AP, which looked at Gregg's Senate disclosure filings, "at least $240,017 and possibly as much as $651,801" between 1999 and 2007 in rent and capital gains.

Now, let's look at the other side: What has Gregg done to benefit Pease from the Senate?

Over to the AP again:
In the Senate, Gregg has repeatedly won federal money for Pease's redevelopment: • At least $24.8 million for a new federal building. The senator said the city of Portsmouth wanted to move an unattractive federal building out of its picturesque downtown. The new building hasn't been built yet, he said. • At least $24.5 million for other New Hampshire National Guard projects at the base, including a new fire and crash rescue station, a new medical training facility, repair to an aircraft parking ramp and the upgrade of an aircraft parking apron. • $8.9 million for a new wing headquarters operations and training facility at Pease for the Air National Guard. • At least $8 million to help Pease's airport transition from military to civilian use, including improving terminal security, buying snow removal equipment, building an aircraft deicing area and adding a parking lot. • $475,000 to shield office buildings at Pease from noise from the former Air Force runway, which is now used by private planes and the New Hampshire Air National Guard. Earlier, Gregg lined up $25,000 in federal money for noise monitoring equipment at Pease. • $400,000 for development of a photonics and laser technology program at the New Hampshire Community Technical College campus at Pease. Earlier, Gregg and then-Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., won federal money to develop the college's biotechnology lab, and education and training center at Pease.


Gregg claims he broke no laws or ethics rules, and that the earmarks don't benefit him financially. But improvements to Pease's terminal security, and efforts to shield Pease's office buildings from noise, would appear, at least potentially, to increase the value of his investment.

It's not clear whether Gregg's interest in Pease played a role in his withdrawal as Commerce Secretary nominee. AP reports:
The senator has said his withdrawal had nothing to do with anything the White House uncovered in his background. A White House spokesman, Ben LaBolt, declined to discuss the matter with the AP. AP began looking into the Greggs' activities at Pease before then but had not yet contacted them or the White House before Judd Gregg withdrew.

Fred, what gives? You'll return Columbia Journalism Review's calls, but not ours? Where did we go wrong?

Fred Hiatt has broken his silence on that George Will global warming denialist column that set off such a hulabaloo. In an interview with CJR published last night, Hiatt defended the decision to run Will's column, despite several clear misrepresentations of science that have been thoroughly documented.

Hiatt argued that, rather than trying to prevent Will from expressing his point of view, Will's critics should take him on.

"Do I think it's somehow dangerous to have one of our many columnists casting doubt on this consensus?" Hiatt asked. "No, I think it's healthy. And let the other ones come in and slam him, if they think it's irresponsible. That's what an opinion page is for."

But nowhere in the interview does Hiatt appear to grapple with the actual argument of Will's numerous critics, which is that the column at issue contained outright misrepresentations of scientific data, on a level that goes far beyond honest differences of opinion.

Here's the relevant excerpt from CJR's report, so you can judge for yourself:

"We looked into these allegations, and I have a different interpretation than [those who signed the letter] about what George Will is and is not entitled to," said the paper's editorial page editor, Fred Hiatt. "If you want to start telling me that columnists can't make inferences which you disagree with--and, you know, they want to run a campaign online to pressure newspapers into suppressing minority views on this subject--I think that's really inappropriate. It may well be that he is drawing inferences from data that most scientists reject -- so, you know, fine, I welcome anyone to make that point. But don't make it by suggesting that George Will shouldn't be allowed to make the contrary point. Debate him."

Hiatt said that he has invited both the World Meteorological Organization and the Arctic Ice Center at the University of Illinois to write a letter for publication taking issue with anything that George wrote, but neither organization has taken him up on the offer. Hiatt added that he doesn't think Will has an obligation to point out, "in every column he writes about climate change," that such organizations disagree with his interpretation of their data.

"If you're concerned that readers of The Washington Post don't get a sense that most of the world thinks climate change is real, I think that's a misplaced concern," he said. "And I can tell you: I don't share George's view. If you read our editorial pages you would know that we believe that the evidence of climate change is sufficiently alarming to justify major changes in public policy. But, you know what? I think it's kind of healthy, given how, in so many areas--not just climatology, but medicine, and everything else--there is a tendency on the part of the lay public at times to ascribe certainty to things which are uncertain. I believe, and this me personally speaking, that there is a lot more we don't know about climatology and there's a lot more we have to learn in terms of our ability to predict climatological phenomena and how what's happening in the oceans is going to interact with what's happening in the atmosphere. And do I think it's somehow dangerous to have one of our many columnists casting doubt on this consensus? No, I think it's healthy. And let the other ones come in and slam him, if they think it's irresponsible. That's what an opinion page is for."


Separately, yesterday we got a sneek peak at Will's latest column, in which he digs in his heels on the issue of global warming. (It's now up on the Washington Post site.)

We decided to leave the debunking of Will's self-defense to others more expert in the subject. And Carl Zimmer, who writes frequently about science for the New York Times, has now done so, in a detailed rebuttal to Will posted on the website of Discover magazine, that concludes:
In trying to justify an old error, Will can't help making new ones. But at this point, I'm not expecting any corrections.


Late Update: Andrew Revkin of the New York Times has added his own detailed rebuttal of Will's latest column, which itself was framed as a response to a piece by Revkin earlier this week that criticized Will's original column.

We await Will's response to Revkin's response to Will's response to Revkin's response to Will.

LiveWire