His first presser as the junior Senator from Minnesota.
The Last Post
2 years ago
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford says he "crossed lines" with a handful of women other than his mistress — but never had sex with them.
The governor says he "never crossed the ultimate line" with anyone but Maria Belen Chapur, the Argentine at the center of a scandal that has derailed Sanford's once-promising political career.
During an emotional interview at his Statehouse office with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Sanford said Chapur is his soul mate but he's trying to fall back in love with his wife.
He says that during the other encounters he "let his guard down" with some physical contact but "didn't cross the sex line." He wouldn't go into detail.
It’s over (for now, anyway, and possibly for good): The Minnesota Supreme Court has just tossed Norm Coleman’s appeal, ruling that Al Franken is the rightful winner of the Senate race. The decision is here.
The conclusion:For all of the foregoing reasons, we affirm the decision of the trial court that Al Franken received the highest number of votes legally cast and is entitled under Minn. 32 Stat. § 204C.40 (2008) to receive the certificate of election as United States Senator from the State of Minnesota.
So in the aftermath of this failure I want to not only apologize, but to commit to growing personally and spiritually. Immediately after all this unfolded last week I had thought I would resign - as I believe in the military model of leadership and when trust of any form is broken one lays down the sword. A long list of close friends have suggested otherwise - that for God to really work in my life I shouldn’t be getting off so lightly. While it would be personally easier to exit stage left, their point has been that my larger sin was the sin of pride. They contended that in many instances I may well have held the right position on limited government, spending or taxes - but that if my spirit wasn't right in the presentation of those ideas to people in the General Assembly, or elsewhere, I could elicit the response that I had at many times indeed gotten from other state leaders.
Their belief was that if I walked in with a real spirit of humility then this last legislative term could well be our most productive one - and that outside this term, I would ultimately be a better person and of more service in whatever doors God opened next in life if I stuck around to learn lessons rather than running and hiding down at the farm.
And that's this: the opposition to a so-called 'public option' comes almost entirely from insurance companies who have developed monopolies or near monopolies in particular geographic areas. And they don't want competition.
Note, I'm not saying more competition. I'm saying any competition at all. As Zack Roth explains in this new piece 94% of the health care insurance market is now under monopoly or near-monopoly conditions -- the official term of art is 'highly concentrated'. In other words, there's no mystery why insurance costs keep going up even as the suck quotient rises precipitously. Because in most areas there's little or no actual competition.
It's something everyone can understand that if you have only one widget maker, widgets will get really expensive, and probably decline in quality. And the widget makers will pour lots of money into Congress or whatever the law-making power is, to keep their monopoly in place because their monopoly ensures locked in profits. It's market theory 101 (or perhaps, rent-seeking 102, depending on your perspective.)
On his radio show, Limbaugh responded to Ridge, saying, “I must have missed something, because I remember that Colin Powell endorsed the Democrat, Barack Obama, at a strategic point in the campaign in 2008.” The blog, Elective Decisions, which features “the satire of Chris Davis,” then wrote up a post saying that Ridge responded to Rush by challenging him to a fight:So this morning, Ridge went back on Washington Journal, responding to Limbaugh’s rhetoric. “I’m so sick of Rush Limbaugh. He’s the reason we lose elections. He needs to get the hell out of the Republican Party. As far as I’m concerned, he isn’t a Republican anymore. The man’s running. The man’s hiding. He’s too scared to face me!”
Ridge continued his rant, threatening Limbaugh. “Meanwhile, he sits there in his ‘Southern Command Post,’ and destroys the Republican Party! I’d like to just have three rounds in a boxing ring with that guy so I could shut him up! I’m caling (sic) you out, Limbaugh. Let’s see if you have a big enough set of marbles to back up your crap!”
Though the “Elective Decisions” blog is clearly marked as “satire,” the Fox Nation linked to the post and promoted it as if it were based on reported facts:
As a result of today’s decision, an employer who discards a dubious selection process can anticipate costly disparate treatment litigation in which its chances for success—even for surviving a summary-judgment motion—are highly problematic. Concern about exposure to disparate-impact liability, however well grounded, is insufficient to insulate an employer from attack. Instead, the employer must make a “strong” showing that (1) its selection method was“not job related and consistent with business necessity,” or (2) that it refused to adopt “an equally valid, less discriminatory alternative.” Ante, at 28. It is hard to see how these requirements differ from demanding that an employer establish “a provable, actual violation” against itself. Cf. ante, at 24. There is indeed a sharp conflict here, but it is not the false one the Court describes between Title VII’s core provisions. It is, instead, the discordance of the Court’s opinion with the voluntary compliance ideal. Cf. Wygant, 476 U. S., at 290 (O’Connor, J., concurring in part and concurring in judgment) (“The imposition of a requirement that public employers make findings that they have engaged in illegal discrimination before they [act] would severely undermine public employers’ incentive to meet voluntarily their civil rights obligations.”).
Shortly after 5 a.m. Wednesday, Smith went to the airport. Shortly after 6 a.m., she met a surprised Sanford. Smith was the only media member there.
Sanford said he had just arrived from Argentina. He also said he had not been on the Appalachian Trail.
When asked who he had been with in Argentina, the governor cut off the interview.
By 7:30 a.m., thestate.com had broken the news that Sanford had not been on the Appalachian Trail, but in Argentina.
In their morning meeting, State editors decided to immediately inform the governor and his inner circle about the e-mails. .
A reporter called a Sanford staffer, saying the paper had e-mails that outlined an affair between the governor and Maria. Unless Sanford would address the issue privately, The State would have no choice but to ask him — with TV crews filming — if he knew Maria at his press conference that afternoon.
The names of two other women tumbled into the newsroom.
Fearful Sanford’s staffers did not get it — that the paper would ask publicly what Sanford’s relationship was with Maria — a State editor called Davis, Sanford’s former chief of staff.
Davis, a Beaufort lawyer, recently had been elected to the state Senate. When called, he quickly said he no longer worked for Sanford.
The editor said he knew that but wanted to talk with Davis. Sanford had landed from Argentina, and the paper had e-mails about an affair with a woman in Argentina.
The editor told Davis why he thought the e-mails were genuine. They mentioned Coosaw, the Sanford plantation, and Sanford’s love of digging holes; they quoted Bible verses and contained details about Sanford’s known schedule.
And more names of women were coming in over the transom. The total was at three and counting.
“Women?!” Davis responded, sounding incredulous. “Women?!”
The editor repeated that the paper would ask Sanford publicly about Maria with TV cameras running. Jenny Sanford and the couple’s four sons should be spared that image, and it was up to Davis to ensure Sanford’s staffers “got it.”
Davis, who said he was in Beaufort, promised to call Sanford’s staff and call back.
When he called back, Davis said he was driving to Columbia.
The only thing that surprised me was when Dana turned to me after our initial sparring and called me a "dick" in a whispered tone (the specific phrase was, I believe, "You're such a dick").
Kerry's spokeswoman now tells The Sleuth the senator really didn't mean what he said, though his clarification would hardly qualify as an apology.
"We stand corrected, the truth is every Democrat hopes Governor Palin is in the public eye for a long, long time, especially on the 2012 presidential ballot," Kerry spokeswoman Jodi Seth says. "Lately it's been Vice President Cheney that everyone hopes would lose the cameras and go for a long leisurely hike on the Appalachian Trail. And good grief, if anyone thinks John Kerry is afraid of strong, smart women, they sure haven't met his brilliant wife and two independent daughters. It sounds like getting crushed these last two election cycles cost some of these Republicans their sense of humor."
Through a spokeswoman, Mrs. Sanford declined requests to be interviewed for this article, but told The Associated Press she learned of her husband’s affair early this year when she found a letter he had written. She told him to end the relationship, but he repeatedly asked permission to visit the woman in Argentina in the months that followed.
“I said absolutely not,” Mrs. Sanford told The A.P. “It’s one thing to forgive adultery. It’s another to condone it.”
Then, last week, when the governor told her he needed time alone to write, she had specifically warned him not to see his mistress. She said she was devastated when he went to meet her in Argentina.
After all the arms had been twisted, only two four Democrats gave their leadership an unpleasant surprise at the end of the climate change vote -- and are firmly in Pelosi-Obama doghouse:
Texas Rep. Ciro Rodriguez and Rep. Alcee Hastings from Florida, according to House sources.
UPDATE: House leadership sources add two more who reportedly said "yes" and voted "no" -- Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.) and Solomon Ortiz (D-Tx.)
Rodriguez had told leadership that he was a likely yes -- but then cast a quick "no" vote and practically sprinted from the chamber, frustrating floor managers whose shouts of "Rodriguez!" rang through the House as the final anxious votes were cast.
At one point, New York Rep. Anthony Weiner bounced from a huddle of leadership members and began calling the rep's name, like a wayward toddler, as he scanned the Speaker's lobby and the adjacent balcony.
"He cast his no and then ran the hell out of there," said a member of the whipping team, still steaming after the vote. "We tried him at his office and they said he was gone."
Today's column is my last for The Washington Post. And the first thing I want to say is thank you. Thank you to all you readers, e-mailers, commenters, questioners, Facebook friends and Twitterers for spending your time with me and engaging with me over the years. And thank you for the recent outpouring of support. It was extraordinarily uplifting, and I'm deeply grateful. If I ever had any doubt, your words have further inspired me to continue doing accountability journalism. My plan is to take a few weeks off before embarking upon my next endeavor -- but when I do, I hope you'll join me.
It's hard to summarize the past five and a half years. But I'll try.
I started my column in January 2004, and one dominant theme quickly emerged: That George W. Bush was truly the proverbial emperor with no clothes. In the days and weeks after the 9/11 terror attacks, the nation, including the media, vested him with abilities he didn't have and credibility he didn't deserve. As it happens, it was on the day of my very first column that we also got the first insider look at the Bush White House, via Ron Suskind's book, The Price of Loyalty. In it, former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill described a disengaged president "like a blind man in a room full of deaf people", encircled by "a Praetorian guard,” intently looking for a way to overthrow Saddam Hussein long before 9/11. The ensuing five years and 1,088 columns really just fleshed out that portrait, describing a president who was oblivious, embubbled and untrustworthy.
When I look back on the Bush years, I think of the lies. There were so many. Lies about the war and lies to cover up the lies about the war. Lies about torture and surveillance. Lies about Valerie Plame. Vice President Dick Cheney's lies, criminally prosecutable but for his chief of staff Scooter Libby's lies. I also think about the extraordinary and fundamentally cancerous expansion of executive power that led to violations of our laws and our principles.
And while this wasn't as readily apparent until President Obama took office, it's now very clear that the Bush years were all about kicking the can down the road – either ignoring problems or, even worse, creating them and not solving them. This was true of a huge range of issues including the economy, energy, health care, global warming – and of course Iraq and Afghanistan.
How did the media cover it all? Not well. Reading pretty much everything that was written about Bush on a daily basis, as I did, one could certainly see the major themes emerging. But by and large, mainstream-media journalism missed the real Bush story for way too long. The handful of people who did exceptional investigative reporting during this era really deserve our gratitude: People such as Ron Suskind, Seymour Hersh, Jane Mayer, Murray Waas, Michael Massing, Mark Danner, Barton Gellman and Jo Becker, James Risen and Eric Lichtblau (better late than never), Dana Priest, Walter Pincus, Charlie Savage and Philippe Sands; there was also some fine investigative blogging over at Talking Points Memo and by Marcy Wheeler. Notably not on this list: The likes of Bob Woodward and Tim Russert. Hopefully, the next time the nation faces a grave national security crisis, we will listen to the people who were right, not the people who were wrong, and heed those who reported the truth, not those who served as stenographers to liars.
It's also worth keeping in mind that there is so very much about the Bush era that we still don't know.
Now, a little over five months after Bush left office, Barack Obama's presidency is shaping up to be in large part about coming to terms with the Bush era, and fixing all the things that were broken. In most cases, Obama is approaching this task enthusiastically – although in some cases, he is doing so only under great pressure, and in a few cases, not at all . I think part of Obama's abiding popularity with the public stems from what a contrast he is from his predecessor -- and in particular his willingness to take on problems. But he certainly has a lot of balls in the air at one time. And I predict that his growing penchant for secrecy – especially but not only when it comes to the Bush legacy of torture and lawbreaking – will end up serving him poorly, unless he renounces it soon.
Obama is nowhere in Bush's league when it comes to issues of credibility, but his every action nevertheless needs to be carefully scrutinized by the media, and he must be held accountable. We should be holding him to the highest standards – and there are plenty of places where we should be pushing back. Just for starters, there are a lot of hugely important but unanswered questions about his Afghanistan policy, his financial rescue plans, and his turnaround on transparency.
To put it as simply as possible, McCain--and his cohorts--are trying to score political points against the President in the midst of an international crisis. It is the sort of behavior that Republicans routinely call "unpatriotic" when Democrats are doing it. I would never question John McCain's patriotism, no matter how misguided his sense of the country's best interests sometimes seems. His behavior has nothing to do with love of country; it has everything to do with love of self.
I want to make a few observations.
1. If you realize that Republican pull the unpatriotic smear out of their back pocket at the drop of a dime then I hope that means the next time you hear it from there whether its a week, month year or decade from now you will LOUDLY call bullsh*t.
2. What does it mean when a Senator acts out of love of self rather than love of country. To me it sounds like you just called McCain out for acting unpatriotically but just didn't want to say the word. And I have a problem with that.
See the problem that I have with it is that he really IS acting unpatriotically. He is ONLY trying to score political points and you yourself acknowledge that. But you try to set up this false equivalence of how Republicans treated Dems who spoke truth to power and what McCain is doing now. See the Dems who were smeared by Republicans for questioning Bush before we went to war in Iraq and who denounced the torture we were doing in GITMO and who spoke out against wireless wiretapping really WERE speaking out in the country's best interest. And they WERE speaking truth to power. And yet the media time and again allowed the Republicans to tar and feather them with the "unpatriotic" smear when what they were doing was the most patriotic thing possible.
On the other hand McCain and his cohorts know good and damn well that all of the things they are attacking Pres Obama is bullsh*t. Thats why when the few responsible journalists out there ask them what they want Pres Obama to say instead McCain nor the rest of them can't give a good response. And again I am preaching to the choir here because you have already acknowledged its all politics with them.
So why can't you call it what it is Joe? Why can't you bring yourself to say he is acting unpatriotically when you know that to be the case? I guess yet again IOKIYAR.
Last week, of course, the situation was reversed, and it was House Republicans "voting against funding our troops." This week, the DCCC is unveiling a series of 60-second radio ads targeting seven vulnerable GOP incumbents on their votes. This one, for example, goes after Rep. Lee Terry (R) of Nebraska."Around here, we recognize Independence Day with parades ... and picnics ... maybe a few fireworks.
"But July Fourth is about more than that. It's about remembering those who fought for our freedoms. And those still fighting today.
"Congressman Lee Terry used to understand that. When George Bush asked, Congressman Terry voted to fully fund our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, last year he said, quote, 'We must give our military every resource it needs.'
"Seems like Congressman Terry is playing politics now. Last month Congressman Terry voted AGAINST funding for those same troops. It's true: vote number 348 -- you can look it up."
"I think the anger against insurance companies is going to spread," Rockefeller said Thursday. "But a public plan, run by the government, will make sure doctors get paid, hospitals get paid and people get good health care.
"Today, an extra 15 percent, 20 percent or 25 percent [of health-care costs] goes to pay private insurance companies. In a public plan, you just pay for what you get. There are no marketers, no people shuffling paper, no one making television ads."
On Thursday, Rockefeller admitted he expects little bipartisan support.
"There is a very small chance any Republicans will vote for this health-care plan. They were against Medicare and Medicaid [created in the 1960s]. They voted against children's health insurance.
"We have a moral choice. This is a classic case of the good guys versus the bad guys. I know it is not political for me to say that," Rockefeller added.
"But do you want to be non-partisan and get nothing? Or do you want to be partisan and end up with a good health- care plan? That is the choice."
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Speaking moments ago to a large and animated crowd of union organizers and health reform advocates in a brewing house just North of the Capitol, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) said he supports a public insurance option.
"Schumer has it right about having a public component," Specter said.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has taken a lead role on negotiations over the public option in the Senate Finance Committee, and earlier this year proposed a compromise: the committee's health care bill should include a public plan, he said, but one that competes on a level playing field with other insurers. Such an entity wouldn't be able to use its sheer size to set prices the way Medicare does--but it could nonetheless incur savings in a host of other ways, and in so doing drive down the cost of health insurance in the private market.
Perhaps more importantly, though, the Schumer proposal is in line with the principles of the major reform campaign Health Care for America Now--and, as such, just about every major health care and labor organization in the country.
The Mark Sanford case is a bit different from the others, and almost admirable. Not for him the usual "I made a mistake" dodge, not for him the exploitation of a staffer or a child. This is a guy who clearly fell in love, and seems unable to hide it very well.
THE PRESIDENT: Nico, I know that you, and all across the Internet, we've been seeing a lot of reports coming directly out of Iran. I know that there may actually be questions from people in Iran who are communicating through the Internet. Do you have a question?
James Dale Guckert (born 1957) posed as a conservative columnist under the pseudonym Jeff Gannon and was given credentials as a White House reporter between 2003 and 2005, eventually being employed by the news organization Talon News during the latter part of this period. Gannon first gained national attention during a presidential press conference on January 26, 2005, when he asked United States President George W. Bush a question that some in the press corps considered "so friendly it might have been planted." Gannon routinely obtained daily passes to White House briefings, attending four Bush press conferences and appearing regularly at White House press briefings. Although he did not qualify for a Congressional press pass, Gannon was given daily passes to White House press briefings "after supplying his real name, date of birth and Social Security number." Gannon came under public scrutiny for his lack of a journalistic background prior to his work with Talon and his involvement with various homosexual escort service websites using the professional name "Bulldog". Gannon resigned from Talon News on February 8, 2005. Continuing to use the name Gannon, he has since created his own official homepage and worked for a time as a columnist for the Washington Blade newspaper, where he confirmed he was gay after he was outed as a homosexual prostitute.
Q: Yes, I did, I wanted to use this opportunity to ask you a question directly from an Iranian. We solicited questions last night from people who are still courageous enough to be communicating online, and one of them wanted to ask you this: Under which conditions would you accept the election of Ahmadinejad? And if you do accept it without any significant changes in the conditions there, isn't that a betrayal of what the demonstrators there are working towards?
his question wasn't the story. the WH arrangements for him to ask his question was the story.
Since we're on Iran, I know Niko Pitney (ph) is here from the Huffington Post.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.
MR. OBAMA: Niko (ph), I know that you and all across the Internet, we've been seeing a lot of reports coming directly out of Iran. I know that there may actually be questions from people in Iran who are communicating through the Internet. Do you have a question?
QUESTION: Yes, I did, but I wanted to use this opportunity to ask you a question directly from an Iranian. We solicited questions on tonight from people who are still courageous enough to be communicating online. And one of them wanted to ask you this: Under which conditions would you accept the election of Ahmadinejad? And if you do accept it without any significant changes in the conditions there, isn't that a betrayal of -- of what the demonstrators there are working to achieve?
MR. OBAMA: Well, look, we didn't have international observers on the ground. We can't say definitively what exactly happened at polling places throughout the country.
What we know is that a sizable percentage of the Iranian people themselves, spanning Iranian society, consider this election illegitimate. It's not an isolated instance, a little grumbling here or there. There is significant questions about the legitimacy of the election.
And so, ultimately, the most important thing for the Iranian government to consider is legitimacy in the eyes of its own people, not in the eyes of the United States.
And that's why I've been very clear, ultimately, this is up to the Iranian people to decide who their leadership is going to be and the structure of their government.
What we can do is to say, unequivocally, that there are sets of international norms and principles about violence, about dealing with the peaceful dissent, that -- that spans cultures, spans borders.
And what we've been seeing over the Internet and what we've been seeing in news reports violates those norms and violates those principles.
I think it is not too late for the Iranian government to recognize that -- that there is a peaceful path that will lead to stability and legitimacy and prosperity for the Iranian people. We hope they take it.
Major Garrett? Where's Major?
QUESTION: Right here, sir.
In your opening remarks, sir, you said about Iran that you were appalled and outraged. What took you so long?
MR. OBAMA: I don't think that's accurate. Track what I've been saying. Right after the election I said that we had profound concerns about the nature of the election, but that it was not up to us to determine what the outcome was.
As soon as violence broke out -- in fact, in anticipation of potential violence -- we were very clear in saying that violence was unacceptable, that that was not how governments operate with respect to their people.
So we've been entirely consistent, Major, in terms of how we've approached this. My role has been to say the United States is not going to be a foil for the Iranian government to try to blame what's happening on the streets of Tehran on the CIA or on the White House, that this is an issue that is led by and given voice to the frustrations of the Iranian people.
And so we've been very consistent the first day, and we're going to continue to be consistent in saying this is not an issue about the United States, this is about an issue of the Iranian people.
What we've also been consistent about is saying that there are some universal principles, including freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, making sure that governments are not using coercion and violence and repression in terms of how they interact with peaceful demonstrators. And we have been speaking out very clearly about that fact.
MR. OBAMA: Chip?
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.
Following up on Major's question, some Republicans on Capitol Hill, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, for example, have said that up to this point your response on Iran has been timid and weak.
Today it sounded a lot stronger. It sounded like the kind of speech John McCain has been urging you to give, saying that those who stand up for justice are always on the right side of history, referring to an iron fist in Iran, deplore, appalled, outraged.
Were you influenced at all by John McCain and Lindsey Graham accusing you of being timid and weak?
MR. OBAMA: What do you think?
Look, the -- you know, I think John McCain has genuine passion about many of these international issues. And, you know, I think that all of us share a belief that we want justice to prevail.
But only I'm the president of the United States. And I've got responsibilities in making certain that we are continually advancing our national security interests and that we are not used as a tool to be exploited by other countries.
QUESTION: By speaking so strongly today, aren't you giving the leadership in Iran the fodder to make those arguments...
MR. OBAMA: You know...
QUESTION: ... that it is about the United States?
MR. OBAMA: Look, I mean, I think that we can parse this as much as we want. I think if you look at the statements that I've made, they've been very consistent. I just made a statement on Saturday in which we said we deplored the violence.
And so I think that in the hothouse of Washington, there may be all kinds of stuff going back and forth in terms of Republican critics versus the administration.
That's not what is relevant to the Iranian people. What's relevant to them right now is are they going to have their voices heard. And, you know, frankly, a lot of them aren't paying a lot of attention to what's being said on Capitol Hill and probably aren't spending a lot of time thinking about what's being said here.
They're trying to figure out how can they make sure justice is served in Iran.
QUESTION: Wouldn't that drive private insurance out of business?
MR. OBAMA: Why would it drive private insurance out of business? If -- if private -- if private insurers say that the marketplace provides the best quality health care; if they tell us that they're offering a good deal, then why is it that the government, which they say can't run anything, suddenly is going to drive them out of business? That's not logical.
Now, the -- I think that there's going to be some healthy debates in Congress about the shape that this takes. I think there can be some legitimate concerns on the part of private insurers that if any public plan is simply being subsidized by taxpayers endlessly that over time they can't compete with the government just printing money, so there are going to be some I think legitimate debates to be had about how this private plan takes shape.
But just conceptually, the notion that all these insurance companies who say they're giving consumers the best possible deal, if they can't compete against a public plan as one option, with consumers making the decision what's the best deal, that defies logic, which is why I think you've seen in the polling data overwhelming support for a public plan.
MR. OBAMA: Chuck Todd?
QUESTION: Mr. President, I want to follow up on Iran. You have avoided, twice, spelling out consequences. You've hinted that there would be from the international community, if they continue to violate -- and you said "violate these norms." You seemed to hint that there -- there are human rights violations taking place.
MR. OBAMA: I'm not hinting. I think that when a young woman gets shot on the street when she gets out of her car, that's a problem.
QUESTION: Then why won't you spell out the consequences that the Iranian people...
MR. OBAMA: Because I think that we don't know yet how this thing is going to play out. I know everybody here is on a 24-hour news cycle. I'm not. OK?
QUESTION: Shouldn't -- I mean, shouldn't the world...
MR. OBAMA: I answered -- I answered...
QUESTION: ... present regime know that there are consequences?
MR. OBAMA: I answered your question, which is that we don't yet know how this is going to play out. OK?