Archive for December 9th, 2011
By Stephen C. Webster
Newt Gingrich, who suddenly finds himself near the front of the ever-shifting GOP pack, is also finding that his finances are yet again in the cross-hairs.
Multiple outlets are reporting that financial woes within the campaign means they’re skipping contests in key states and foregoing traditional campaign stops, even as Gingrich is taking early repayments of personal loans to the campaign. Meanwhile, long-time creditors fret about when they’ll get paid.
In the key swing states of Missouri and Ohio, which President Barack Obama won in 2008, the Gingrich campaign has lagged behind other candidates in filing key paperwork. Just this week he nearly missed the filing deadline for Ohio, but ultimately succeeded in posting most of the required paperwork at the zero-hour. Similarly, he skipped filing in Missouri due to the cost — a mere $1,000 — simply because the Missouri GOP primary isn’t the most important selection process for the state party.
In addition, prior reports indicated that the campaign did not have cash on hand for the $25,000 Ames Straw Poll filing fee, or $30,000 for a list of previous Iowa caucus attendees. Meanwhile, Gingrich had his own campaign pay him a $125,000 reimbursement for travel expenses and a mailing list that he could have simply donated.
He repaid himself even as he’s being hounded by his creditors, who are owed over $1.2 million in long-term debts. The campaign says they’re beginning to pay those down, too. By contrast, former Mass. Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign has carried no debts, opting to pay out of pocket right away.
Scrutiny of Gingrich’s finances began earlier this year, after reports surfaced that he had an unpaid $500,000 line of credit with jewelry company Tiffany’s. Facing the ever-growing mountain of campaign debts and reports that the candidate was on a Mediterranean cruise, 18 members of team Gingrich — including his top finance aides — quit en masse. After all, for months he wasspending $3 for every $2 raised, according to reports.
For Gingrich, this type of fiscal mismanagement appears to be a pattern stretching back years.
Gingrich’s personal finances have reportedly been in various states of disarray for decades — a love for costly private air travel and expensive jewelry barely even scratches the surface.
A profile in Esquire last year described how Gingrich let his wife Marianne take over management of his personal budget, because he found it “too stressful.”
Similarly, a profile of the former Speakerpublished by Vanity Fair in 1995 noted that his first wife, Jackie, was also in charge of his personal finances. Even then, the couple took 13 years to pay off their debts, and once they divorced, she had to sue Gingrich to get him paying alimony. Testimony in hearings on the case ultimately shed even more light on his liberal personal spending, even as his first ex-wife was struggling to keep her home’s utilities turned on.
But it’s not just stress in running budgets or refusing to pay his debts: it’s also his apparent ignorance of financial matters in general that will likely have conservatives doing a double-take.
As Speaker, Gingrich was fined $300,000 by the House for an ethics violation after he was caught using tax deductible groups to finance and support his political agenda. The scheme ultimately helped Republicans wrestle control of the House back to their side during the Clinton administration.
During the investigation, Gingrich reportedly lied to the ethics committee about using tax-exempt, ostensibly non-partisan organizations to further Republican causes — although he was not alone in committing these violations. Donors to these groups were simultaneously supporting their favored Republican causes and gaining a tax rebate, which is patently illegal.
Gingrich ultimately admitted that some of his statements to the committee were “inaccurate,” insisting his real crime was ignorance and that he simply had not consulted a lawyer about the tax code.
If the former House Speaker manages to secure the Republican nomination to challenge Obama in next year’s election, Democrats are guaranteed to have a field day with his long history of ethical scrapes, underhanded dealings, repeated infidelity and record of saying, well, pretty dumb things.
But it’s a long way until August, and Gingrich’s long-term lack of fiscal discipline could be the inroad — or Christmas present — Romney is looking for, especially when the GOP is singing the praises of financial austerity and fiscal discipline.
© 2011, agentleman.
The Last Herman Cain Column by Gail Collins
“Me, a womanizer? I would never have thought they’d come up with that one,” Cain wrote to his supporters this week in an essay promising to — yes! — keep talking.
Where do you think he’ll pop up next? As the newest Fox commentator? On “Dancing With the Stars?” As Donald Trump’s guest judge on “Celebrity Apprentice?” As a contestant on “Celebrity Apprentice?”
We’ll know all too soon. The only part of his last chapter that remains sort of fascinating is Ginger White, the accuser who has been given credit in some corners for bringing the Cain campaign down. All things considered, that couldn’t have been much of a strain. (“Rumors of Extramarital Affair End Campaign of Presidential Candidate Who Didn’t Know China Has Nuclear Weapons,” read a headline in The Onion.)
But about Ginger. White has been on an interview tour, telling a story that gets increasingly dismal as she goes along. “It wasn’t a love affair. It was a sexual affair, as hard as that is for me to say and as hard as it is for people to hear it,” she told Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC.
By the time she got to The Daily Beast, White was confiding that “one time we were having sex and I was looking up at the ceiling, thinking about, ‘What am I going to buy at the grocery store tomorrow?’ ”
Until now, I always thought the most depressing story of love with a married political celebrity was that of Kay Summersby, who was Dwight Eisenhower’s chauffeur during World War II. She published a memoir that I have always believed — just as I believe Ginger White’s interviews — because nobody would want to make up something so bleak. Summersby said that she had, indeed, fallen for Ike, who made declarations of love in return but was unable to consummate the affair. After the war, perhaps hoping to give it another try, he promised to bring her back to the United States. Then he broke off the relationship in a letter dictated to his secretary, with a personal note written on the bottom that said: “Take care of yourself and retain your optimism.”
Now if that isn’t enough to quench the embers of political passion I don’t know what is. Unless it’s White’s description of asking Cain for more financial support and having him demand that she sell the freeloading family dog first.
As she’s expanded on her story over and over again, White has made it clear that she’s spent much of her adult life trading sex for financial support, all the while denying that she is “a woman who sleeps with men for money.” The mystery is why in the world she went public given that she has kids to protect and a completely unflattering saga to tell.
White claimed that she knew it all would come out anyway, and “I wanted to give my side of the story.” This makes no sense because 1) her side of the story is so awful, and 2) the media seldom go after stories of consensual sex unless one of the participants holds a press conference. This is particularly true in the case of candidates who no one believes will ever get elected anyway, a category in which Herman Cain has always been Exhibit A.
Until now, the champion terrible explanation for going public was Gennifer Flowers’s contention that she was disclosing her long-term affair with Bill Clinton because he was “denying our love.” These days, according to her Web site, Flowers is a motivational speaker whose “two favorite speech topics are: ‘Surviving Sex, Power and Propaganda,’ and ‘The M Years … Surviving Menopause Mania!’ ”
As you can see, these things almost never end really well for the women. And they generally work out fine for the men. Cain is headed just where he always was meant to be headed, except now he will be able to charge much higher speaking fees. And he’s been replaced as the Tea Party’s darling by Newt Gingrich. Never has the voting public’s lack of concern for a politician’s private behavior been more crystal clear.
Given these facts of life, it’s hard for an aggrieved former lover to even get basic revenge. One of the few ex-political mistresses I can think of who actually did get lasting retribution was Anna Bradley, the mistress of Senator Arthur Brown of Utah, who in 1906 discovered that Brown was sleeping with an actress and shot him to death.
Let me emphasize that this is definitely not a strategy I am recommending.
It turned out that Brown had an ex-wife who had also tried to shoot him for infidelity and an overall back story so unsympathetic that restaurants offered to cater Bradley’s jailhouse meals. The Times, looking for something nice to say about Brown, noted that he was “known to be intensely loyal to his male friends.”
© 2011, agentleman.
Retired NBC Nightly News Producer: ‘Republicans Are the Greatest Threat to America’
Ever since the covert Muslim/Maoist/Socialist assumed the presidency in January of 2009, the GOP, still livid over their war hero candidate losing to a black guy named Barack, decided that it wasn’t going to work with the president in solving the herculean mess of problems created by the outgoing Bush Administration. Rather, the GOP and its propagandist minions chose to kick, scream, cry, and stomp in an unprecedented show of petty partisanship and obstructionism. Party strategy, bad spelling rednecks in crazy costumes, and special interests were (still) put above working with the President in combating America’s debilitating ails. Unless all you watch is Fox News, it’s painfully obvious that the Republican party has devolved into an unrecognizable screaming mass of unmedicated (migraines don’t count) insanity and grotesque greed.
Former NBC Nightly News producer and freelance writer, Sandy Goodman, also agrees that the Republican party lost its footing a long time ago and cares only about party dominance.
Sandy Goodman writes:
The single greatest threat to the United States is not joblessness, foreclosures, another recession or skyrocketing debt or health care costs. Nor is it terrorism, China or declining influence abroad. No, the single greatest threat to our country is today’s Republican Party. That’s because the GOP is relentlessly pursuing a policy of the American public be damned, so that next year Republicans can regain the national political dominance they held from 2001 to 2006. Their sole, selfish aim is to complete the transformation of the U.S. to a government of, by and for the rich and the far-right.
Indeed, the Republican party used a record number of filibusters to stymie economic and social progress. When the so-called ‘job creators’ aren’t blocking jobs, infrastructure, and environmental bills that are proven to better the lives of unemployed Americans, they have used their power in the House to push their radical and outdated religious fundamentalist agendas by attacking and defunding Planned Parenthood and redefining rape.
It seems legendary Newsweek reporter, Robert Parry, picked up where Goodman left off and wonderfully encapsulated the true Republican agenda:
Modern Republicans have a simple approach to politics when they are not in the White House: Make America as ungovernable as possible by using any means available… Control as much as possible what the population gets to see and hear; create chaos for your opponent’s government, economically and politically; blame it for the mess; and establish in the minds of the voters that their only way out is to submit, that the pain will stop once your side is back in power…
Republicans and the Right… are well positioned to roll the U.S. economy off the cliff and blame the catastrophe on Obama. Indeed, that may be their best hope for winning Election 2012.
The Republican party started its destruction of America under the Bush Admin. with two unfunded wars (one a total farce); approval of torture, warrantless wiretapping and ineptitude and indifference in the face of Hurricane Katrina; millionaire tax cuts that created about as many jobs as Burger King creates Olympiads and increased the national debt by 75 percent; and excessive profligacy and discretionary spending like an NFL player in a strip club created what the Washington Post dubbed “executive grandeur” made income inequality the worst since the 1930s Depression.
“When national revulsion against Republican misrule drove Democrats into power in 2008, the GOP resorted to today’s strategy. It became evident even before the new Democratic president took office when the Republican Party’s de facto leader, Rush Limbaugh, declared: “I hope Obama fails.” And since the inauguration, Republicans have done everything in their power to assure that failure, although it’s meant misery for millions of Americans,”wrote Goodman in his Huff Po piece.
Like a gangsta rapper, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell seems to relish in his party’s complete and utter hatred of democrats and the president when he audaciously said “”I wish we had been able to obstruct more“. Yep, that pretty much sums up the mentality of today’s Republican party and why Goodman calls them the “greatest threat to America”.
Michael is a comedian/VO artist/Columnist extraordinaire, who co-wrote an award-nominated comedy, wrote for NY Times Laugh Lines, guest-blogged for Joe Biden, and writes a column for MSNBC.com affiliated Cagle. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Seriously, follow him or he’ll send you a photo of Rush Limbaugh bending over in a thong.
© 2011, agentleman.