Pay No Attention To That Man Behind The Curtain


NEW YORK TIMES: Someday someone will write a dark history — a farce, really — of how [Grover Norquist] managed to bring nearly all of the Republican Party to heel, compelling legislator upon legislator to lash themselves to his no-new-taxes pledge. Until then we’ll have to content ourselves with his misfortune over the last few days. No sooner had a nation digested its turkey than his goose began to be cooked. The spreading rebellion in the Republican ranks was manifest on the post-Thanksgiving Sunday talk shows. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina dissed Norquist on ABC’s “This Week,” saying that “when you’re $16 trillion in debt, the only pledge we should be making to each other is to avoid becoming Greece.” On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Representative Peter King of New York also stressed that the country’s current fiscal woes trumped vows made in less debt-ridden times, and over on “Fox News Sunday,” Senator John McCain signaled a receptiveness to new revenue, another dagger to Norquist’s dark heart. All three Republican lawmakers were echoing previous comments of their own and of a small but significant cluster of colleagues, whose numbers continued to grow on Monday, when Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, appearing on CBS’s “This Morning,” pronounced himself “not obligated on the pledge.” It’s as if some spell has at long last been broken, and the formerly bewitched villagers are rising up to defy their evil overlord and insist on the possibility of life and even mirth without a deduction for corporate jets. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: Remember Jack Abramoff, the Republican lobbying cheat who’s now behind bars? Well, jolly old Grove was his chief pigeon hunter Grover_Noquist_by_DONKEY_HOTEY.jpgand money launderer. All things illegal and illicit considered, however, such mischief was mere training wheels for the trip to his most prized position: Most Powerful Republican In America. First, a little background. In 1985, at Ronald Reagan’s behest, Norquist formed a soon to become altogether odious organization dubbed Americans for Tax Reform with the clear-cut goal of eradicating taxes from the face of the land. He later closely allied himself and the ATR with the Koch brothers and their chief corporate corruption arm, the American Legislative Exchange Council. Although there is much to disparage about Mr. Norquist, his main claim to ignominy stems from a dandy little under-publicized shakedown scheme he dreamed up. Using the barely-veiled threat of withdrawal (or transfer to a challenger) of key campaign financial support, he has managed to coerce practically every Republican politician on the planet into signing what’s called the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. It states that those whose signatures appear thereon swear to never ever initiate or acquiesce in the imposition of new taxes–under any circumstances, for any purpose whatsoever. And he unabashedly holds the signed copy(s) in his safe as ransom should any of the kowtowers exhibit so much as a bend or a buckle in their avowed intransigence towards raising revenue to close budget deficit gaps and shrink the runaway national debt. Most of us common folk call it blackmail. MORE

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