Economic Treason—Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky represents a state that is home to Toyota’s biggest plant outside of Japan. Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama represents a state that is home to Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee represents a state that is home to Nissan’s North American headquarters and a new Volkswagen plant in the works. The foreign automakers fled to anti-union Southern states to escape organized labor in their home countries. The Southern Republicans persuaded their Senate colleagues to back a non-negotiable demand that the United Autoworkers Union accept a date by which they would reduce their benefits to the level of autoworkers in foreign-owned plants in the South. The UAW was willing to reduce benefits and pay but would not have a date and terms imposed by Congress. So Senate Republicans killed the $14 billion Detroit bailout.
The Los Angeles Times acquired an internal Republican memo that described a second motive:
“This is the democrats first opportunity to payoff organized labor after the election. This is the precursor to card check and other items. Republicans should stand firm and take their first blow against organized labor, instead of taking their first blow from it… Again, the hardest thing for the democrats to do is get 60 votes. If we can hold the Republicans, we can beat this.”
Organized labor invested in Democratic Senate candidates and Republican senators got even, ignoring collateral damage to workers, shareholders, and the stock market.
Intelligence Failure?—In an attempt to burnish his legacy George W. Bush has turned to Iraq. Bush told ABC News that the greatest regret of his presidency is “the intelligence failure in Iraq.” Bush’s answer was an intelligence failure in its own right. In the run-up to the war his vice president visited CIA headquarters at least thirteen times to examine and shape intelligence. Presidents and vice presidents go to Langley, Va., to make speeches. Cheney’s involvement was unprecedented. Cheney also fired two of his personal CIA briefers when they failed to provide intelligence he needed to justify the Iraq War—also unprecedented.
When the CIA described as “fraudulent” documents that claimed that Saddam Hussein purchased uranium from Niger, French intelligence took a second look. France’s intelligence director Alain Chouet said, “We told the Americans, ‘Bullshit, it doesn’t make any sense.'” International Atomic Energy Agency inspector Jacques Baute only needed to do a Google search to determine that the documents were bogus.
Secretary of State Colin Powell later described the briefing document the White House provided him for his February 2003 U.N. Security Council speech as “bullshit.” When he refused to use it, he was handed a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) filled with equally flawed intelligence. Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell’s aide, told me that he concluded the briefing book was a setup, intended to be discarded so that Powell would accept the less outrageous NIE.
Ten days before the U.S. attacked Iraq, International Atomic Energy Agency director Mohamed El Baradei, whose inspectors were on the ground in Iraq, reported that there was no evidence that Iraq had a nuclear weapons program.
“I think El Baradei, frankly, is wrong,” Cheney told NBC’s Tim Russert the day before the war began.
Liars’ Club—Alaska Governor Sarah Palin also is trying to rewrite her political bio. Palin told Fox News that media reports about her attempts to censor books in the Wasilla Public Library were wrong. Palin singled out a blogger. “It was reported that I tried to ban Harry Potter when it hadn’t even been written when I was the mayor,” Palin said.
The blogger got it wrong. “The media” got it right. Palin did try to censor books. The local Wa-Mu Frontiersman reported that Palin asked the Wasilla librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, “if she would object to censorship.” Palin did not challenge the Frontiersman story at the time.
As a City Council member Palin had complained that Daddy’s Roommate, intended to help children understand homosexuality, didn’t belong in Wasilla’s public library.
Emmons is now a state employee and will not talk to reporters. I interviewed two sources in Wasilla who worked with Emmons. Both said Emmons understood that the mayor wanted to remove some books from the library. Both said Emmons knew that mayor-elect Palin was preparing to dismiss all city department heads. The librarian was a department head. Palin didn’t fire her. She cut the budget, and Emmons moved on.