In his first year in Washington, Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) has distinguished himself by suggesting that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States and arguing that an unprecedented default would be good for the global economy because "the creditors that we owe money to around the world would say, 'You know what, they're getting their house in order.'" (Eds. note: They wouldn't say that.) Now he has a new plan: Impeach Attorney General Eric Holder over the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives' disastrous Fast and Furious "gun-walking" program. Holder has already been formally censured by the House, but according to Yoho, a group of Republican congressmen wants to take the next step. If he and his allies were to succeed—and they won't—it would make it the the second time in US history that a cabinet member was impeached, and the first since 1876. Per Politico:
"It's to get him out of office — impeachment," Yoho said, according to the Gainesville Sun, adding "it will probably be when we get back in [Washington]. It will be before the end of the year. This will go to the speaker and the speaker will decide if it comes up or not."
Yoho cited frustration over the botched "Fast and Furious" program - in which federal agents allowed guns to "walk" to Mexican drug cartels as part of an investigation - as one of the main motivations for the impeachment push. That sting operation failed, and weapons tied to the Fast and Furious program were found at the shooting scene when a Border Patrol agent was killed in Dec. 2010.
In retrospect, maybe the sodomy part was a mistake. Republican Ken Cuccinelli goes into today's gubernatorial election in Virginia expected to lose to Democrat Terry McAullife, a man who almost missed the birth of a child to attend a fundraiser and once downed shots of Puerto Rican rum on morning television. The Most Quoted Man in Washington, University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato, has summed up the election as two people "running against the only people they could beat"—and Cuccinelli, well, couldn't.
Why? There were a lot of contributing factors: McAuliffe outspent Cuccinelli by about $14 million, living up to his reputation as a relentless fundraiser. Cuccinelli's swan dive coincided with the government shutdown in October, which was especially painful to Virginians. A third-party candidate, Robert Sarvis, took up a protest vote that might otherwise have gone to Cuccinelli. And both Cuccinelli and sitting GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell were tied to a slow-burning political influence scandal.
But perhaps the simplest explanation for Cuccinelli's struggles is that Virginians found him and his running mate, E.W. Jackson, to be uniquely unlikable politicians fixated on uniquely unappealing issues.
Update: Former state Sen. Bradley Byrne narrowly defeated Dean Young on Tuesday night to win the Republican nomination for Alabama's special election, all but guaranteeing him a spot in Congress. The outcome is being hailed as a win for Republican establishment, which poured significant resources into Byrne's campaign against the tea partier Young. But as I explained on Monday, there's little daylight between the two camps when it comes to policy. Even in a loss, the tea party won big.
It would be tough to find a political office-seeker less prepared for the job he's running for than Alabama congressional candidate Dean Young. Asked by the Guardian last week to identify the current House majority whip, the Republican suggested House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who left his old post almost three years ago. Quizzed on the current treasury secretary, Young identified Henry Paulson (who left four years ago) and then Tim Geithner (who left his post 10 months ago). Young, who also called President Obama's country of origin "the $64,000 question," didn't go so far as to suggest that the Gettysburg Address is where Lincoln lived, but that's probably because no one asked.
On Tuesday, Young will face off against former state Sen. Bradley Byrne in a runoff for the Republican nomination in the special election to replace former GOP Rep. Jo Bonner, who resigned to take a job at the University of Alabama. (In March, Mother Jonesreported that Bonner had gone on an all-expenses-paid African safari under the auspices of investigating Al Qaeda's ties to poaching.) In a deep-red district, the runoff winner is all but assured a spot in Congress—which means that Young, who held a narrow lead in the final poll of the race, could soon be headed to Washington.
Anticipation is rising on a night in early August as about 300 starry-eyed libertarians gather at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia, for a lesson on how to save the Republican Party, the Constitution, and maybe America. The hero they've come to see is Justin Amash, a 33-year-old Michigan congressman who has spent the previous two months crusading against National Security Agency surveillance. The GOP gadfly is joined by three other congressional newcomers who serve as Amash's ideological sidekicks. As the crowd jumps to its feet to greet Amash, one young activist can't contain himself: "I'm on a first-name basis with the man who wants to save the Fourth Amendment!"
Just one week earlier, Amash had brought the House of Representatives to a standstill with a measure that would have prohibited the NSA from indiscriminately collecting Americans' phone and internet data. Leaders in both parties opposed his amendment, but Amash had sensed an opportunity to capitalize on strong bipartisan disgust over the surveillance scandal. In just a few days he'd cobbled together 205 votes split almost evenly between Republicans and Democrats—and might even have seen his measure pass had House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the White House not applied last-minute pressure to stop it.
Amash and his colleagues are greeted as liberators at the Young Americans for Liberty Convention, one of the dozens of initiatives spawned by the 2008 presidential campaign of Texas Rep. Ron Paul. Every so often the crowd of twentysomethings breaks into chants of "End the Fed," or into a chorus of boos at the mention of establishment figures like Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, whose existence Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina invokes the way a Hogwarts first-year might hint at Lord Voldemort.
The event has the feel of a fraternity reunion. At one point, Mulvaney takes an "End the Fed" trucker hat from an audience member and places it atop the curls of his colleague Thomas Massie, a Tesla-driving mechanical engineer who last year came out of nowhere to win one of Kentucky's congressional seats. Rep. Raúl Labrador of Idaho finishes the night with a winding joke about Amash's support for legalizing prostitution. And like any good brotherhood, they even have an initiation ritual: As the forum ends, Amash walks over to Mulvaney to recognize him formally with a custom red-and-gold "liberty pin" reserved for his closest allies in the House. A voice cuts through the din as they exit the stage: "We love you, Justin!"
After a decade of aggressive expansion of the national security state, Amash, a Star Trek-tweeting, Justin Bieber-quoting amateur arborist from Grand Rapids, has emerged as an unlikely leader of the most serious rebellion against unchecked surveillance powers since 9/11. He's also become a driving force in the fight for the future of the libertarian movement long led by the retired Paul—and perhaps even for the soul of the deeply fractured GOP.
In October, I reported that Mississippi GOP senate candidate Chris McDaniel had delivered speeches to the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, including during a conference the neo-Confederate group held in August. When I contacted McDaniel's campaign for the story, a spokesman said: "Senator McDaniel has driven across Mississippi to speak to many groups over the past decade." He did not dispute that McDaniel had attended the August gathering. A spokesman for the SCV chapter also told me that McDaniel had attended the August event as well as an earlier event, but now McDaniel is saying he wasn't at the August gathering. He told the Clarion-Ledger that although he had been scheduled to speak at the event, but missed it because he was in Chicago for a conference for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). An SCV member backed him up:
"He wasn't at this last one," said [SCV spokesman George Jaynes]. "He missed a flight coming out of Chicago … A guy from Mother Jones news, which I had never heard of, called me the other night and was asking questions. Maybe I didn't explain myself well. Maybe this guy misunderstood me. But (McDaniel) wasn't there."
The Southern Heritage Conference was Aug. 9-10. The ALEC conference in Chicago was Aug. 7-9. McDaniel said he recollects he stayed over at least a day after the ALEC event, and was still out of state when the Rosin Heels event was held.
McDaniel also alleges that Mother Jones "doctored" a photo to falsely depict him speaking to the event; the image was identified in the story as a photoshop.
Though McDaniel might have missed the conference because of airline issues, he did deliver the keynote address at an event the group held on June 22 in Jackson. Jaynes confirmed to the Clarion-Ledger that McDaniel had indeed spoken to the group in previous years (which Jaynes also told me). So whether or not McDaniel made it to the August conference, there is no question he's been a friend to this particular group.