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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Wednesday, 1 September 2004

Topic: Election Notes

Well, it could be true... you just never know.

Oh, it's been all over the political pages, so it deserves mention.

Basics - should something happen to the President, then to the Vice President, the next in line to run the whole show is the Speaker of the House of Representatives. You could look it up in the constitution. That go-to guy at present would be Representative J. Dennis 'Denny' Hastert, Republican of Illinois, graduate of Wheaton College (fundamentalist Christian) and a former high school coach at Yorkville High School (1964-1980). His basic bio is here - he's been in the House since 1986 and speaker since 1999. Between the teaching gig and the US House, he spent four years in the Illinois House of Representatives. He's been around.

His voting record by issues is here.

But no one much pays attention to him. And one assumes he got tired of that.

So on Fox News Sunday he made some waves. He decided to raise some questions about George Soros, the Democratic Party financier and donor to anti-Bush 527 ads and a major financial backer of - to float an idea about this Soros, the billionaire financier. Chris Wallace was the interviewer and wanted Hastert to say something about and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and all these groups airing attack ads not directly tied to each candidate.

Here's the key part of the exchange -
HASTERT: Here in this campaign, quote, unquote, "reform," you take party power away from the party, you take the philosophical ideas away from the party, and give them to these independent groups.

You know, I don't know where George Soros gets his money. I don't know where--if it comes overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from. And I--

WALLACE (interrupting): Excuse me?

HASTERT: Well, that's what he's been for a number years--George Soros has been for legalizing drugs in this country. So, I mean, he's got a lot of ancillary interests out there.

WALLACE: You think he may be getting money from the drug cartel?

HASTERT: I'm saying I don't know where groups--could be people who support this type of thing. I'm saying we don't know. The fact is we don't know where this money comes from.
Before, transparency--and what we're talking about in transparency in election reform is you know where the money comes from. You get a $25 check or a $2,500 check or $25,000 check, put it up on the Internet. You know where it comes from, and there it is.
Ah, now we see, Soros is an international drug dealer, and that's where those who oppose George Bush get the funds to oppose him.

Note he doesn't say this is true. He says he just doesn't know. Makes you think, doesn't it?

Jack Shafer points out here -
Soros runs the Quantum Fund hedge fund and earned a reported one billion dollars in 1992 betting against the British pound. According to the Christian Science Monitor, he's dropped five billion of his fortune on his various "open society" programs around the world. He's given $12.6 million to the anti-Bush 527s, chump change relative to the size of his fortune. In addition, Soros has been a very public advocate and funder of drug-law legalization and liberalization campaigns.
Ah, the last part is the kicker, a lever Hastert can use.

Soros is ticked. And here (PDF format) the letter he sent Hastert on the 31st demanding an apology, and a retraction.

Hastert fires back a letter here saying he never referred to drug cartels on Fox News Sunday, that Chris Wallace did. Technically correct of course, as Wallace did ask whether Hastert was saying Soros made his money from dug cartels, and Hastert only say, well, he just didn't know for sure.

Actionable? Slander?

Hypothetical - If I say I heard you like to rape and murder Girl Scouts, and since there is no evidence you haven't raped and murdered Girl Scouts, well I can say I just don't know if it is true or not. And I haven't said anything slanderous. I just said I don't know.


Hastert's letter does list initiatives to decriminalize illegal drug use to which Soros has contributed. The bugs him. But Soros is giving these groups money. He's funding them, not the other way around.

Oh well. Drugs is drugs. And Hastert too doesn't do nuance.

Jack Shafer points out his theory of where Hastert got the whole idea, and it is amusing -
Where did Hastert get the notion that Soros might be getting money from drug cartels? A good guess would be the organization headed by political fantasist, convicted felon, and perpetual presidential candidate Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. This campaign literature from the "LaRouche in 2004" Web site, dated Oct. 29, 2003, makes the drug charge directly:

Years of investigation by LaRouche's associates have answered that question in grisly detail: Soros's money comes from impoverishment of the poor countries against whose currencies he speculates, and from deadly mind-destroying, terrorism-funding drugs.

The LaRouchie slander of Soros dates back to the early '90s. Michael Lewis recorded an anti-Soros protest by LaRouche followers in a Jan. 10, 1994, profile in the New Republic. Since then, the drug charge has been a LaRouche literature mainstay. See, for example, this cached copy of a 2002 interview with LaRouche from his organization's Executive Intelligence Review.

Hastert may have also brushed up against the idea in a 1997 House hearing about needle exchanges that he chaired. David Jordan, the former U.S. ambassador to Peru, testified that Soros has backed drug legalization initiatives and owns a piece of a bank in Colombia. Connecting the imaginary dots, Jordan says, "And I think it would be very interesting for you to look to see and bring sometime [sic] who benefits from the legalization of narcotics."
Ah, not saying it's so, but it could be so?

Note - the Just Above Sunset background item on Lyndon LaRouche is this - January 11, 2004 Odds and Ends: "Religious cults, like fringe candidates, are never quite as much fun as you'd imagine. Lyndon LaRouche, Scientology... whatever."

But Shafer's catch - this connection to Lyndon LaRouche - is a minor issue.

What is most interesting is the dynamic here - attack by raising an outrageous allegation and say you just don't know if it is true or not. Stay safe, legally. But get the message out. And the damage is done.

Works every time.

Posted by Alan at 21:01 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, 2 September 2004 09:33 PDT home

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