Hastert Update


Dennis Hastert has responded to the charge that he smeared George Soros by suggesting he was on the take from drug cartels. From his letter to Soros:

…you have funded organizations such as The Drug Policy Foundation, The Open Society, The Lendesmith [sic] Center, the Andean Council of Coca Leaf Producers, and several ballot initiatives across the country to decriminalize illegal drug use. Promoting drug use, in my view, will lead to more lives lost and more tragedy for our children. I think this approach is simply wrong.

These were the drug groups that I referred to in my comments on the Fox News Sunday program. Chris Wallace said, "drug cartels." I did not.

Let's review the transcript:

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.

It is indeed Wallace who introduced the phrase "drug cartel." But Hastert does not reply, "No, that's not what I meant." He says "we don't know."

That's not the only thing that's disingenuous about Hastert's letter. As Jack Shafer notes in Slate, the "drug groups" Hastert cites "are beneficiaries of Soros wealth: He's given them money. In the program transcript, Hastert is clearly asking about the source of Soros' money for his political and social campaigns, and then he asks the leading question, is it from 'overseas or from drug groups'?"

Shafer adds that the Speaker isn't the first person to accuse Soros of being a narcotics kingpin. Apparently, the charge has been drifting around LaRoucheville for years.

[Thanks to reader Adam Scavone for the tip.]

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  1. Also bogus is the idea that advocvating legalization amounts to promoting drug use.

  2. Let’s coin a word: laRouche (v.)…to smear someone because you are clueless. “Hastert larouched Soros.”

  3. slate thinks it has it figured out, but they don’t. soros wants to legalize drugs so he can SAVE MONEY from all those donations to drug legalization groups.

    it’s really quite simple if you look at it objectively.

  4. Yeah, decriminalize = promote is an interesting little spin on reality. But what more can we expect from someone who may or may not at this very minute be breathlessly reciting Bible verses while being shat upon by his 97-year-old dominatrix? My point is, we just don’t know.

  5. We need to come up with a name for this rhetorical trick where you make some crazy insinuation, then say “we just don’t know”. It could be true. It’s not impossible. We just don’t know.

    Maybe this trick has a name, and I just don’t know.

  6. “Promoting drug use, in my view, will lead to more lives lost and more tragedy for our children.”

    Zing! Pow! Hands down! We have been way too hard on this guy. He obviously cares very much for our vulnerable, sweet, innocent children. He doesn’t need to weigh down his arguments with “facts” and “evidence”. The brilliance of his virtue wins the day.

  7. dude,
    Its name could be redundant insinuation. I just don’t know either.

  8. He’s a former Marxist who’s now basically a fascist.

  9. LaRouche is just plain nuts. I’ve heard people describe him as far left or far right. I’ve looked at some of his stuff once or twice and I suppose you can excerpt something to paint him as one or the other, but if you look at the big picture it’s pretty clear that he’s simply insane.

  10. “Promoting drug use, in my view, will lead to more lives lost and more tragedy for our children.”

    What’s the best estimate of the number of parents who are in prison on drug charges?

  11. Todd: I thought about mentioning that as well, but held back because I thought it possible that — in some sense, in some portion of its activities — the Andean Council of Coca Leaf Producers “promotes” the use of coca.

  12. Most irritating about LaRouche is his name starts with “L.”
    I’m so thankful Ann Archy is not such a publicity hound.

  13. Maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough, but has nobody mentioned the fact that if he was being funded by drug cartels that they would probably not be too happy with him using their money to promote legalization?

  14. We need to come up with a name for this rhetorical trick where you make some crazy insinuation, then say “we just don’t know”. It could be true. It’s not impossible. We just don’t know.

    Maybe this trick has a name, and I just don’t know.

    Cicero did that shit all the time, but I don’t remember a name for it.

  15. “Maybe this trick has a name, and I just don’t know.”

    I had a co-worker who would say something like, “I am not saying that …blah, (fill in the blank) …; just saying, know what I mean?”

    But I don’t think he used this trick with malice like Hastert! (he was a black man, so it might have been an Ebonics type thing)

  16. Maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough, but has nobody mentioned the fact that if he was being funded by drug cartels that they would probably not be too happy with him using their money to promote legalization?

    I’m pretty sure Jesse made that point in an earlier post. I don’t put much stock in it myself, though. Most drug dealers that I’m aware of do not have degrees in economics.

  17. Xrlq: Street dealers might not. But I think the people who run the cartels are pretty canny businessmen, and have a sense of what’s good or bad for their bottom line.

  18. Josh said: “Cicero did that shit all the time, but I don’t remember a name for it.”

    Are you saying Dubya’s as smart as Cicero?
    ‘Cause he’s been reduntanly insinuating Saddam had something to do with 9-11, and many have come to believe it.

  19. The story’s over. This is just another thing to flatter Soros’s big ego.

  20. xlrq-

    If drug dealers really thought that drug legalization would benefit their business then the legalization movement would be MUCH better funded. Yeah, I know, they have Soros and a few other rich guys. But if enough drug dealers wanted to they could (collectively) dwarf Soros’ contributions.

  21. Joining the convo late but…come on. I saw/heard this show & thought Wallace was doing an impression of Dan Rather. Ya’ll are reading WAY too much in to this…but, maybe that’s what ya’ll want to do

  22. “Cicero did that shit all the time, but I don’t remember a name for it.”

    I think you’re referring to Cicero’s roasting of Clodia. He “accidentally” referred to her brother as her husband, etc.; it was rumored that they had an incestuous affair.

    I’d feel sorry for her if I hadn’t heard Catullus’ side of the story. “uale puella, iam Catullus obdurat

    I don’t recall having heard a name for the tactic either. Perhaps there isn’t one. I would suggest we name it “Pro Caelio“, the name of the speech in which the attack is made, but there is already so much terminology associated with the Cataline Conspiracy that the meaning of the reference could be easily confused. So I nominate the word ?clodian?.

    A rebuke would be stated much like the rebuke to an ad hominen attack, as in, “Hassert’s clodian attack?? or, ?LaRouche?s attack was completely clodian.?

  23. I don’t think it should be illegal to wear Member’s Only jackets to the opera. Does that mean I am promoting such behavior?

    And before you think my suggestion is benign, ask yourself “What of the children?”

  24. You’re saying that Hastert must have meant “drug cartels” when he said “drug groups,” because Soros gives money to the drug legalization groups, not the other way around. In other words, it wouldn’t make sense if Hastert was referring to drug legalization groups.

    On the other hand, it doesn’t make sense to be referring to drug cartels, either. Anyone with half a brain (perhaps less) would recognize that the drug cartels are OPPOSED to drug legalization; prohibition drives up the price of their product.

    So it’s obvious that Hastert was saying something stupid, either way. What’s not obvious is that he was saying something malicious. Perhaps he was, perhaps he wasn’t. The fact that he didn’t deny the inference that Chris Wallace drew (that he was referring to drug cartels) doesn’t impress me as significant; Hastert’s probably just not that fast on his feet.


  25. JW: you may be right about kingpins generally. Obviously, that’s where the big money would have to come from, not from low-level street dealers. Even at the higheset levels, though, I have to think that at least some kingpins think prohibition hurts their business more than it helps. If for no other reason, then because the “hurt” part of the equation is so much more obvious and immediate than the “help.” You can’t be in that business and not be constantly reminded of the downside – cops everywhere, informants, etc., all just waiting for the perfect opportunity to throw you, or at least your employee of the month, in the pen. You can, however, forget that all these risks are the price you have to pay to maintain the inflated profit margins that lured you into the business to begin with.

    For Hastert’s story to be plausible (in the sense that it could happen, not that there’s any evidence it did), it’s not necessary for every drug lord to support legalization. All it takes is one illicit, heavily-loaded “CEO” who miscalculates his own political self-interest as badly as some (though again, not most) above-board CEOs do.

  26. LaRouche is also from Marblehead, MA on the southshore of Boston.

  27. Let’s clear up the misconception about the drug kingpins or mid-level traffickers or even street dealers having any remote desire for drugs to become legal.

    When drugs become legal, a substance whose intrinsic value is about 1 penny per gram will have its current exhorbitant price point immediately slashed by several orders of magnitude. The entire system which used to support that commerce will very quickly dissipate into mist. Each and every person involved in the trade will see that income similarly vanish, and will have to go out and obtain gainful employment. So no, they don’t want the drugs legal.

    Oh, and let’s not forget about all the the police officers, judges, prosecutors, employees of the DEA, FBI Narcotics Unit, local state and city drug task forces, lawyers and paralegals, prison guards and prison food service workers, prison construction workers and other workers of incarceration-related industries, many of the emergency room doctors and nurses, as well as indoor horticulture supply companies, marijuana seed companies, clean urine industries, drug reform lobbyists and speakers, members of public policy institutes dealing with legalization, all of whom will have a lot more time on their hands.

    I live for the day when a large number of those people are scanning the classifieds.

  28. Marblehead’s actually north of Boston — about 20 miles or so — but I don’t think he lived there. His website says he’s from New Hampshire and lived in Lynn, MA, which is close to Marblehead, for about 20 years or so. (Read more here: http://www.larouchepub.com/resume.html.) Interestingly, the website also claims his parents to be “presently deceased.” It’s not clear how, if at all, this differs from just plain-old deceased.

  29. “Cicero did that shit all the time, but I don’t remember a name for it.”

    I used to work with a very crafty lawyer. We were frequently at odds with the federal government over some or another regulatory scheme. So we have a lot of interviews, meetings, etc. with boomer aged, federal government middle to upper level managers. Whenever one of these bureaucrats starts making baseless statements, my lawyer tells a story to this effect:

    “You know, when I was a young man working as a staffer in D.C. back in the ’60’s I remember Richard Nixon creating facts out of thin air, simply by stating “Well, I don’t know that Senator X is a commie bastard, but people are saying so.”

    It gets their attention every time.

  30. Totally disgusting.
    Like saying. I’m not saying he gets money from the Mafia but he has friends in Young Italian Organizations that eat at restaurants in Little Italy frequently where Mafioso are know to dine at.
    “Are you saying he’s in cahoots with Mafia Cartels”

    I’m not saying that, I’m just saying we don’t know. (leaving the stamp all over and insinuation)

    DISGUSTING…. and if politicans don’t understand where to draw the line with disgusting attacks I mean I don’t think I’d ever do something like that, then its scary to me.
    And Hastert is supposed to be among the intelligent or more so in Congress?

    I mean I hope for his sake, that he just simply hates Soros so much for funding below the belt sites like moveon and just wants to find anyway to hit back at him like a child, and smear him somehow but actually realizes how false and cheap this is….

    And that would be giving him the benefit of the doubt.

    Otherwise, you have to believe he’s a borderline scarey guy with tendencies of McCarthy that he thinks are yet ok?

  31. Someone at the top of the thread asked about a name for this sort of dirty trick. Of course the obvious choice would be to just call it a Hastert, but I think it could be spiced up a bit. When someone makes use of this trick, perhaps he “pinched off a Hastert,” or “rang the doorbell, left a burning bag of Hastert, and ran away” (a little cumbersome, I admit). I’m sure folks here can come up with much better phrases, but you get the idea.
    If we pitch it to Dan Savage maybe we can make him as famous as Rick Santorum. Then again, maybe I should have just let this whole theme drop….

  32. “If we pitch it to Dan Savage…”

    You can pitch something to him but if you’re smart you won’t try to catch whatever he throws back at you.

  33. Check out Jack Shafer’s latest: “Dennis Hastert: Liar or Fool”. Apparently the Speaker did something similar a week ago, making it clear that it wasn’t just a slip: “You know, Soros’ money, some of that is coming from overseas. It could be drug money. We don’t know where it comes from.”

  34. I believe it was LBJ who said it’s enough just to make your opponent *deny* fucking a pig.

  35. Someone also needs to come up with a name for the non-apology apology you see so much these days (“If anyone was offended, I apologize”). A la Kobe the other day.

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