Addington’s Useful Idiots

KagroX, who just got named one of Politico’s top tweeters yesterday, just asked this question:

Has there ever been a populist movement cheering for default & austerity?

We’ve seen default situations around the world, and austerity programs imposed as a result. But popular political movements in FAVOR of it?

I replied,

Wrong to describe as populist movement calling for austerity. I think it’s partially populist partially astroturf calling for chaos.

Take a look, for example, at who Yochi Dreazen claims is riding herd on the TeaParty ideology at the moment.

Addington has taken on a new role as enforcer of tea party dogma during the intensifying partisan bickering over the debt ceiling. From his perch as the Heritage Foundation’s vice president for domestic and economic policy, Addington is throwing verbal thunderbolts at House Speaker John Boehner’s current debt-ceiling proposal, which he argues will pave the way to tax increases.

The merits of Addington’s arguments about the need to oppose Boehner’s proposals are in some ways less interesting than the simple fact that Addington is the one publicly making them.

And while I’m sympathetic with those who express horror that our torture architect is now whipping the pro-default vote, I think it worth looking more closely at what Addington said to whip the vote.

This man, after all, championed two unfunded wars. In fact, as he and his boss were putting the final touches on the lies that would justify the second, illegal war, his boss overrode the Treasury Secretary’s fiscal concerns about one of several tax cuts, stating, “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.” And that guy–one of the guys involved in blowing up the deficit with wars and tax cuts–had this to say:

The government has racked up $14.294 trillion in debt — thought of by no-one as a little credit card debt.  The spend-tax-and-borrow crowd, currently headed by President Obama, has been in charge in Washington too long.  They have mortgaged the futures of our children and grandchildren.  Our government is so deep in debt that the share of debt of a baby born today is $45,000.

It is time for the spend-tax-and-borrow crowd to stop.  As the President indicated, conservatives want deep spending cuts.  In contrast, President Obama wants more taxes, a terrible idea.  First, the government already takes too much money from the pockets of Americans in taxes.  Second, if Americans give the government more money in taxes, the government will just find ways to spend it, rather than using it to pay off the public debt.  Third,  raising taxes reduces investment, which cuts economic growth and kills jobs.

So the Heritage Foundation, which of course first invented the legislation–health care reform–that ultimately set off the TeaParty, pays the guy who said, “We’re one bomb away from getting rid of that obnoxious [FISA] court,” the guy who wielded his pocket Constitution like a sword as he did battle to shred it, to attack those who “spend-tax-and-borrow,” ignoring all the time that the folks who have been in Washington too long are those who “spend-cut-and-borrow.” Addington’s own people.

Meanwhile, the grassroots part of this? They mustered about 50 people for a rally in DC yesterday, one which many of the TeaParty members of Congress attended. And yet as a desperate John Boehner tried to wield what weapons he had to win votes (the TeaPartiers already led him to get rid of the all-important pork he might have used to persuade the TeaPartiers, and Boehner seems to have given up his former ways of distributing checks on the floor of Congress as bribes), one after another TeaPartier refused to budge, even in the absence of any remaining grassroots movement.

In other words, the TeaParty grassroots movement that used to exist is just the excuse, at this point, for those trying to finish the job they started in 2001 redefining our government.

With the chaos that default will cause, think how much easier it will be to convince voters they need a unitary executive?

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

44 replies
  1. Desider says:

    And isn’t a Senate group busy trying to renew FISA while everyone’s distracted with the debt ceiling rashemon?

  2. Jim White says:

    The fact that Addington has not yet been struck by lightening pushes me deeper into agnosticism, getting ever closer to atheism.

  3. klynn says:

    @Jim White:

    I adore your comment and I adore your insights.

    Your comment would make a great post.

    EW, this is a great post. One of the most important I have read in a while. Drawing the lines from Addington to the tea party is interesting to examine, especially the $$$ behind the TP.

    • bmaz says:

      From a Reuters story at the time:

      O’Neill said he tried to warn Vice President Dick Cheney that growing budget deficits-expected to top $500 billion this fiscal year alone-posed a threat to the economy. Cheney cut him off. “You know, Paul, Reagan proved deficits don’t matter,” he said, according to excerpts. Cheney continued: “We won the midterms (congressional elections). This is our due.” A month later, Cheney told the Treasury secretary he was fired.

  4. posaune says:

    I still recall EW’s description of Asbergery Addington on the witness stand. Genius call on EW’s part.

  5. prostratedragon says:

    Back in the old days when the motus thought they could control everything they were setting loose in the name of maximum extraction “creative destruction,” I’ll bet they also thought to use the tea party to normalize wagging mouths like Bill O’Reilly and Ann Coulter, the new voices of reason. From that strategic view one can see how a thoroughly unpleasant and expendable bastard like Addington would be useful as a whip, not only to make sure that something stays loud enough a) to make those others look as needed; but also b) probably to drown out the noise of boiler room shouting and groaning metal-on-metal emanating from other parts of the right wing shop, which might be having some trouble doing what is necessary to keep the Congressional tea partiers in a more orderly line. Addington’s mug is a sharp reminder.

  6. rg says:

    I sometimes wonder if the dots of recalled events do connect into a strategic plan or whether they are simply occurring. They do seem to be part of a plan. In my speculations, I sometimes see the planting of a Republican, Federalist Society trojan horse as a liberal Democrat presidential candidate to help things along.

  7. GulfCoastPirate says:

    Bravo. So when will our numbers be large enough so that the Addington types can be made to walk the plank into shark infested gulf waters?

  8. rkilowatt says:

    The concept and practice of declaring “jubilee” might meet the definition of “populist”.

  9. Mary says:

    @GulfCoastPirate: Truthfully – I think that’s not until drafts send young Republicans out to fight and return limbless from the wars they pump up; when communities have the elderly dieing off in homes and apartment buildings and being removed when the smells come to someone’s attention; when the youth have lots of guns – no jobs – no educations – and no longer any welfare safety net so that they stay safely tucked away playing video games; when social services like fire and water and roads crumble, etc. It’s a long way away. Especially with the military and the news media and Justice Department all affirmative recruits with a Congress that will only put right wing ideology on the bench, in craming down a rework of the constitution that never required any amendment.

    YOu have Addington in his role, and Rove sitting on huge PAC cash and Obama a worthless nonentity that nonetheless shines in a party of even more worthless nonentities.

    Besides GCP – you forget the old joke that has a lot of reality in Addington’s situation. The one about the shark infested water and the litigation lawyer swimming through unmolested – professional courtesy being what it is.

  10. rkilowatt says:

    @William Ockham: “This is all part of the long term plan to turn us into a feudal society.”

    Stated so concisely that the horrible truth is unconfrontable? It passed by unnoticed, like a massive neutron?

  11. Garrett says:

    This Addington post, not about DOMA, is interesting, for what the whipper-upper of the Tea Party does not say.

    It’s only intuition, with nothing to peg it on. But David Addington does not believe the crap he managed to avoid saying.

  12. bmaz says:

    @Mary: I am mostly testing out this newfangled reply system.

    But, additionally, Mary you must be kind to our Pirate friend, he has been in hurricane mode!

  13. merkwurdiglieber says:

    The Shock Doctrine, the Condor, Chaos Theory, call it by it’s many names, it is
    the long sought opportunity to destroy the
    rest of the New Deal. The replacement of democratic republicanism by corporate feudalism, globalistan according to Pepe Escobar.

  14. William Ockham says:

    @rkilowatt: I’m convinced that the Beltway establishment (press, lobbyists, bureaucrats, lawyers, staffers, think tankers, etc.) are truly blinded to the rather radical vision that animates Addington and Cheney. Although in Cheney’s case, maybe I should say re-animates…

  15. matthew carmody says:

    @William Ockham:
    Interesting. I just started reading Marc Bloch’s Feudal Society again. After a 34 year hiatus it’s so much more interesting. I read Bloch during the day and at night, the medieval mysteries of Alan Gordon.

    I’ve connected the dots before and there’s no escaping that all of this has been in the works for a long, long time. Corporations have a long timeline. They can wait forever for their agenda to be implemented because they never lose sight of the prize while those who fight that agenda always have to be replaced and lose traction in the process.

    What we’re living through right now is the reaction to the progressive era. A little late in gaining the ascendancy, but here it is. After all the labor wars, all the workers’ blood spilled to get what little peace of mind workers could secure, the forces of reaction are riding roughshod over everything.

    It’s almost like the oligarchs are the Klan, riding hooded through every city in America, beating all the “uppity n*s.” Only we’re all n*s to them now.

  16. rkilowatt says:

    @William Ockham: “…truly blinded…”

    Remarkable in passing, that such condition often derives from being raised to operate in life “under color of another’s authority”, i.e., via inculcated viewpoints.
    An endemic problem that few escape…and none completely.

  17. merkwurdiglieber says:

    @matthew carmody: The Historian’s Craft was required reading at grad school back in the day… the counter-enlightenment never gave up and now we have the failure of nerve that follows the failure of the intellect, an entropaic cultural implosion.

  18. rkilowatt says:

    By the way, Jack London in The Iron Heel* referred to “mental aberration” , which seems to allow for mental commands that establish viewpoints and blockages that a person unknowingly adopts as his own [mis-owns].

    * IIRC in 1st chapter.

  19. rkilowatt says:

    @merkwurdiglieber: Was it Socrates? Plato? who complained that poets were the ruin of civilization, because their literature became the “true” history. After all, there was no training, much less scientific preparation, for “historian”.

    I.e., literature trumps history.

  20. Sojourner says:

    @rg: I have wondered the same thing for a very long time…Who are the grand puppeteers orchestrating the play? For such a long time, it has seemed that there truly is some grand scheme — nothing is by chance.

    I recently re-read “The Prince” and was fascinated to see many of the strategies illuminated in that book were the same strategies Bush and other Republican fiends have been using (yes, I mean “fiends”).

    I keep wondering, though, about the end game. It is like the Monopoly game in which one person is able to clear the board, so to speak, and take over every property and every dollar. All the other players are totally broke, and then there is no one else to play with. In reality, there will be no one to buy goods to keep the economy working and all that money they have stashed will be worthless… My two cents!

  21. merkwurdiglieber says:

    @rkilowatt: Plato and Socrates were philosophers, not historians. The best histories are literature, written by people who haven’t had their talent bleached out by too much acedemics. Pable Neruda was a poet/historian/diplomat… those types are rare but they can be found usually on the road not taken.

  22. Gitcheegumee says:

    It’s all going according to the Stanford Research Institute Plan,commissioned by the US government back in the ’70’s.

    The planned collapse of America
    By Peter Chamberlin————–Online Journal

    Stanford University Blueprint for America,circa 70’s,”Images of Man”

    “Changing Images of Man”
    The planned collapse of America Dec 7, 2007 … Their final report was released as the Changing Images of Man. … Changing Images of Man predicts an American economic collapse and a … – 33k – Cached – Similar pages

    NOTE: Please be advised that the anodized aluminum hats will experience an increase in price due to Goldman Sachs’ dubious warehousing of the requisite aluminum.

  23. Gitcheegumee says:

    Changing Images of Man (Systems science and world order library) [Hardcover]
    Oliver W. Markley (Author), Joseph Campbell (Editor), O. W. Markley (Editor), Willis W. Harman (Editor)

  24. lysias says:

    Before he went to work for Cheney’s Office of the Vice President in 2001, Addington was vice president and general counsel of the American Trucking Association. So he knows the corporatocracy, as well as the military-industrial complex.

  25. Gitcheegumee says:

    David Addington is the most powerful man you’ve never heard of … › Home › Nation & World – CachedSimilar

    May 21, 2006 – Cheney’s Guy. He’s barely known outside Washington’s corridors of power, but David Addington is the most powerful man you’ve never heard of. …

    NOTE: Terrific article for those of us who are somewhat newcomers to this Machevellian cast of characters.

    (Btw, I tried to use the ew seasrch engine for earlier commentaries and threads on this subject ,but there are no historical links.)

  26. Gitcheegumee says:

    matthew carmody @ 8:32

    I am not familiar with Report from Iron Mountain,but thanks for the tip,matt.

    matthew carmody @ 8:34

    Well, I am surprised that Amamzon even has 2 copies for sale. A few months back,there were none available.

    Of particular note is the participation of Joseph Campbell( long before his Bill Moyers conversations.)Willis Harman is a most intriguing figure,too.

    The Peter Chamberlain article at Online Journal gives a particularly interesting synopsis,btw.

  27. Bob Schacht says:

    For those who may have forgotten, Addington is an expert at browbeating people and pummeling them (verbally) into submission.

    On the Rachel Maddow show tonight, Luke Russert and Melissa
    attributed Boehner’s impotence to the lack of earmarks to pass around. I think they fear the stick of a phone call from Addington more than they covet the carrot of some pork for their constituents.

    Bob in AZ

  28. GulfCoastPirate says:

    [email protected] (Is this how we reply now? I really have to catch up on the new way of doing things. And where do I reply? I go off to plunder and pillage for a day and when I come back I’m about 3 threads behind.)

    Agreed, the conditions probably aren’t right but they’re getting there. You can’t leave 20% of your productive capacity idle, essentially tell them in the last few days that we not only intend to do nothing to help you but also intend to add to your ranks and expect them to sit around to slowly starve to death. It’s an instantaneous society now and I don’t think the oligarchs have hundreds of years to live off the sweat of others.

    I wouldn’t worry about all that anti-lawyer crap. I think the Persians used to tell the same jokes before the Greeks kicked their asses and lookie – you guys are still around. You’ve outlasted centuries of despots and assorted assholes. You must have something going for you.

  29. GulfCoastPirate says:

    [email protected]

    What a dud of a hurricane/tropical storm. I barely got enough rain to wet the lawn and it looks like my friends in the hill country will get little to none of the rain they need.

    Of course, like with any good lawyer, the bills will go out for services rendered in preparation and I’ll drink the stockpile of chianti and tequila later when the checks come in. This is actually a pretty good racket if I do say so myself. I sure hope after the revolution they leave Cantore and the Weather Channel in place. The fear they spread is very profitable. By the time the rational people have seen it is going south the Faux News crowd is panicking.

    I think I’m going here with the profits.

  30. Bob Schacht says:

    “I wouldn’t worry about all that anti-lawyer crap. I think the Persians used to tell the same jokes before the Greeks kicked their asses and lookie – you guys are still around. You’ve outlasted centuries of despots and assorted assholes. You must have something going for you. ”

    Lawyers are a necessary part of imperial society, which must have laws to keep the population in line. In the really old days, the ruler was the Supreme Court all by himself. Saudi Arabia is still like this, somewhat. The problem with that approach is that there are too many litigants, and they take up too much of the ruler’s time. Therefore, all the better to have a class of lawyers to handle all the routine stuff.

    Bob in AZ

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