The Starting Line – Congressman Darrell Issa’s Loose Lips Helping to Sink the GOP’s Ship


By Doug Porter

North San Diego’s Congressional Representative Darrell Issa’s making the news this week as his vote against the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (also known as the fiscal cliff bill) and his support of Speaker John  Boehner’s decision to adjourn without taking up a disaster relief bill has come under fire.

The Washington-based Media Matters group cited Issa as an example of media malfeasance in reporting on the so-called ‘fiscal-cliff’ negotiations over the past week, noting that the Congressman was given ample air time to attack the pending deal without mentioning his personal financial interests:

In appearances on Fox News’ Fox & Friends (1/2), CNN’sThe Situation Room (1/1) and CNN Newsroom (12/31/12), the issue of Issa’s wealth was not broached by the reporters and anchors who interviewed him.

As Politico reported, Issa’s 2011 financial disclosure statement showed almost $15 million in earnings from investments. The vast majority of Issa’s income comes from investments — income that will be taxed at a higher rate under the legislation that just passed (capital gains taxes will be increased from 15 percent to 20 percent for families making over $450,000 a year.)

The Center for Responsive Politics estimates that Issa has a net worth between $195 million and $700 million.Roll Call ranked him as the second wealthiest member of the 112th Congress, based on the lowest and most charitable estimate of his wealth (members of Congress are only required to report ranges of their wealth, not exact numbers.)

In voting “No” on the bill, Issa voted in his own self-interest, a pertinent fact that Fox and CNN never bothered to tell their viewers.

 Meanwhile, over at CNN this morning Rep. Peter King (R-NY) lashed out at Issa, for defending Speaker Boehner’s decision to adjourn Tuesday night before taking up the Sandy relief package. Issa also denounced the bill as being “packed” with pork. Money quote:

 First of all, with all due respect, Darrell Issa is 1,000 percent wrong. There is absolutely no pork in the bill. There were some items that were added in the senate involving Alaska, which is less than one percent of the bill. Even though it’s only one percent of the bill, every one of those items was removed from the House bill and I wish Darrell Issa had learned that and looked into that before he went public and said that my constitituents should not get their homes rebuilt, should not have the waste management plants rebuild, that Gov. [Chris] Christie should not be given the opportunity to rebuild New Jersey and Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo in New York.

 Every dollar that Gov. Christie, Gov. Cuomo and Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg requested has been documented, the speaker will tell you that, the majority leader will tell you that. There is no pork and to somehow say that $33 billion is pork, Darrell Issa, with all due respect is 1,000 percent wrong. I say that again: 1,000 percent wrong. The speaker disagrees with him, and if he wants to take it up with somebody, call Gov. Christie.

Although it’s probably too much to wish for, it sure would be nice if Issa’s GOP colleagues would actually wake up to the reality that he’s often engaging his mouth prior to checking the facts.

FYI- The disaster relief bill will be voted on this week. The House Appropriations Committee split the legislation into two parts: a $27 billion measure for immediate recovery needs and a second amendment for $33 billion to meet longer-term needs. Much of the money in the proposals is for immediate help for victims and other recovery and rebuilding efforts. The aid is intended to help states rebuild public infrastructure such as roads and tunnels and help thousands of people displaced from their homes.

The F Bomb and Other Fallout from the Fiscal Cliff Deal

fbombI doubt that you’ll hear much about this in San Diego, but Politico’s account of an incident at the White House during the budget negotiations has certainly been noticed elsewhere.

 House Speaker John Boehner couldn’t hold back when he spotted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the White House lobby last Friday.

 It was only a few days before the nation would go over the fiscal cliff, no bipartisan agreement was in sight, and Reid had just publicly accused Boehner of running a “dictatorship” in the House and caring more about holding onto his gavel than striking a deal.

 “Go f— yourself,” Boehner sniped as he pointed his finger at Reid, according to multiple sources present.

 Reid, a bit startled, replied: “What are you talking about?”

 Boehner repeated: “Go f— yourself.”

 The harsh exchange just a few steps from the Oval Office — which Boehner later bragged about to fellow Republicans — was only one episode in nearly two months of high-stakes negotiations laced with distrust, miscommunication, false starts and yelling matches as Washington struggled to ward off $500 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts.

  Fox News’ Neil Cavuto defended Boehner’s F-bomb with an ironic quip:

 It is a wonder Boehner didn’t curse more. It is even more of a wonder why the media didn’t wish he did. That’s not fair, that’s not right, that is wrong. Would it ever kill us to get the other side of the story? Would we ever try?

 Meanwhile, over at NPR’s Morning Edition, conserv National Review editor Robert Costanro predicted that rumors about a teahadist rebellion unseating Speaker Boehner would come to naught:

 Boehner is safe because no one really wants his job as Speaker.

 The Washington Post today takes a look at international coverage of Congressional dysfunction/the budget deal and comes up with this gem:

 America-pessimism seems to be getting a big boost this week. Mexico’s El Economista newspaper published a scathing article by editorial director Luis Miguel Gonzalez, who in his first sentence says that the fiscal cliff crisis shows that the United States is now “una república bananera” — a banana republic. Gonzalez blames Democrats as well, calling the partisan divide an intrinsically American quirk, similar to our “hamburger-eating contests.”

The GOP’s Post-Election Blues

One of the consequences of getting beat in an election is declining interest in the losing political side. This takes many different forms; after all nobody likes to hang with a loser.

Nationally we can see the difference reflected in TV ratings. Fox News viewership in down. MSNBC is on the ascendant, as this data from NewsCorpse via Daily Kos shows:

For the month of December, two-thirds of the Fox News primetime lineup came in second to MSNBC (in the critical 25-54 year old demographic). The Rachel Maddow Show’s monthly average came in 4% above the formidable Fox fixture, Sean Hannity. Lawrence O’Donnell had an even better advantage of 11% over his weaker competition, Greta Van Susteren.

This was a stark difference from last year when Hannity comfortably led Maddow by 46% and Van Susteren outpaced O’Donnell by the same amount. Those leads have now completely evaporated. Only Bill O’Reilly has managed to keep his fat head above water, although his 69% December 2011 lead over Ed Schultz was cut nearly in half in 2012 to 40%.


San Diego Consequences

Locally, Teahadist Richard Rider took a few moments over the holiday break to ponder the future for conserve blog SDRostra:

It appears that interest in and activity on this formerly robust blog has dropped dramatically. I suspect that there is more to it than simple GOP post-election blues or holiday slowdown (I see other conservative/libertarian political blogs still quite active).

It also seems that he was concerned about the fact that his comments weren’t instantly approved on the blog. Now that problem has been addressed, and the future’s so bright at SDRostra that editor-type person Thor’s Assistant is wearing shades.

Republican activist Ryan Trabuco took to the interwebs yesterday to announce his decision to re-register as “no party preference”. It’s not that he likes Democrats, it’s just that he can’t stand his old party:

I admit, I said for a long time that wild horses couldn’t drag me from my party — and they didn’t. The selfish behavior of those who would rather bring our country to its’ knees, rather than face the challenges ahead of us have drug the party away from me. The constant kowtowing to the Tea Party and like-minded ideologues have damaged the brand, the mission, and the spirit of the Republican Party.

 Look at California. The Republican Party, here, is a mess. Enough said.

 In San Diego, it’s not nearly as bad but there’s problems here as well. There’s nothing wrong with good-natured, well-intentioned, and much-needed government reforms, but there is a significant problem when you allow a single elected official — an emotional and personality equivalent to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride — to dictate the focus of the party, and whether you are or aren’t welcome within the apparatus.

 Gosh, I wonder who he was talking about.

‘Devoid of Soul’

Back on the National scene, former Utah Gov. and GOP Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman had words aplenty for Telegraph newspaper about his party:

“The party right now is a holding company that’s devoid of a soul and it will be filled up with ideas over time and leaders will take their proper place,” he said.

Mr Huntsman urged the party to “reflect a little bit on our winning chapters” and face up to a demographic reality where white conservatives represent a shrinking portion of the electorate.

“We can’t be known as a party that’s fear-based and doesn’t believe in math,” he said. “In the end it will come down to a party that believes in opportunity for all our people, economic competitiveness and a strong dose of libertarianism.” 

When in Doubt Add More Fear

From Hunter over at Daily Kos, because it highlights Huntsman’s assertion about the GOP:

The American Family Association is, to be terse about it, nuts. To be longer about it, they are somewhere between a hate group and an outright scam, one of those conservative satellite organizations that exist to promote their own particular prophesies of imminent doom because of liberals or atheists or brown people, and to then use those promoted fears as fundraising tool.

To that end, the newest Donald Wildmon endorsed conspiracy is that godfearing Christians will, within the next 50 years, become a government-oppressed underclass. They will be treated “like African Americans were prior to civil rights legislation in the 1960s”, i.e., the Jim Crow era. And much, much more

[including this prediction]

Cities with a name from the Bible such as St. PetersburgBethlehem, etc. will be forced to change their name due to separation of church and state.

 City Council District 4 Race Factoids

Special-Election2Now that San Diego City Councilman Tony Young has officially resigned, the special election for his seat is underway.  Eleven candidates have submitted paperwork to the city clerk announcing their interest in the position; they must now gather enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.  The election looks to be happening in the last week of March, along with an Assembly race to replace Juan Vargas.

The leading candidates are Educator Dwayne Crenshaw, employment recruiter Barry Pollard and Young’s former advisor Bruce Williams.  The 4th district seat has long been viewed as shoo-in for former Council staff. From the SDReader:

In District 4, the council seat has been passed down to chiefs like a baton. Prior to being elected to the council in 1987, Wes Pratt was county supervisor Leon Williams’s chief. George Stevens beat Pratt in 1991; Stevens’s chief was Charles Lewis. Lewis was elected in 2002; his chief of staff was Tony Young. Young was elected in 2005; his chief of staff is Jimmie Slack, who was, like Pratt, a chief of staff for Supervisor Williams.

Although District 4 is heavily Democratic, local Republicans have publicly mused about the possibility of getting one of their own elected via the crowded field. If no candidate wins the special election with more than 50% of the vote, a run-off will be held within 45 days between the two candidates who receive the most votes.

The Voice & Viewpoint has announced a community forum with candidates for the council seat on Wednesday, January 30th (6pm) at the Jacobs Center. (404 Euclid Ave.)

Because Young was elected prior to the re-drawing of district lines, only those living within the boundaries of the old 4th District will be eligible to participate in this election. People living in Redwood Village and Rolando Park, which joined the 4th this fall, can not.

In the interim, Todd Gloria has announced that Young’s old staff will remain in place under the City Council President’s supervision.

ARETHA FRANKLIN QUEEN OF SOULOn This Day: 1947 – U.S. Congressional proceedings were televised for the first time. Viewers in Washington, Philadelphia and New York City saw some of the opening ceremonies of the 80th Congress.  1959 –  Alaska became the 49th state.  1987 – Aretha Franklin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with Bill Haley and 14 others. Franklin was the first woman to be inducted.

Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmer’s Markets: Carmel Valley (Canyon Crest Academy 5951 Village Center Loop Road) 3:30 – 7:00 pm, Chula Vista(Downtown, Center St. & Third Ave.) 3 –7 pm, Linda Vista  (6900 Linda Vista Road Between Comstock & Ulric) 2 – 7 pm, North Park (CVSPharmacy parking lot 3151 University & 32nd St.) 3 – 7 pm, Oceanside Market & Faire (Pier View Way & Coast Hwy. 101) 9 am – 1 pm,Oceanside Sunset (Tremont & Pier View Way) 5 –9 pm, San Carlos (Pershing Middle School 8204 San Carlos Drive) 4 – 7 pm, SDSU Farmers’ Market (Campanile Walkway btw Hepner Hall & Love Library) 10 – 3 pm, University Town Center  (Genesee Ave. at UTC Westfield Shopping Plaza) 3 – 7 pm.

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I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org    Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.


Doug Porter

Doug Porter was active in the early days of the alternative press in San Diego, contributing to the OB Liberator, the print version of the OB Rag, the San Diego Door, and the San Diego Street Journal. He went on to have a 35 year career in the Hospitality business and decided to go back into raising hell when he retired. He's won awards for 'Daily Reporting and Writing: Opinion/Editorial' from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Doug is a cancer survivor (sans vocal chords) and lives in North Park.
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  1. avatar says

    Welcome back, Doug! We missed you, dude, but we also know you deserved that needed break.

    Btw, did you notice that our newly-elected Congressman Scott Peters told the media that he would place social security and medicare on the table. Nice goin’ Scotty baby – first day on the job!

    • avatarDoug Porter says

      Maybe he meant we should raise the income cap for Social Security Taxes and index it to inflation, a move that would solve SS’s oft-lamented and not-near-at-hand (despite the myths) solvency. Or, maybe he meant implementing more cost controlling measures under Obamacare, paying for actual performance/results rather than padding for-profit hospitals bottom lines.

      Somehow I doubt it. But I can dream.

  2. avatarLucas O'Connor says

    Worth remembering that Darrell Issa also famously spoke out against funding health care for 9/11 first responders, because “it simply was an aircraft” and thus a local problem.

  3. avatarDavid says

    Issa is another example voter malfeasance. Why do my fellow district residents (thanks to redistricting, we went from Cunningham/Bilbray to this joker) keep this moron in office? He cried when he didn’t get to be governor, he misrepresents facts and ignores the truth and has been a disgrace since he was elected and re-elected. If you want to find out what side of an issue not to be on, see how Issa voted. I hope we soon get our version of Scott Peters to get this guy out of office and back in the Cayman Islands with his darling money…

  4. avatar says

    There’s more than enough money in the social security trust fund to pay out benefits for 30 some years. What they (Republicans and Demos except Bernie Sanders) don’t want to talk about is that the monies supposedly in that trust fund have actually been spent in the general fund so there is nothing in it but IOUs. Now politicians don’t want to honor those IOUs because it would mean running up the deficit so they make up the myth that social security is broke. No it’s not. Just honor the damn IOUs. If they were honest they would tell you that the problem is with the deficit and the debt and the fact that they have essentially betrayed the American people by spending all their regressive FICA taxes on wars instead of raising taxes progressively a long time ago to cover the general fund.