Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Warrantless Blogtapping Program

Issue: The GOP Rapid Re-Education of John Hawkins

When it comes to Comprehensive Immigration Reform, tough-talking John Hawkins, owner of the conservative blog Right Wing News is essentially no different than the Republican squishes in the Senate whom he pretends to despise. In the end, I conclude that he's a regular GOP party hack. What makes it worse, though, is that he pretends not to be. But don't believe me, read the following roller-coaster chain of commentary and decide for yourself.

At 7:30AM, on Monday, June 25th, 2007, Hawkins was in a state of apparent frenzy over the first cloture vote in the Senate on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill (S. 1639). This vote was scheduled for the following day, Tuesday, June 26th, 2007. Now let's remember that this particular cloture vote was simply to end debate on the motion to proceed to consideration of the measure. It was NOT a cloture vote on the measure itself. But, Hawkins apparently considered this cloture vote to be of paramount importance. This is what he wrote about it:

In my book, there is no such thing as a "good" senator who supports this bill. Every decent thing these guys have done in their whole career is garbage compared to a vote for cloture on this immigration bill -- and I mean a vote for cloture. If they vote for cloture and then turn around and vote against the bill, that means nothing. In fact, it's an insult, because it means that they think their constituents are too stupid to understand that the cloture vote is where this bill will be stopped -- if it's going to be stopped at all.

So, pick up that phone, write that email, send that fax and do it TODAY! Let these guys know that a vote for cloture is a vote against conservatism, against the Republican Party, and a vote against America -- and let them know how angry you'll be if they betray this country by voting for cloture.
Now, he couldn't have been any more forceful and clear. In fact, he made a point to distinguish between voting against the bill and voting for this particular cloture motion, and drew a line in the sand. And for emphasis, lest anyone be confused, he added: "and I mean a vote for cloture." He threw down the gauntlet and took off the gloves. This was serious business: if they vote for cloture, "their whole career is garbage."

So, what happened? On the next day, Tuesday, June 26, 2007, the cloture motion passed with a vote of 64 in favor and 35 againts. At 2:57PM on Tuesday, June 26, 2007, Hawkins posted an entry which he titled "Mexico 64 Vs. America 35." That's very telling in itself for a couple of reasons. First, it revealed that for Hawkins this really wasn't about legal vs. illegal immigration, but rather about Mexico vs. America. In other words, it wasn't simply a question of law enforcement and security (since not all illegal immigrants are Mexicans), but was also about preserving some kind of ethnic, linguistic, and cultural "purity." But that's a subject for another discussion. Second, and more relevant to what I'm trying to focus on now, is that the title of this blog entry also implied that those who voted for cloture, those among the 64, were essentially traitors to America and servants of Mexico. I mean, really, Hawkins created a clear dichotomy: if you weren't one of the 35 who voted against cloture, you weren't worthy of being considered a part of America. So, there's that. But Hawkins wasn't just content to end with the total tally. He went on in this posting to list the 64 traitors and the 35 patriots by name -- paying particular attention to the Republican Senators among the villainous 64. Now remember, Hawkins said just 31 hours previously that, by their vote for this particular cloture motion, "every decent thing these guys [the villainous 64] have done in their whole career is garbage compared to a vote for cloture on this immigration bill -- and I mean a vote for cloture." And remember he went even further and declared: "If they vote for cloture and then turn around and vote against the bill, that means nothing." There were 24 Republican Senators among the villainous, treasonous 64, one of whom was John Ensign (R-NV).

Of course, the next step the Senate took was to proceed to consider the measure, which allowed for debate and a slew of Amendments to the measure to be considered before moving along to the second cloture motion to end debate on the measure itself. This second cloture motion was schedule for Thursday morning, June 28, 2007. Hawkins had a series of posts leading up to this vote as well as some post-vote commentary. At 7:45AM on this Thursday morning, Hawkins put up a posting in which he discussed the upcoming cloture vote. In his third update on this post, he mentioned an email he received from Sen. John Ensign indicating that Ensign would vote against the second cloture motion. Now, because it was an update to an earlier posting, I do not have any idea at what specific moment before the cloture vote began when Hawkins received this communication; but it had to be within a few hours of the vote itself. In my book, that's cutting it pretty close. But listen to how Hawkins responded in this update:
Update #3: Yesterday, I wrote John Ensign's press secretary and complained that during his interview with me, he seemed to be indicating that he could not support the bill unless it had an exit visa in it, but yet, he voted for cloture on Tuesday, despite the fact it doesn't have that in the bill.

His press secretary wrote back that the first vote was to allow more debate, but he was also non-committal about what John Ensign would do today.

Well, just now, John Randall, the ePress Secretary for the RNSC just wrote me the following message,

"Sen. Ensign Will Vote No on today’s cloture vote."

Given how tight this thing is, having another definite "no" vote is very big -- especially since there are so many undecided senators. The more certain they become that this bill is going to fail, the less inclined they will be to climb out on a limb and vote for it.

All I can say is thank you, Senator Ensign! We're lucky to have this guy running the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

If you want to say thanks to him for standing up against amnesty when it counts, chipping in a few bucks to the NRSC would be a good way to do it
The emphasis in the above citation is mine. Now tell me if I'm missing something here, but in a period of less than 72 hours, Hawkins went from considering Ensign's entire career to have been "garbage" for taking the side of Mexico against the U.S. in the first cloture vote, and considering a switch from a "YES" vote to a "NO" vote to be an "insult," to gushing over how lucky the GOP is to have such a stand-up guy running the NRSC!!! And then Hawkins asks people to throw a few bucks at the NRSC as a gesture of thanks to Ensign!!! What gives? It's rather schizophrenic behavior if you ask me.

But that's not all. In his post-second-cloture-vote victory gloat, which was posted a short few hours later at 10:44AM, the 72 hour "re-education" of Hawkins was nearly complete. And it didn't even have to come through a forced "re-education" camp either! Here are some of the things Hawkins had to say in this post:
Keep in mind that John Ensign, the head of the RNSC, voted for cloture when it counted -- and he let people know his decision before the vote started. So, he didn't just go with the flow once he saw the bill was going to lose, like Sam Brownback and some of the others. Tossing a few bucks the NRSC's way as a thank-you wouldn't be the worst idea in the world.
PS #3: Some people are complaining that I am, as promised, tabling the Payback Project. Well, ya know, that's just what I said I'd do. Think carrot and stick.
[ASIDE: The "Payback Project" was a threat made by Hawkins to carry out an organized and extensive retaliation against GOP Senators who supported the bill. But Hawkins always softened his threat by saying that he'd do it "if the bill passed." Just more evidence of his squishiness, if you ask me.]

I'll stop right there and let you decide about John Hawkins and whether he is a squish and a party hack. But, I'll end by pointing that I'm not the only one who thinks this. Here is what one of Hawkins' regular conservative commenters, memomachine, in one of the last comments in the comment thread on Hawkins post-cloture-victory-gloat posting had to say about the "re-education" of Hawkins:

Frankly this is ridiculous. Now that Republican senators have shown to your face how much they consider you to be irrelevant, now you're going to table the payback project?

What? Nobody deserves payback? Nobody deserves punishment for disregarding the will of the American people for weeks? Nobody deserves payback for calling conservatives "bigots"?

That's nonsense.

Personally my opinion of John Hawkins has just dropped to zero. All he is capable of is waking up at times to act but then he goes right back to sleep with the admonishment to support Republicans.

Good luck with that. But I'm sure not going to continue wasting my time here. ...

Posted by memomachine
June 29, 2007 10:16 AM
Hawkins is painting his "re-education" as a gesture of "magnanimity." I don't think there's any doubt that he's being magnanimous to folks like Ensign. But for those who complained about Hawkins "mothballing" the Payback Project, I wonder how "magnanimous" this Hawkins statement to the stormtroopers sounds:
PS #3: Some people are complaining that I am, as promised, tabling the Payback Project. Well, ya know, that's just what I said I'd do. Think carrot and stick.
Well, ya know, so you did. So you did. Be careful, though, lest your stormtroopers begin to think that you're giving Ensign the carrot, but giving them the stick.

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