Bloggers respond to Tom DeLay's indictment; they also react to news that reports of post-Katrina violence in New Orleans were exaggerated, and grapple with Atlanta resident Ashley Smith's admission that she gave crystal meth to fugitive Brian Nichols.
O-DeLay-dee-oh-no!: House Majority Leader Tom DeLay temporarily stepped down from his leadership post after being indicted for criminal conspiracy. He is accused of illegally funneling corporate money during the 2002 elections into Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee, a group that he founded.
Liberal heavyweights are probing the indictment's larger implications for the Republican Party. Talking Points Memo's Joshua Micah Marshall has loads of speculation about DeLay's replacement. The Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum opines, "All we need now is a Plame indictment and we'd have the trifecta. Or the pentecta. Or whatever. I can barely keep track of the myriad ethical problems besetting the Republican leadership these days. … If Democrats still can't win in 2006, then we've got serious problems." Juanita, founder of an anti-DeLay site notes, "Even [MSNBC's] Chris Matthews says that DeLay is 'strutting' today. Honey, take from those of us who have known him for decades --- he can strut sitting down!" Outside the Beltway's conservative James Joyner asserts, "DeLay has been under the cloud of various ethics charges for quite some time and it's truly a shame that the House GOP delegation has not dumped him before now."
Some conservatives are still staunchly backing DeLay. At the National Review's blog The Corner, Shannen Coffin, who acknowledges that his wife is a former DeLay staffer, writes, "[T]he Delay indictment is stunning in its lack of particularity. It does not allege a single overt act committed by Tom Delay in support of the alleged conspiracy. It goes beyond flimsy, into the just plain embarrassing category." Political Teen, who claims he's no fan, stresses that DeLay hasn't been convicted of anything and is skeptical of the conspiracy charge. "Why? Because it is easy to convict someone of and [Earle] probably doesn't have any dirt on what [DeLay] really is suspected of." PowerLine commends DeLay's insulting comments against Ronnie Earle, the Democratic district attorney who is prosecuting him. Radio host and blogger Hugh Hewitt predicts: "Soon to follow: Giant MSM coverage, show trial, acquittal and exoneration, DeLay's return to Majority Leader for another 20 years." Liberal blog Media Matters refutes the attacks against Ronnie Earle, in part by pointing out that Earle has gone after considerably more Democrats than Republicans.
Trumped-up violence?: Several sources are reporting that the initial stories about post-Katrina violence in New Orleans were greatly exaggerated. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, officials now claim that "[T]he vast majority of reported atrocities committed by evacuees have turned out to be false, or at least unsupported by any evidence." Another Times-Picayune piece squarely blames Mayor Ray Nagin and Police Superintendent Eddie Compass, who both told wild-eyed stories of rape and murder on Oprah. Compass resigned yesterday.
Conservative blogger Gateway Pundit unveils a damning list of "Katrina folklore vs. fact." It dismisses rumors about cannibalism and asserts that the National Guard responded more quickly to Katrina than to Florida's Hurricane Andrew. "Most city authorities try to downplay reports that make their city look bad," claims conservative Mark of The Truth According to Mark. "Not Mayor Nagin. Early on he was quoted as saying that the death toll would be 10,000 or more. What was his source for this? He made it up." Conservative trial lawyer Honza Prchal agrees. "New Orleans' trauma was overblown (pardon the pun) after all. If government doesn't destroy it, it should recover nicely, and it may even be less corrupt this time around," he writes at Pro's and Cons. Others target the press. "The headline itself ('Some Reports of N.O. Violence Exaggerated'), though arguably accurate, is walking around what the real headline should be ('Reports of Violence in N.O. Were Bad Journalism Because They Were Untrue')," writesI Ain't Got No Journal's Bucknekid, a fiction writer.
Read more about reports of exaggerated violence in New Orleans.
Angel-meth: Ashley Smith is famous for convincing Brian Nichols, who held her hostage for seven hours in March after embarking on a shooting spree that began at an Atlanta courthouse, to turn himelf in. He is accused of killing four people. While Smith had previously emphasized that she persuaded Nichols to release her by talking about God, in her new book, Unlikely Angel, she discloses that she also gave him crystal meth.
On Nobody's Business, libertarian journalist Rogier van Bakel is glad that Smith won't be penalized for possessing the meth, but asks, "Would she also have avoided prosecution if she hadn't so expertly played the religion card — if she'd hadn't infused her tale with lots of Jesusy goodness, and had instead been your average profane, non-devout junkie?" Others are equally cynical. "[S]he made it seem like reading spiritual passages from a self-help book saved her... you would think she would have mentioned the 'oh, and i also gave him drugs' part of the story sooner. - maybe the sales for that book 'the purpose driven life' wouldnt have been so high?" wondersConstantstate.
"I still say he knew this woman beforehand," insists over3Owithabrain on Republican site Free Republic."He was jonesing for drugs and on the lam and he knew where to find them. Her story was full of holes then as it is now. She help him hide a car when she could have called the cops, gave him meth and made him pancakes. He surrendered because he wanted to, not because she converted him. A nice tale was spun by two junkies."
Read more about the Ashley Smith revelations.