George Graham

How Hidden Hands Pull the Strings in Washington

A few blogs back I peeked behind the curtains in Washington and found a puppeteer named Grover Norquist pulling the strings. He is the head of a lobbying organization dedicated to protecting the rich from taxation, and he has persuaded nearly every Republican member of Congress to sign a no-tax pledge.

This pledge is one of the main stumbling blocks to a debt ceiling deal.

Click here to refresh your memory.

But from what I’ve been reading lately, Norquist is not the only power behind the throne.

Apparently, the Republicans in Washington are cowering before clowns like Rush Limbaugh and Erik Erickson.

Here’s how Salon’s Alex Pareene describes the pathetic collapse of the Republican leadership:

A lot of people were alarmed Monday – with good reason – to learn that the House Republicans were relying on radio entertainer Rush Limbaugh and vile blogger Erick Erickson to tell them what to do about this whole debt ceiling thing. As everyone in Washington went into separate rooms to write their own horrible debt ceiling plans (my one-step approach: NO new revenue, ten zillion dollars in cuts to non-defense spending, Social Security replaced by personalized/market-based packs of roving hyenas), Erickson reported that he’s been taking “call after call” from unnamed “members of the United States Congress,” all of whom were seeking his approval, because this dumb, disingenuous hack is who the Republican Party is actually accountable to.

Meanwhile, John Boehner, the speaker of the House, gave his five-step “two-step” plan to famous shouty radio guy Rush Limbaugh, before he showed it to¬†his own conference. (Of course, his conference is full of morons and extremists, many of whom wouldn’t have known what to think about Boehner’s plan until Uncle Rush explained it, so this was more shrewd than disrespectful.)

This is, obviously, a Bad Sign For America. Erick Erickson and Rush Limbaugh are, at best, entertainers — they’re certainly not policy experts — and at worst (and they are very often at their worst) they are extreme demagogues, stirring up shit for fun and attention, always more interested in tribal victory against their enemies on “the Left” than they are in governing, or doing anything at all to improve America beyond constantly crowing about how much better it used to be.

I knew about Limbaugh (photo above, right), of course. Who doesn’t? The obnoxious loudmouth is a huge blot on America’s political landscape, too big and ugly to ignore. And I am well aware of the tyranny he exercises over Republican politicians.

But Erickson?

I had to Google this guy as the name didn’t ring a bell.

Among other things, such as the fact that Erickson (photo above, left) grew up in Dubai and runs a right-wing-crazy web site called Red State, I learned that he has “a long history of incendiary, sexist, and racially charged statements.”

He urged voters to “march down” and “beat” lawmakers “to a bloody pulp” and he called former Supreme Court Justice David Souter a “goat f—-ing child molester.”

Click here to learn more.

I also found out that this dangerous loon was recruited by CNN to analyze American politics. To me that says a lot about the decline of CNN – and the state of American “mainstream” media.

In a situation like this, where the democratic system has so clearly been perverted, it seems to me that President Obama has no choice but to invoke the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and raise the debt ceiling by executive order.

The Republicans will accuse him of being a dictator, of course, and they will do everything in their power to retaliate.

But it is not Barack Obama who is the “dictator”; it is some enormously wealthy and powerful individual – or individuals. This “person or persons unknown” (as they say in police reports) wrangled control of the Tea Party, the media and the Republican leadership. It might be the Koch Brothers. I see their fingerprints everywhere in the right-wing propaganda network.

Click here for an example.

Or it could be someone – or some group – even richer and more powerful than the Kochs.

The way things are, America’s only chance for survival as a democracy is for the president to confront the hidden forces that have grabbed hold of the levers of power and appear to be driving this country over a cliff so they can rule over the wreckage.


About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for


  • People don’t go to jail for being in debt. They go to jail for ignoring their responsibilities. While I am no fan of credit card companies and their shady business practices, I also don’t believe in avoiding personal responsibility. If you can’t pay then there is bankruptcy. Stuff happens to otherwise responsible people all the time. The difference is responsible people stand up and face their problems and work towards a solution.

  • So you both believe that bankrupts should be jailed? Incredible!
    The debt is set up so that the credit card companies take a risk that you will default, that is why they were allowed to charge fees, penalties, change your interest rates and advise you of their policies in arcane, obscure legalise. No one understood their agreement. During the boom Credit Card companies made most of their profits from ancillary fees, they were raking in the money. The agreement doesn’t say you can be jailed if you default, who would ever incur debt under those circumstances. I don’t admire people who once they see what is happening continue to charge, but perhaps the CC co. should have cancelled the cards, instead of continuing to allow people to use their cards?