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Friday, January 29, 2010

Durbin: Democrats would be ‘on trial for treason’ if we adopted GOP tactics

By Raw Story The Democrats' second ranking senator on Thursday bemoaned Republicans' attempts to stall and derail the Democratic agenda, saying they had been able to cast protest votes "with impunity" and positing that Republican tactics were almost treasonous.

Speaking to reporters, including one at The Hill, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said his party's members would face public wrath if they used Republicans' Senate tactics.

"Some of the votes [Republicans] cast -- we would be on trial for treason if we had voted against defense appropriations in the midst of a war," he told reporters on his way to the Senate chamber. Durbin was referring to GOP members who tried to block the defense bill out of concern that a hate crimes bill was attached to it.

"They did it with impunity," Durbin lamented.

But Durbin on Thursday [said] the idea that Democrats ought to let legislation fail in order to prove that Republicans are to blame for stalled reforms [was unwise]

"If we don't have 59 votes, and that is a requirement [to pass legislation], we're not letting them fail," Durbin said, suggesting it was not Democrats who were responsible for any delays.

Durbin is the party's Democratic whip, responsible for corralling votes on important legislative issues.

Democrats are in political hot water after losing a sixtieth vote in the Senate which has prevented them from moving forward on health care reform legislation.

M.C.L comment: If the Dems pulled any of this crap during the post 9.11 exploitation era of the Bush White House the Democrats would be lucky to have half their members returning after the mid term or presidential elections. And let's not forget the Republicans wanted to do away with the filibuster when the Democrats threaten to block Samuel Alito confirmation.. The Democrats have to relay the message hey we would like to give you health care but you got some punk ass Republicans blocking it.. OK I wouldn't use punk ass.

Media conservatives falsely claim Obama's Supreme Court criticism was "unprecedented"

From Media Matters Right-wing media are attacking President Obama for his criticism of the recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC during the State of the Union, calling it "unprecedented" and accusing the president of "intimidation." In fact, Obama's comments were not "unprecedented"; Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush have previously used the State of the Union to criticize judicial actions, including those of the Supreme Court. Right-wing media accuse Obama of "intimidation" in "unprecedented" Supreme Court criticism Drudge: "INTIMIDATION: Obama directly condemns Supreme Court; Dems cheer." On January 27, the Drudge Report linked to a CBSNews.com video clip of the State of the Union speech with the following headline: intimidation Napolitano: Obama's "attempt to intimidate" the Supreme Court has "never happened before." On the January 29 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Andrew Napolitano said that the president's comments regarding the Supreme Court decision had "never happened before" and that he had "insulted them to their faces." He claimed that the Supreme Court justices were "guests" at the State of the Union and that "in that environment, [Obama] attacks them in a position where they cannot respond, and then attempts to intimidate them by inducing members of Congress to stand up and applaud, suggesting that he's right and they're wrong." Krauthammer: Obama's comment "I believe is unprecedented." On the January 28 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer said, "President Obama attacked the Supreme Court at the State of the Union address, which I believe is unprecedented." He called the comments "a direct attack" and "a breach of etiquette which shouldn't have happened." In fact, presidents have a history of directly addressing and criticizing the Supreme Court Harding criticized the Supreme Court for overturning the Child Labor Law in his 1922 State of the Union. In 1922, the Supreme Court found the Child Labor Law of 1919 to be unconstitutional. In his State of the Union address, President Warren G. Harding criticized the court for putting "this problem outside the proper domain of Federal regulation until the Constitution is so amended as to give the Congress indubitable authority. I recommend the submission of such an amendment." Reagan criticized the court for its ruling on school prayer. In his 1988 State of the Union address, Reagan expressed his displeasure with the court's recent ruling on school prayer: And let me add here: So many of our greatest statesmen have reminded us that spiritual values alone are essential to our nation's health and vigor. The Congress opens its proceedings each day, as does the Supreme Court, with an acknowledgment of the Supreme Being. Yet we are denied the right to set aside in our schools a moment each day for those who wish to pray. I believe Congress should pass our school prayer amendment. Reagan directly attacked the Supreme Court for Roe v. Wade. In his 1984 State of the Union address, Reagan attacked the 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, during a discussion on abortion: And while I'm on this subject, each day your Members observe a 200-year-old tradition meant to signify America is one nation under God. I must ask: If you can begin your day with a member of the clergy standing right here leading you in prayer, then why can't freedom to acknowledge God be enjoyed again by children in every schoolroom across this land? [...] During our first 3 years, we have joined bipartisan efforts to restore protection of the law to unborn children. Now, I know this issue is very controversial. But unless and until it can be proven that an unborn child is not a living human being, can we justify assuming without proof that it isn't? No one has yet offered such proof; indeed, all the evidence is to the contrary. We should rise above bitterness and reproach, and if Americans could come together in a spirit of understanding and helping, then we could find positive solutions to the tragedy of abortion. Bush condemned "activist judges" who are "redefining marriage by court order." In his 2004 State of the Union address, Bush criticized "activist judges" who, according to him, were "redefining marriage by court order": Activist judges, however, have begun redefining marriage by court order, without regard for the will of the people and their elected representatives. On an issue of such great consequence, the people's voice must be heard. If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process. Our Nation must defend the sanctity of marriage. The outcome of this debate is important, and so is the way we conduct it. The same moral tradition that defines marriage also teaches that each individual has dignity and value in God's sight.

Boehner Feigns Ignorance That His GOP Retreat Is Attended By Goldman Sachs, Other Corporate Lobbyists

By Lee Fang

This weekend, Republican leaders will convene at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore to plot strategy, socialize, and plan both legislative and campaign themes for the year. Yesterday morning, ThinkProgress caught up with House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH), who confirmed that the Congressional Institute — a nonprofit run by Republican corporate lobbyists — is sponsoring the retreat. Normally, such lobbyist-sponsored soirĂ©es would be illegal under House ethics rules. But by forming an ostensibly nonpartisan educational front called the Congressional Institute, lobbyists are able to skirt any such oversight. However, Boehner told ThinkProgress that he did not know if any lobbyists would be present at the retreat:

TP: For your retreat this weekend, is the Congressional Institute attending or sponsoring at all?

BOEHNER: They’ve always sponsored retreats for both Democrats and Republicans.

TP: Are any of their lobbyists attending this weekend?

BOEHNER: I don’t know. [...] I said I don’t know.

Watch it:

Boehner is wrong when he claims that the Congressional Institute sponsors Democratic retreats. According to the Politico, House Democratic retreats are not paid for by any special interest funds or the lobbyist-run Congressional Institute.

To fact-check Boehner’s sheepish reply that he simply didn’t know if lobbyists would be at the retreat, I visited the Renaissance hotel in Baltimore yesterday afternoon. Upon arriving at the front desk, I spoke to Patrick Deitz, a staff assistant for the Congressional Institute, who confirmed that Congressional Institute board member Michael Johnson was upstairs at the retreat, and that Dan Meyer, another board member, was on his way. Johnson, a lobbyist at the OB-C Group, touts himself as a “Republican heavyweight” whose firm represents the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, JP Morgan Chase, and the health insurance giant WellPoint. Meyer, a longtime Republican operative and chairman of the Congressional Institute, works for the Duberstein Group, where he represents BP, Goldman Sachs, HealthNet, and AHIP, the umbrella trade group for the health insurance industry. Meyer’s colleague at his lobbying firm, Steve Champlin, urged insurance industry executives last year to fight ruthless to kill health reform, proclaiming, don’t “give comfort to the enemy who is down.”

After informing Deitz and other Congressional Institute staffers that I work for ThinkProgress and wanted to interview some of the lobbyists in attendance, another staffer, named Mary, told me to leave the building or else I would be arrested. Mary, who refused to give her business card or last name, told Deitz not to tell me his last name either. During the course of the conversation with Congressional Institute staffers, a gaggle of men dressed in business attire discussed technology policy behind me. One of them had a name tag that read John Sampson; who according to his LinkedIn profile is the chief lobbyist for Microsoft.

Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that ThinkProgress will be able to attend, or even approach the building, for the lobbyist-organized GOP retreat. If we could, we might witness quite a reunion. Many of the lobbyists running the Congressional Institute are former top staffers to Newt Gingrich, who is addressing the gathering. Here is a picture of Congressional Institute board members Meyer and Arne Christenson — now a lobbyist for American Express — plotting strategy for Gingrich back in 1995.

Responding to the State of the Union, Boehner was quick to attack the administration for supposedly lacking transparency. But for a retreat planning public policy, Boehner apparently prefers to keep the corporate lobbyists involved behind closed doors — and even refuses to acknowledge their attendance.

Palin On Whether She Will Still Speak At ‘Scammy’ Tea Party Convention: ‘You Betcha!’

By Ben Armbruster

Tea Party activists and loyalists have recently criticized the National Tea Party Convention set to take place in Nashville, TN next month, balking at the expensive ticket prices and the fact that the “scammy” event is for-profit. “That’s not what the tea party is about,” said one local Tea Party leader. After reports spread about the controversy, the convention began to unravel, as featured speakers Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) decided to drop out.

Sarah Palin is also billed for a keynote speaking slot at the event. She will reportedly receive $115,000 for the appearance, and last night on Fox News, Palin said she has no intention of abandoning the convention:

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you intend to speak? And there’s the controversy about you getting paid. What’s your thought?

PALIN: Oh, you betcha I’m going to be there. I’m going to speak there because there are people traveling from many miles away to hear what that tea party movement is all about and what that message is that should be received by our politicians in Washington. I’m honored to get to be there.

Palin said she won’t “personally gain from being there” and will donate the speaking fee to “the cause” (although she did not say if her PAC is part of that “cause”). Later in the segment, Palin argued that the GOP and the Tea Party movement “need to merge” in order to prevent “divisions” and “divisiveness.” Watch it:

Perhaps Palin thinks the Tea Party and the GOP “need to merge” because far right wingers and teabaggers alike have attacked the former Alaska governor for endorsing Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) re-election campaign.

But it’s unclear whether such a merger can ever take place. Just yesterday, RNC chair Michael Steele said he does not want to “co-opt” the movement. And one controversial Tea Party leader recently complained that the RNC is ignoring him. “I’ve called them, lots of times. I called them this morning. I called them yesterday. It’s like they ignore you as they try to figure out a strategy on how to defeat you,” he said.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Myths and falsehoods about the deficit

From Media Matters
SUMMARY: In recent months, media figures have advanced a litany of false and dubious claims regarding deficits and public debt. In addition to promoting the false narrative that portrays Republicans as responsible budget stewards and Democrats as fiscally reckless, these claims advance the argument that the administration should cut spending and focus on balancing the budget in the short term, a position rejected by numerous economists who advocate for continued stimulus spending.

Myth: Obama is to blame for the 2009 deficit

Myth: Health care reform is too expensive, given the deficit

Myth: Wars, tax cuts don't count toward current deficit and debt projections

Myth: Deficit reduction would help to create jobs

Myth: Obama is to blame for the 2009 deficit

In criticizing the deficit, media figures including Dick Morris, Eric Bolling, Karl Rove, and Glenn Beck have attributed the entire deficit for fiscal year 2009 to President Obama. In fact, only a small portion of the fiscal year 2009 deficit is due to Obama's policies; in January, before he took office or signed any legislation, the Congressional Budget Office projected that based on policies set under Bush and economic conditions at the time, the deficit for fiscal year 2009 would reach $1.2 trillion.

FACT: Majority of FY 2009 deficit attributed to Bush policies

$1.2 trillion of $1.4 trillion deficit was already projected before Bush left office. The CBO projected on January 7, 2009, that, including spending authorized under the Bush administration for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and government takeovers of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the deficit would total $1.2 trillion. According to the CBO, the actual FY 2009 deficit was $1.4 trillion.

NY Times: Obama policies are "responsible for only a sliver of the deficits." According to a budget analysis done by The New York Times, "Mr. Obama's main contribution to the deficit is his extension of several Bush policies, like the Iraq war and tax cuts for households making less than $250,000. Such policies -- together with the Wall Street bailout, which was signed by Mr. Bush and supported by Mr. Obama -- account for 20 percent" of the increase between the FY2008 and FY2009 budget deficit estimates. The New York Times analysis also stated that 70 percent of the increase is due to a combination of economic hardships, including "the fact that both the 2001 recession and the current one reduced tax revenue, required more spending on safety-net programs and changed economists' assumptions about how much in taxes the government would collect in future years" and "new legislation signed by Mr. Bush ... like his tax cuts and the Medicare prescription drug benefit."

Myth: Health care reform is too expensive, given the deficit

Media figures including Fox News' Stuart Varney, Bill Hemmer, and Charles Krauthammer and CBS News' Nancy Cordes have advanced the false claim that health care reform proposals that were passed by the House and Senate would exacerbate the deficit and debt. However, the most recent CBO analyses of the health care reform bills estimate that the legislation would actually reduce deficits by more than $100 billion through 2019 and would continue to reduce deficits in the subsequent decade.

FACT: CBO projected Senate, House health bills would reduce deficit

CBO: Senate health care reform bill yields "a net reduction in federal deficits of $132 billion" over 10 years. From the CBO's December 19, 2009, cost estimate of the Senate bill incorporating the manager's amendment:

CBO and JCT estimate that, on balance, the direct spending and revenue effects of enacting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act incorporating the manager's amendment would yield a net reduction in federal deficits of $132 billion over the 2010-2019 period.

CBO expects bill to continue reducing deficit during decade after 2019. CBO also estimated on December 20, 2009, that the Senate bill will continue to reduce the deficit beyond the 10-year budget window that ends in 2019 "with a total effect during that decade that is in a broad range between one-quarter percent and one-half percent of GDP."

CBO also estimated the House health care reform bill will result in deficit reductions through 2019 and in the subsequent decade. From a November 6, 2009, CBO estimate:

According to CBO and JCT's assessment, enacting H.R. 3962 would result in a net reduction in federal budget deficits of $109 billion over the 2010-2019 period (see Table 1) [this estimate was later updated to $138 billion over the same period]. In the subsequent decade, the collective effect of its provisions would probably be slight reductions in federal budget deficits. Those estimates are all subject to substantial uncertainty.

Myth: Wars, tax cuts don't count toward current deficit and debt projections

In reporting on deficit concerns, media figures and outlets, including The Washington Times, have attacked Obama's fiscal record while ignoring the effect that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Bush tax cuts have had on the current fiscal environment.

FACT: Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush tax cuts contributed significantly to debt

CRS: "Congress has approved a total of about $944 billion" for operations "initiated since the 9/11 attacks" through the end the 2009 fiscal year. In a September 2009 report titled "The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11," the Congressional Research Service (CRS) stated, "Congress has approved a total of about $944 billion for military operations, base security, reconstruction, foreign aid, embassy costs, and veterans' health care for the three operations initiated since the 9/11 attacks." CRS added, "This $944 billion total covers all appropriations approved by Congress for FY2001 to meet war needs through FY2009," which ended September 30, 2009.

Krugman: tax cuts cost added "more than $2 trillion in debt"; Iraq war "has cost at least $700 billion." In an August 27, 2009, blog post, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman stated, "There were two big-ticket Bush policies. One was the tax cuts, which cost around $1.8 trillion in revenue; add in interest costs, and we're presumably talking about more than $2 trillion in debt. The other was the Iraq War, which has cost at least $700 billion, and will cost more before we finally extract ourselves." Krugman continued:

Without these gratuitous drains on the budget, it seems fair to assert that we'd be coming into this economic crisis with a federal debt around 20 percent of GDP ($2.8 trillion) smaller than we are. And that, in turn, means that we'd be looking at projected net debt in 2019 of around 50 percent of GDP, not 70.

And that would definitely not be a scary number. Net federal debt was 49 percent of GDP in 1993, at the end of the Reagan-Bush years; Bill Clinton did move to reduce that number, and succeeded, but the nation wasn't facing imminent crisis.

Baker: Stock market, housing crashes, and wars "explain the vast majority of the deterioration in the budget situation in the last decade." Criticizing an NPR interview with David Walker, president of the Peter G. Peterson Institute, economist Dean Baker stated in a January 11 American Prospect blog post, "Walker explained the shift from the large surpluses at the end of the Clinton era to the deficits the country is now seeing without reference to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Iraq that have already added more than $1 trillion to the debt, the housing crash which has increased the debt by more than $1 trillion in 2009 alone, and the stock market crash which through [sic] the country into recession in 2001 and cost the country more than $500 billion in capital gains tax revenue." Baker added:

While these developments explain the vast majority of the deterioration in the budget situation in the last decade, they were not mentioned once by either Walker or the reporter conducting the interview. Instead, Walker blamed an irresponsible Congress that allowed the money to burn a hole in its pocket. Even if it does not fit reality, this story fits with Mr. Walker's political agenda of creating a special commission that will issue a proposal to cut the deficit that is fast-tracked so that it does not follow normal congressional procedures.

NY Times: 33 percent of "$2 trillion swing" from surplus to deficits attributed to Bush policies "like his tax cuts and the Medicare prescription drug benefit. A June 9, 2009, New York Times article reported that 33 percent of the "$2 trillion swing" from surpluses projected by the CBO in 2001 to deficits "stems from" legislation signed by Bush. The Times added: "That legislation, like his tax cuts and the Medicare prescription drug benefit, not only continue to cost the government but have also increased interest payments on the national debt."

CBPP: "the tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the economic downturn together explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years." In a December 16, 2009, analysis of federal deficits, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities stated, "Some critics charge that the new policies pursued by President Obama and the 111th Congress generated the huge federal budget deficits that the nation now faces. In fact, the tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the economic downturn together explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years." CBPP included the following chart illustrating various factors' relative effects on current and projected deficits:

deficits

Myth: Deficit reduction would help to create jobs

In attacking Obama over deficits and the unemployment rate, media conservative have argued -- in the words of Fox News contributor Stephen Moore -- that "getting people back to work should be priority number one," but "we've got to start worrying about the debt, about these huge deficits," adding that the current deficit and projected debt are "having a very negative effect on people's psychology about where this economy is headed" [Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, 12/17/09] (from the Nexis database). Likewise, Rove stated that Obama "could have a real option to create jobs, and that would be to take tough actions that would actually stimulate small businesses and bigger enterprises to actually go out and create jobs," while citing deficits as a factor that signals bad news for "companies and their businesses and their chances to make a profit" [On the Record, 12/4/09] (from Nexis). Historical evidence undermines the suggestion that the administration should focus on deficit reduction in order to create jobs, and economists have said current deficits are helping the economy.

FACT: Past efforts to address deficits before full recovery cited for further economic decline; economists say deficits are helping

Prominent economists: Unemployment rate rose after FDR attempted to balance the budget during Great Depression. Responding to numerous conservative media figures, who criticized Obama's earlier proposals for large-scale stimulus spending by denouncing Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal policies as ineffective or damaging, several prominent economists argued that the unemployment rate rose in 1938 because Roosevelt did not go far enough in pursuing New Deal stimulus policies and because his attempts to balance the budget hindered recovery.

Krugman: "deficits are actually helping the economy." In an August 27, 2009, New York Times column, Krugman stated, "Right now deficits are actually helping the economy. In fact, deficits here and in other major economies saved the world from a much deeper slump. The longer-term outlook is worrying, but it's not catastrophic." He further stated:

Consider what would have happened if the U.S. government and its counterparts around the world had tried to balance their budgets as they did in the early 1930s. It's a scary thought. If governments had raised taxes or slashed spending in the face of the slump, if they had refused to rescue distressed financial institutions, we could all too easily have seen a full replay of the Great Depression.

As I said, deficits saved the world.

In fact, we would be better off if governments were willing to run even larger deficits over the next year or two.

Baker: "If the economy remains weak, the deficit will remain a serious burden no matter how much we raise taxes or cut spending." In a March 25, 2009, Huffington Post blog post, Baker stated:

There is no guarantee that President Obama's policies will be successful in restoring strong growth, but they are clearly a step in the right direction. If we have strong growth, then our deficits will be manageable. If the economy remains weak, the deficit will remain a serious burden no matter how much we raise taxes or cut spending.

Someone has to tell the deficit hawks that their blow-up doll is not real. The issue is the economy, not the deficit.

Economics professor DeLong: 1937-38 interruption in recovery attributed to decision to "try to move the budget toward balance." In a November 17, 2008, post on his personal blog, University of California-Berkeley economics professor Brad DeLong wrote, "Private investment recovered in a very healthy fashion as Roosevelt's New Deal policies took effect. The interruption of the Roosevelt Recovery in 1937-1938 is, I think, wel [sic] understood: Roosevelt's decision to adopt more 'orthodox' economic policies and try to move the budget toward balance and the Federal Reserve's decision to contract the money supply by raising bank reserve requirements provide ample explanation of that downturn."

Does Rove Think Reagan And Bush Were ‘Weak’ For Discussing The ‘Situation’ They Inherited?

By Matt Corley (sorry about that)

In his State of the Union address last night, President Obama described the dire state of affairs he faced as he entered office a year ago. “One year ago, I took office amid two wars, an economy rocked by a severe recession, a financial system on the verge of collapse, and a government deeply in debt,” said Obama.

Conservatives, who often complain that Obama blames former President George W. Bush too much, did not appreciate Obama’s recitation of the facts. “The blaming of the past administration is pathetically unpresidential,” blogged National Review’s Kathryn Jean Lopez last night. On Fox News this morning, Brian Kilmeade asked former Bush adviser Karl Rove if it’s “good politics” to “bring up your predecessor and talk about your first year in office while looking back at his last year in office?” “No, I think it makes you look weak,” replied Rove. Watch it:

By Rove’s logic, conservative icon Ronald Reagan and his former boss George W. Bush were also “weak.” As Media Matters’ Matt Gertz noted last night, Reagan “devoted significant portions” of his 1982 State of the Union “to attacking President Carter’s administration for ‘the situation at this time last year’”:

To understand the State of the Union, we must look not only at where we are and where we’re going but where we’ve been. The situation at this time last year was truly ominous. [...]

First, we must understand what’s happening at the moment to the economy. Our current problems are not the product of the recovery program that’s only just now getting under way, as some would have you believe; they are the inheritance of decades of tax and tax, and spend and spend. [...]

The only alternative being offered to this economic program is a return to the policies that gave us a trillion-dollar debt, runaway inflation, runaway interest rates and unemployment.

Though it wasn’t technically a State of the Union address, when former President Bush first addressed a joint session of Congress in February 2001, he too cast aspersion on his predecessor’s legacy. “Last year, Government spending shot up 8 percent. That’s far more than our economy grew, far more than personal income grew, and far more than the rate of inflation,” said Bush. “We must take a different path.”

M.C.L comment: First off the bat why isn't Karl Rove isn't trading "favors" for his life in prison? And two the Bush White House and their whores in the right wing press blame Bill Clinton for the recession, heck the right wing even had a movie on ABC blaming the Clinton White House for 9.11 .

It seems our friends on the right always have memory issues when it comes to Bush blaming Bill Clinton for his failures while whining about President Obama who left the mess for him to clean up.

National Tea Party Convention falls apart: Bachmann and Blackburn announce they are pulling out.

By Amanda Terkel Initially, organizers of the National Tea Party Convention, set to take place in Nashville, TN next month, garnered significant press attention for featuring headliners like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), WorldNetDaily founder Joseph Farah, and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. However, Tea Party loyalists began to balk at the expensive price of tickets and the fact that the venture is for-profit, saying that it smelled “scammy.” Now, both Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Bachmann have decided to drop out. A statement from Bachmann’s communications director:

Due to conflicting advice on whether Congresswoman Bachmann’s participation in the upcoming Tea Party Nation Convention would be in line with the Committee on Standards, Congresswoman Bachmann has decided not to participate in the event. There is uncertainty about how any proceeds from the event may be used, and we must err on the side of caution. Some will want to portray her withdrawal as a repudiation of the Tea Party Movement, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Congresswoman Bachmann remains encouraged by all Americans, regardless of political party, who are concerned about this nation’s future and dwindling prosperity, and continues to be inspired their passion.

As of this posting, the Tea Party Convention website still has both lawmakers listed on its “speakers” page.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lobbyists For Foreign Corporations Begin Fight To Ensure Foreign Money Can Influence American Elections

By Lee Fang Last week, the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision invalidated a sixty-three year-old ban on corporate money in federal elections. The ruling gives corporations essentially the same rights as individuals in their ability to spend freely on political advertising, even if those advertisements explicitly advocate the election or defeat of a federal candidate. One consequence of this decision is that foreign corporations with U.S.-subsidiaries are likely to be able to now spend unlimited amounts on American elections.

Congressional Democrats, led by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), are drafting legislation to curb the influence of foreign corporations and foreign governments following the decision. However, the National Journal reported today that corporate lobbyists representing foreign corporations are already organizing to defeat such a proposal. The Organization for International Investment, a trade group representing foreign banks, oil companies, and other foreign corporations operating in the United States, “lashed out” at Van Hollen’s proposals. “The concern over foreign influence in our political system is a red herring,” said Nancy McLernon, the head of OII.

McLernon — who previously worked for Citizens for a Sound Economy, a stealth “grassroots” corporate lobbying group now known as Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks — is wrong to assert that the danger of foreign lobbying is simply a distraction. For instance, Saudi Arabia has already signaled that the progressive effort to build a clean energy American economy is its “biggest threat”:

Saudi Arabia’s economy depends on oil exports so stands to be one of the biggest losers in any pact that curbs oil demand by penalizing carbon emissions. “It’s one of the biggest threats that we are facing,” said Muhammed al-Sabban, head of the Saudi delegation to U.N. talks on climate change and a senior economic adviser to the Saudi oil ministry. [...] Climate talks posed a bigger threat, Sabban said, and subsidies for the development of renewable energy were distorting market economics in the sector, he said.

Presumably because of the Citizens United ruling, Saudi Arabian-owned subsidiaries operating in the United States can now spend unlimited amounts advocating the defeat of candidates who support clean energy legislation. According to a ThinkProgress investigation, foreign-oil backed lobbyists in America are already instigating efforts to kill clean energy legislation. Fortunately, President Obama is expected to address the issue of foreign corporations influencing American elections in his State of the Union address tonight.

Wall Street Bankers And Investors Fund New Media Platform For Gov. Bob McDonnell’s SOTU Response

By Lee Fang

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) will give the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union response tonight. For his speech, McDonnell has prepared an elaborate rally in the Virginia House of Delegates, a website, a live webcast of the event, a live twitter feed, and other social media tools. The online platform to broadcast the speech was launched this morning at “soturesponse.com.”

The website, as well as the rally, is funded by McDonnell’s political action committee, Opportunity Virginia PAC. According to disclosures provided by the Virginia Public Access Project, the vast majority of the money for the PAC has been provided by the financial industry:

Bob McDonnell PAC contributions

When McDonnell opposes Obama’s proposed efforts break up big banks, regulate the financial sector, and impose a financial responsibility fee to financial institutions which helped cause the current recession, it should be noted that the very industry McDonnell is fighting to defend underwrote the platform on which he is speaking, both virtually and in Richmond.

Rep. King Offers Conspiracy To Support O’Keefe: ‘Seems Really Convenient That This Would Happen Now’

By Lee Fang On Monday, conservative activist James O’Keefe(R-douchebag) and three others were arrested by the FBI and “charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony.” The gang was caught in what appeared to be an attempt wiretap Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) office in New Orleans. O’Keefe, who had been trained by several well-funded conservative institutes and had been working for right-wing blogger Andrew Breitbart, gained notoriety for dressing up as a pimp and videotaping ACORN staffers offering to help the supposed pimp and his prostitutes secure funding for a brothel. Last October, 31 House Republicans introduced a congressional resolution honoring O’Keefe for his efforts against ACORN. Rep. Steve King (R-IA), one of the resolution’s cosponsors, has fought to ban funding to an ACORN affiliate and has been one of O’Keefe’s most vocal fans. At a press conference, ThinkProgress asked King if he would withdraw his support for the resolution, given news of O’Keefe’s arrest. But King dodged the question repeatedly, at one point defending O’Keefe, then later suggesting his resolution praising the conservative activist is frivolous compared to what Congress should be debating right now. At one point, the Iowa congressman floated the possibility of a conspiracy against O’Keefe, noting, “It seems really convenient that this would happen now”: TP: Several of you, and I think some of your colleagues signed onto a resolution honoring James O’Keefe, the conservative activist who was in the news recently because he was caught trying to wiretap Sen. Landreu’s office. KING: you are innocent until proven guilty and it’s off topic so I won’t– [...] You know, I think that — I wanted to dig into that and find out some more details that I could pick up. Some of the behind the scenes information, because it seems really convenient that this would happen now. [...] TP: Congressman King, I’m just trying to figure this out. You pushed an effort to defund ACORN, but at the same time you are saying James O’Keefe is innocent until proven guilty. You’ve already passed judgement on ACORN without a trial. KING: We pass judgment all the time [...] He has been picked up and the allegations are that he committed an act. Now he is innocent until proven guilty. ACORN needs to be investigated. TP: And if Pelosi forced a vote on the O’Keefe resolution would you vote on it. KING: I’d want to see the language. Why would we focus on this? Watch the video produced by Victor Zapanta: It’s odd that King isn’t aware of the O’Keefe resolution’s language seeing that he cosponsored it. Also, while downplaying O’Keefe’s purported attempt to wiretap Landrieu, King brushed off the alleged crime as simply an “act.” If O’Keefe was attempting to wiretap the Senator — a suspicion reported in the press given the fact his cohorts were caught tampering with phones while posing as telephone company employees — he would be accessing private conversations that might deal with Landrieu’s sensitive work on the Homeland Security Committee, which deals with matters of terrorism and national security.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

EXCLUSIVE AUDIO: O'Reilly suggests the CIA should kidnap Pelosi and Reid and waterboard Pelosi

When you go to the media matters check out when Billy compare Haiti to the south side of Chicago.

Why Is Nelson OK With Using Reconciliation For Tax Cuts For Millionaires But Not For Health Care For Americans?

By Zaid Jilani Following the election of Sen. Scott Brown (D-MA) in the Massachussetts special election, Democrats have been discussing ways to pass a comprehensive health care bill that will not be killed by a GOP-led filibuster. One idea that has been floated is for the House to pass the Senate’s health care bill and also immediately amend the bill to make it more progressive and acceptable to members in the House via a reconciliation bill, which requires only a simple majority vote in the Senate to pass.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) rejected this path, telling the Politico that he does not support the reconciliation process and that the health care bill should be broken up and voted on “a piece at a time, as opposed to a comprehensive approach.” He explained, “We’ve tried a comprehensive approach and it’s clear that it won’t be possible.” While Nelson rules reconciliation out of the question for health care, he was singing a different tune in the past. The Nebraska senator has voted in favor of four of the five bills passed through reconciliation since he came to office in 2001, including Bush’s tax cuts for the super-wealthy:

Nelson voted to use reconciliation to pass Bush’s 2001 tax cuts for the wealthy. The senator was one of twelve Democrats who voted for the $1.3 trillion in tax cuts contained in the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, which included billions of dollars of tax cuts for the super-wealthy. [5/26/2001]

Nelson voted to use reconciliation to pass Bush’s follow-up tax cuts for the wealthy in 2003. The senator was one of only two Democrats who voted for the The Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, which contained an additional $330 billion in tax cuts. The tax cuts would not have passed without Nelson’s vote. [5/23/2003]

Nelson voted to use reconciliation to pass an extension of the reduced tax rates on capital gains. The senator was one of three Democrats to vote to shield wealthy investors from an increase in their capital gains tax with a vote in the affirmative for the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 . [5/11/2006]

Nelson voted to use reconciliation to pass a bill helping students afford college tuition. The senator joined the rest of the Democratic caucus to vote for the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007 [9/7/2007]

Given the fact that three out of four of the reconciliation bills Nelson has supported mostly benefited the wealthiest Americans, the logical question to ask is why the reconciliation process he has supported in the past is apparently appropriate for siphoning wealth to the richest Americans but not to get health care for tens of millions of Americans who lack it.

Update Sens. Bayh (D-IN) and Lincoln (D-AR) have also said they are against reconciliation. Lincoln has previously voted for a reconciliation bill that gave massive tax cuts for the wealthy, while Bayh voted for the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007, which was passed via reconciliation. M.C.L. Comment: I've been telling people since the start of this debate while President Obama should have been more vocal on his signature issue health care, you got these corporate Democrats who are looking out for their own best interest.. Remember folks Democrats aren't like the Republicans when it come to loyalty, no matter how crappy and how toxic Bush policies were the Republicans got in front of a camera and carry water for the policy Bush was pushing. Democrats on the other hand think about what ways not to piss off the mythical middle of the road voter, so they run away from their leader and let him to fight off the right wing by himself.

Fox News Devastated Over Arrest Of ACORN Pimp, Says The Story Probably Needs ‘A Lot Of Context’

By Think Progress Fox News has been one of the biggest supporters of James O’Keefe, who is infamous for dressing up as a pimp and videotaping ACORN staffers offering to help the supposed pimp and his prostitutes secure funding for a brothel. The network constantly replayed coverage from his operation. In September, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace named O’Keefe his “Power Player of the Week,” calling him an “undercover reporter” and a “fascinating character.”

Yesterday, the FBI arrested O’Keefe and three others — “charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony” — saying that they were plotting to wiretap Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office (D-LA). One of the other men, Robert Flanagan, is the son of William Flanagan, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana. Two of the men “dressed as telephone company employees” and showed up to Landrieu’s New Orleans office, saying they had to “fix phone problems.” O’Keefe was already there and was “positioning his cell phone in his hand to videotape the operation”:

After being asked, the staffer gave Basel access to the main phone at the reception desk. The staffer told investigators that Basel manipulated the handset. He also tried to call the main office phone using his cell phone, and said the main line wasn’t working. Flanagan did the same.

They then told the staffer they needed to perform repair work on the main phone system and asked where the telephone closet was located. The staffer showed the men to the main General Services Administration office on the 10th floor, and both went in. There, a GSA employee asked for the men’s credentials, after which they stated they left them in their vehicle. The U.S. Marshal’s Service apprehended all four men shortly thereafter.

Fox News aired a report about the arrests shortly after the news broke. However, reporter Tim Vaughn tried to downplay the news:

VAUGHN: [It's a] very weird story that probably needs a lot of context and a lot of looking into, which is what we’re going to do here. I just wanted to get it on the record with it right now.

SHEP SMITH: So, they’re saying basically, they’re in there — It sounds as if what they’re saying is, they’re looking for some ACORN hanky panky and they try to tap into Mary Landrieu’s telephone to get it.

VAUGHN: That could be one way of looking at it, yes.

Watch it:

Ironically, at the end of the Power Player segment in September, Wallace said, “O’Keefe says he wants to do more undercover films, and he has some targets in mind. He says his friends always tell him the next sting will never work.” “I disagree with them,” replied O’Keefe. “I think that I’ll come up with a new strategy and I’ll get them to say yes.” Looks like O’Keefe’s friends were right.

Update Andrew Breitbart's site Big Government, which helped make O'Keefe a star and pays him to be a contributor, claims that it had no knowledge of what the four individuals were up to. Michelle Malkin writes, "They are, of course, presumed innocent until proven guilty. But for now, let it be a lesson to aspiring young conservatives interested in investigative journalism: 'Know your limits. Know the law. Don’t get carried away. And don’t become what you are targeting.'" Hot Air blogger Ed Morrissey said, "Journalists don't tap phones, and if that's what he tried, he's an idiot."
Update The AP reports that a magistrate "set bond at $10,000 each after they made their initial court appearances wearing red prison jumpsuits. None of the defendants commented on the allegations in court. 'It was poor judgment,' Robert Flanagan's lawyer, Garrison Jordan, said in a brief interview outside the courthouse. 'I don't think there was any intent or motive to commit a crime.'"

AZ Sen. candidate Hayworth panders to birthers: ‘We all had to show our birth certificates’ to ‘play football.’

By Andrea Nil

This past weekend, right-wing shock jock and former Arizona Congressman J.D. Hayworth announced he is planning to run against Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for U.S. Senate. In an interview on MSNBC’s Hardball With Chris Matthews this afternoon, Hayworth joined the chorus of far right-wing “birthers” who continue insisting that President Obama may have been born in another country:

MATTHEWS: Are you as far right as the birthers? Are you one of those who believes that the President should have to prove that he’s a citizen of the United States and not an illegal immigrant? Are you that far right?

HAYWORTH: Well, gosh, we all had to bring our birth certificates to show we were who we said we were and we were the age we said we were to play football and youth sports. Shouldn’t we know exactly that anyone who wants to run for public office is a natural born citizen of the United States and is who they say they are? [...]

MATTHEWS: Should the Governor of Hawaii produce evidence that the President is one of us, an American? Do you think that’s a worthy past time for the Governor of Hawaii?

HAYWORTH: No, look…I’m just saying the President should come forward with the information, that’s all. Why should we we depend on the Governor of Hawaii?

Watch it:

However, Obama has in fact, presented a digitally scanned image of his birth certificate that includes a raised seal and the signature stamp of Hawaii state registrar. During the 2008 presidential election, the McCain campaign investigated and dismissed claims that Obama is not a natural born citizen. Nonetheless, stubborn right-wingers have continued incessantly demanding Obama provide a long-form version of his birth certificate. Mother Jones reports that birthers are spending exorbitant amounts in legal fees to pursue this conspiracy.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Van Susteren devotes show to glowing profile of Brown

From Media Matters The January 22 edition of Fox News' On the Record claimed to offer, in host Greta Van Susteren's words, "the inside story" behind Republican Scott Brown's victory in the Massachusetts special Senate election "from people who know him best." But Van Susteren offered an extremely positive view of Brown, broadcast from the gym at the high school he attended and featuring interviews with Brown and the strategist and chief legal counsel for his campaign, as well as Brown's high school basketball coach and "the man credited with getting Scott Brown to join the National Guard." Interview with Brown: "Tell me about your trip to Washington" Jenkins tosses softballs to Brown. In a taped interview with Brown, producer Griff Jenkins asked the following questions: * "Tell me about your trip to Washington. How were you received?" * "You're 41. There's a very important issue, health care, there. What did -- what can you share with about what the other senators spoke to you about with regards to the health care?" * "Senator [Ben] Nelson of Nebraska, we've all heard about the 'Cornhusker kickback.' Are you prepared to go to Washington and tell your now-colleagues like Senator Nelson, 'Hey, we've gotta knock that off?' " * "What's your first priority? When you hit Washington, you're going to hit the ground running. What are the first priorities, I should ask?" * "A lot of reporters, colleagues of mine, have been trying to now define, 'What is a Scott Brown Republican?' I ask you, what's a Scott Brown Republican?" * "Talking about your family, on election night, take me behind the scenes. When did you know you had won? And what was happening?" * "What are you doing now? What are you doing this afternoon?" * "And any indication on when you'll be seated? Did you have any conversations with regards to that?" * "And when you get there, the health care bill, dead on arrival?" * "You clearly understood the anger, the populist sentiment with regards to the things happening in Washington in your own race. When did you really realize that would bring you a victory? And what does it mean for 2010 with other races?" Jenkins: Basketball court site of "one of the earliest episodes, perhaps, of him being somewhat of a leader." After the taped interview, Jenkins appeared with Van Susteren to say, "We're at the Wakefield High School. This is the court where Scott Brown was the co-captain of his basketball team, and one of the earliest episodes, perhaps, of him being somewhat of a leader. He was a quiet student, you know, didn't speak out a lot, but was apparently a driven athlete." Van Susteren responded: "And I imagine quite popular. We've seen that magazine cover. I imagine he was quite popular among the other students, especially maybe perhaps the women." Jenkins added, "Full disclosure: We did try and track down his high school sweetheart, but we weren't able to do so." Gym scoreboard displayed Brown's margin of victory. The segment ended with a shot of the gym's scoreboard, which displayed a score of 52 to 47 with 20:10 on the clock, presumably representative of Brown's margin of victory over Democrat Martha Coakley in the election: scoreboard Van Susteren, Jenkins provide friendly interviews of Brown friends Program provides interviews with Brown's "wonder boy" campaign strategist, MA state senator who is Brown's "friend." In the following segment, Van Susteren interviewed Massachusetts state Sen. Brian Joyce (D), whom she identified as a "Coakley supporter." During the interview, Joyce stated that he was "a Scott Brown friend," repeatedly called Brown a "good guy," said that Brown was "absolutely" the "type of guy who reaches across the aisle" and "a voice of fiscal moderation." During a later taped segment, Jenkins interviewed Brown campaign strategist Eric Fehrnstrom, who Jenkins said was "dubbed by Senator-elect Brown 'the wonder boy.' " Jenkins added: "I watched him call you that. You were the wonder boy." Jenkins also asked Fehrnstrom, "You traveled with Senator-elect Brown to Washington. Take me behind the scenes there. How did that go? How was he received?" [quotes from the Nexis database] Van Susteren speculated on "the expression on President Obama's face" while calling Brown. Introducing her interview with Brown's "college friend" and campaign chief legal counsel Dan Winslow, Van Susteren said: "OK, check out this historic moment caught on camera. That is Senator-elect Scott Brown moments after winning the election receiving a call from President Obama. You have to wonder the expression on President Obama's face as the realization the filibuster-proof Senate was crumbling had set in." Van Susteren then asked Winslow about "how the phone call happened." Show aired interviews with Brown's high school basketball coach and "the man credited with getting Scott Brown to join the National Guard." After a clip of an interview by Jenkins of retired Col. John Encarnacao, whom Jenkins described as "the man credited with getting Scott Brown to join the National Guard," Van Susteren conducted a phone interview with Ellis Lane, Brown's high school basketball coach. Van Susteren asked him: "Coach, what kind of basketball player was he? Was he any good?" Later, she asked, "Coach, if you rewind back to that time and put yourself back in this gym where I'm standing, would you ever have dreamed that this is where Scott Brown would have ended up?" (quotes from Nexis) Van Susteren asked, "How did Senator-elect Brown get the name 'Downtown Scotty Brown'?" Van Susteren concluded the show with clips from Brown's victory speech, which she described as "his first speech as senator-elect," followed by another interview of Winslow, in which she asked him, "How did Senator-elect Brown get the name 'Downtown Scotty Brown'?" Winslow described Brown as a "real American, somebody who has no pretense about him. What you see is what you get." Program devoted to Brown follows On the Record's previous praise of him Jenkins declared Brown "immensely well-liked and trusted." On the January 21 edition of On the Record, Jenkins highlighted the "secret ambitions" of Brown as outlined in his high school yearbook and interviewed "several people that know Scott Brown," including his neighbor, high school coaches, and the mechanic at "the gas station where Scott gets his pickup truck worked on," asking "what does the rest of America need to know" about Brown. At the end, Jenkins stated: "[W]e found that he is certainly immensely well-liked and trusted." During campaign, Fox News gave Brown platform to raise money Brown previously appeared as guest on Van Susteren's show. As Media Matters for America has detailed, Fox News hosted Brown several times prior to his January 19 election, providing him a forum to raise funds, and Fox News hosts and guests encouraged donations to his campaign. Brown was a guest on the January 11 edition of On the Record. M.C.L comment: I'm happy to see that liberal Greta Van Sustern beat back those Scott Brown GOP talking points..

GOP sends fundraising letter disguised as ‘Census’ form

By The Associated Press The Republican Party is seeking input and money from GOP voters — seemingly under the guise of the U.S. Census Bureau.

"Strengthening our Party for the 2010 elections is going to take a massive grass-roots effort all across America. That is why I have authorized a Census to be conducted of every Congressional District in the country," GOP Chairman Michael Steele says in a letter mailed nationwide.

The letter was sent in plain white envelopes marked "Do Not Destroy, Official Document." Labeled "2010 Congressional District Census," the letter uses a capital "C," the same as the Census Bureau. It also includes a "Census Tracking Code."

The letter makes a plea for money and accompanies a form asking voters to identify their political leanings and issues important to them. There are no disclaimers that participation in the GOP effort is voluntary; participation in the government census is required by law. Failure to participate carries a $5,000 fine, though it is rarely enforced.

Sara Sendek, a Republican National Committee spokeswoman, said the letter was not an attempt to mislead voters

"The document clearly indicates that it is an RNC mailer. The purpose of this document is to gather Republican opinion from across the country and raise a little money," Sendek said.

The letter asks political questions, including, "Do you think the record trillion dollar federal deficit the Democrats are creating with their out-of-control spending is going to have disastrous consequences for our nation?" and, "Do you worry that the Obama administration is committed to greatly expanding the government's role in your life?"

Democrats said the letter was part of a deceptive pattern by Republicans. They said it could mislead voters to believe it's part of the nationwide census being conducted this year. The Census Bureau officially begins its head count this week in rural Alaska; the count for the rest of the nation begins in March.

"When you have no new ideas to offer, all you are left with are the deceptive ideas," said Hari Sevugan, a Democratic National Committee spokesman.

U.S. Census Bureau spokesman Michael Cook says he has received several complaints over the past week from voters who believed the letter was misleading. Cook says the agency is still deciding what steps to take.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., asked the Postal Service to investigate complaints about the letters in December and was rebuffed. Ken Currier, manager of government relations for the postal service, said it's clear the document was not from the government. Maloney said she is considering legislation to make it clear such mailings are not allowed.

Among the recipients was Democratic Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, whose letter arrived at the governor's mansion.

"The Republicans have said they want to get a bigger tent," Schweitzer told The Associated Press, "so perhaps they are trying to lure a politician into the Republican Party that can actually balance a budget."

Tea Party Activists Criticize Financing And Cost Of National Convention: It ‘Smells Scammy’

By Ben Armbruster Tea party activists are set to gather next month at the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville, TN with the goal of “bringing the Tea Party Movement leaders together from around the nation.” However, infighting among tea party activist and leaders has already cast a shadow on the inaugural teabagger gala. Much of the controversy surrounds convention “brainchild” Judson Phillips, a Tennessee lawyer who controls the for-profit corporation Tea Party Nation, because of his intention to make money off of the event:

I’m not a socialist. I don’t begrudge people trying to make money, but that’s not what the tea party is about,” said Antonio Hinton of the Knoxville Tea Party. “That convention has nothing to do with the tea party movement, as far as I’m concerned.”

“I think it is a great con of people making money off the passions of others,” RedState’s Erick Erickson told the Washington Independent recently. A Nashville-based tea party activist called Phillips’ Tea Party Nation “dishonest” and that it is “hijacking the tea party movement.” And Politico reported last week that three major sponsors have withdrawn support because of “the convention’s unusual finances.” Other groups followed suit:

American Majority, a leading training outfit for tea party organizers, canceled two planned sessions at the convention and withdrew its sponsorship after learning about the convention’s for-profit structure and the criticisms of Phillips.

Who is this guy? What are his motivations? And what gives him the credibility to try to step in and insert himself as a leader of the movement?” Ned Ryun, president of American Majority, said he started wondering of Phillips.

Besides the issue of Phillips “money making venture,” other tea party activist have balked at the convention’s cost and the fact that Tea Party Nation is paying Sarah Palin $100,000 to attend — a fee that Phillips would not confirm or deny in a recent radio interview. “When I’ve talked to our members, they’ve said this is entirely too expensive,” said Jenny Beth Martin, the national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots. It “smells scammy,” Erickson said, adding, “A $500+ per person fee to a for-profit organization run by people most people have never heard of is neither populist nor accessible for many tea party activists.”

At the same time, Politico adds that some tea party activists are considering staging protests outside the National Tea Party Convention. “It would really look bad for tea parties to be out there protesting the tea party,” said former Tea Party Nation member Anthony Shreeve.

Update On Friday, Fox News' Bret Baier reported on the tea party activist infighting over the national convention.
Update The New York Times reports that the National Precinct Alliance announced yesterday that it will no longer participate in the convention. National director Philip Glass said he was concerned that the Tea Party Nation was "profiteering" and exploiting the tea party movement.

Lieberman: ‘It’s Possible’ I Could Be ‘A Good Old-Fashioned New England Moderate Republican’

By Matt Corley

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) supported Republican John McCain and attacked then-candidate Obama while speaking at the Republican National Committee. Though he currently caucuses with Democrats in the Senate, Lieberman has repeatedly stated that he views running for re-election in 2012 as an option.

In an interview on Connecticut’s Face The State program this weekend, Lieberman once again said that it was “possible” he could run for re-election as a Republican. Noting that “it would be harder, to be honest, to get the nomination in the Democratic party,” Lieberman said that while he is “most likely” to remain an independent, he could see himself as a Republican:

HOST: Could you see yourself being a Republican or is that…

LIEBERMAN: It’s possible.

HOST:…far-fetched.

LIEBERMAN: Yeah, yeah. No, it’s possible. A good old-fashioned New England moderate Republican.

Watch it:

Lieberman has also suggested that he would “support some Republican candidates for Congress or Senate in the elections in 2010.” In a separate part of the interview, Lieberman suggested that he was open to endorsing Republican Linda McMahon in a Senate race against Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal if she wins her primary with former Rep. Rob Simmons (R-CT).

It’s not clear, however, how helpful Lieberman’s support would be for any candidate in the Senate race. A recent Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey found that Lieberman had “a 25 percent approval rating with 67 percent of his constituents giving him bad marks.” To demonstrate how disliked Lieberman is by CT Democrats, PPP notes that “Barack Obama’s approval rating with Connecticut Republicans is higher than Lieberman’s with the state’s Democrats.”

Transcript:

HOST: Should you run again, there are three routes you could take. You could be an independent again.

LIEBERMAN: Yeah.

HOST: You could be a Democrat or even a Republican.

LIEBERMAN: Yeah.

HOST: Let’s talk about these three possibilities.

LIEBERMAN: Right.

HOST: Where do you see yourself going? Is there a way back to become a full-fledged Democrat or is that a bridge burned.

LIEBERMAN: No, I don’t think it’s burned. You know, I’ve been a Democrat all my life. I mean there is a way in which — look, at the beginning of the ‘06 campaign, it was really at the end of ‘05, people working my campaign, interestingly said to me in a private meeting after some polling, you should think about running as an independent. Because it’s going to be real hard in the Democratic primary based on the position I was taking on the Iraq war, which I know it was an unpopular position in the Democratic party, but I felt, it was what I felt was right for our country. So I said, no, you know, I’ve been a Democrat all my life. The party on this issue really doesn’t agree with me, but I’m going to put my confidence in the people and the party and I’m not going to leave, walk away from the party. If they want to kick me out, that’s there decision. That’s obviously what happened. At least they decided not to nominate me again. So, and let me come back to you question. I’d say, I haven’t really focused on it, but I’d say from the get go, anyone of these…it’s good, to paraphrase Mel Brooks, it’s good to be an independent. It gives me latitude. I could run possibly on any of the three. Probably it would be harder, to be honest, to get the nomination in the Democratic party. Not impossible, it’d be harder. But I must tell you that at this moment in our political life, which is so partisan and almost tribal, you know. And it’s not good for the country, not good for our state. I like being an independent, so if you ask me, I’d say that’s probably the most likely of the choices.

HOST: Could you see yourself being a Republican or is that…

LIEBERMAN: It’s possible.

HOST:…far-fetched.

LIEBERMAN: Yeah, yeah. No, it’s possible. A good old-fashioned New England moderate Republican.

Friday, January 22, 2010

GOP Is Overjoyed At The Unprecedented Influence Corporations Will Now Have In Federal Campaigns

From Think Progress During the 2008 presidential campaign, the conservative group Citizens United made a movie critical of Hillary Clinton but was barred from distributing it on local cable systems because federal courts said it “looked and sounded like a long campaign ad, and therefore should be regulated like one.” The Supreme Court then took up the case and in its much-anticipated decision, today ruled 5-4 to allow corporations and unions to spend unlimited funds in support for, or opposition of, federal candidates. The monumental ruling throws out a “a 63-year-old law designed to restrain the influence of big business and unions on elections.

One Republican attorney said that the new ruling basically turns the political landscape into the “Wild Wild West.” Another GOP election lawyer said that the ruling represents “a huge sea-change in campaign finance law. The Court went all the way. It really relieves any restrictions on corporate spending on independent advertising.”

As Common Cause noted, the ruling “will enhance the ability of the deepest-pocketed special interests to influence elections and the U.S. Congress.” U.S. PIRG called it a “shocking burst of judicial activism” that treats corporations “in the same manner as ordinary citizens.” Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21 said the ruling will “create unprecedented opportunities for corporate ‘influence-buying‘ corruption.”

The ruling is a giant win for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the big corporations, which tend to donate heavily to Republicans. Many Republicans have therefore come out and praised today’s decision:

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX): “It is about a nonprofit group’s ability to speak about the public issue. I can’t think of a more fundamental First Amendment issue. … [The ruling could] open up resources that have not previously been available [for Republicans].” [NYT]

Rep. Steve King (R-IA): “The Constitution protects the rights of citizens and employers to express their viewpoints on political issues. Today’s Supreme Court decision affirms the Bill of Rights and is a victory for liberty and free speech.” [Statement]

Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN): “If the freedom of speech means anything, it means protecting the right of private citizens to voice opposition or support for their elected representatives. The fact that the Court overturned a 20-year precedent speaks volumes about the importance of this issue.” [Statement]

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): The court took a step toward “restoring the First Amendment rights [of corporations and unions]. … By previously denying this right, the government was picking winners and losers.” [AP]

RNC Chairman Michael Steele: “Today’s decision by the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. FEC, serves as an affirmation of the constitutional rights provided to Americans under the first amendment. Free speech strengthens our democracy.” [Statement]

Senate Candidate Marco Rubio: “Today’s SCOTUS decision on McCain-Feingold is a victory for free speech.” [Statement]

The Court’s ruling also struck down part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation “that barred union- and corporate-paid issue ads in the closing days of election campaigns.” Sen. Russ Feingold called the Court’s ruling a “terrible mistake,” but pointed out that it “does not affect McCain-Feingold’s soft money ban, which will continue to prevent corporate contributions to the political parties from corrupting the political process.” “The Supreme Court chose to roll back laws that have limited the role of corporate money in federal elections since Teddy Roosevelt was president,” he said. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) reacted similarly, saying he was “disappointed” in the decision.

M.C. L comment: Why wouldn't the Republicans be happy? Now their airhead candidates can win elections with saying little as possible due to the constant whoring from the corporate control media and their non stop ads running down Democrats. It's like playing football where the ref and the score keeper are already against your team.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

After Whining About Being ‘Suppressed,’ Chamber Discloses It Spent $123 Million In Lobbying

By Victor Zapanta Today’s Supreme Court ruling that opens the floodgates to unprecedented political spending by corporations is another major victory for the corporate lobbying giant — the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

In July, the organization declared its support for Citizens United in an amicus brief arguing that there is “no basis for restricting its core First Amendment right to engage in independent electoral advocacy.” In spite of the fact that the U.S. Chamber has topped lobbying spending year after year, the group had the gall to complain to the Supreme Court that its voice is being “suppressed”:

In particular, the electoral advocacy of the Chamber – a not-for-profit corporation – and of millions of its corporate members has been suppressed. This has occurred even though 96% of Chamber members are businesses with fewer than 100 employees, far from the immense aggregations of wealth hypothesized in Austin. Suppression has been imposed even when candidates have directly attacked business interests and when corporations have unique and valuable insight into the likely consequences of electing or defeating particular candidates. Although this Court has protected the ability of corporations to discuss “issues,” that is no substitute for direct and explicit speech about candidates.

After complaining about its influence being “suppressed,” the Chamber just disclosed that it spent a whopping $123 million to influence federal policy in 2009. Of all the corporations and associations spending money in D.C., the U.S. Chamber tops them all. The Chamber admitted to Roll Call that it was not “suppressed,” but rather, was “active in all of the major debates”:

“It shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone because it was an incredibly active year for the president and the economy,” said Tita Freeman, a chamber spokeswoman. “Hence the chamber was active in all of the major debates that impacted the economy and business community.”

Freeman said the big spike in spending in the fourth quarter was due largely to health care, including issue ads, meetings and letter-writing campaigns.

Aside from health care, the chamber listed a slew of other lobbying issues, including energy and climate change legislation, endangered species regulatory processes, executive compensation and travel promotion.

The Chamber isn’t happy with simply influencing Congress and the administration. It wants more — specifically, the opportunity to purchase its own fleet of friendly lawmakers.

As many federal lawmakers and the Obama administration push for cap-and-trade legislation, health care reform, regulatory reform, and corporate tax reform, the U.S. Chamber stands as the most well-funded opposition to progressive change. The group spent $10-$20 million of insurance-industry-provided cash on fighting reform. After Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts, the Chamber was quick to congratulate itself for running television ads in support of the candidate.

Between Brown’s election victory and the Supreme Court ruling, the most anti-reform corporations in the country are circling their wagons and their wallets around the U.S. Chamber and its fight to increase corporate influence in American politics at the expense of the average American. Today’s Citizens United ruling is a gift by the court’s conservative justices to their efforts.

M.C.L comment: This decision was 10 years in the making, I warned folks about voting for Ralph Nader in the 2000 election because you couldn't guarantee that Captain beady eye bastard was a one term president and the dumb ass choices he could make could still impact us years after he slither back to the bar that Karl Rove found him in. And guess what two of Captain Beady eye choices for Supreme Court just allow corporations to flex even more muscles in the political arena.

I'm not sounding the doom that Keith Olbermann did in his special comment, but I'm pretty damn close it makes things four times as hard now because the corporations can buy up more air time to misinform the misinform and fire up the dangerously stupid on the far right.

Can we still have a progressive country? Sure. We have to fight for it and instead of the old liberal reaction of staying home when the Democrats don't do what they supposed to do we have to find people that has the will and the belly to fight for the progressive vision.