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Archive for February 2nd, 2010

Rotten Minds, Shriveled Hearts and Human Souls

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 2nd, 2010 5:48 am by HL

Rotten Minds, Shriveled Hearts and Human Souls
Should progressives hold themselves to a higher standard than the name-calling and intellectual violence that conservative bloggers routinely engage in? Much could rest on the answer to this question. By Fred Branfman

Should progressives hold themselves to a higher standard than the name-calling and intellectual violence that conservative bloggers routinely engage in? Much could rest on the answer to this question.


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Get Ready for the GOP’s New Talking Points
Certain vigilant operatives from the blogosphere have caught wind of some key words and phrases that we might soon be hearing on Fox News, as Republican pollster and memo composer Frank Luntz has let fly with his latest manifesto on how to spin the news about happenings on Capitol Hill to the GOP’s advantage. Click here to peruse some excerpts from Luntz’s memo curated by Gawker. The Huffington Post: In a 17-page memo titled, “The Language of Financial Reform,” Luntz urged opponents of reform to frame the final product as filled with bank bailouts, lobbyist loopholes, and additional layers of complicated government bureaucracy. “If there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s that the bad decisions and harmful policies by Washington bureaucrats that in many ways led to the economic crash must never be repeated,” Luntz wrote. “This is your critical advantage. Washington’s incompetence is the common ground on which you can build support.” Read more

Luntz keywords

Certain vigilant operatives from the blogosphere have caught wind of some key words and phrases that we might soon be hearing on Fox News, as Republican pollster and memo composer Frank Luntz has let fly with his latest manifesto on how to spin the news about happenings on Capitol Hill to the GOP’s advantage.

Click here to peruse some excerpts from Luntz’s memo curated by Gawker.

The Huffington Post:

In a 17-page memo titled, “The Language of Financial Reform,” Luntz urged opponents of reform to frame the final product as filled with bank bailouts, lobbyist loopholes, and additional layers of complicated government bureaucracy.

“If there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s that the bad decisions and harmful policies by Washington bureaucrats that in many ways led to the economic crash must never be repeated,” Luntz wrote. “This is your critical advantage. Washington’s incompetence is the common ground on which you can build support.”

Read more

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Amy Siskind: Harold Ford: Get Your Sexism Out of NY

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 2nd, 2010 5:47 am by HL

Amy Siskind: Harold Ford: Get Your Sexism Out of NY
Here are some simple questions Mr. Ford: Why did you flip-flop on Senator Gillibrand? And more importantly, why are you now resorting to blatant sexism as a tactic?

Gina Glantz: Instant America
Instant America Martha Coakley had barely conceded when Rahm Emanuel publicly lashed out at her, her pollster, Celinda Lake, and Emily’s List. (BTW, does anyone…

Judge H. Lee Sarokin: Is the Ban on Federally Funded Abortions Constitutional?
Since the Supreme Court appears receptive to rejecting precedent in letting corporations overwhelm our elective system, possibly they should re-examine the constitutionality of the ban…

Peter Beinart: Ronald Reagan Wouldn’t Have Passed GOP Purity Test, ‘Reagan Resolution’
Republicans love hallowing Ronald Reagan’s name. Too bad they know so little about the guy. Last week in Hawaii, the Republican National Committee almost passed…

Craig Crawford: More than $70,000 for Haiti
We’ve raised $71,523.57 US dollars for ShelterBox supplies to Haiti, sheltering more than 700 victims for more than six months. More info, how to give…..


On Hannity , O’Keefe repeats false suggestion that Landrieu took $300 million bribe

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 2nd, 2010 5:46 am by HL

On Hannity , O’Keefe repeats false suggestion that Landrieu took $300 million bribe

Appearing on Fox News’ Hannity following his arrest for charges relating to an alleged plot involving Sen. Mary Landrieu’s phones, James O’Keefe repeatedly falsely suggested that Landrieu had received a $300 million bribe in return for a vote on health care reform legislation. In fact, Landrieu did not receive $300 million; rather, the Senate version of the health care bill included a provision that could give $300 million to Louisiana Medicaid to deal with the fallout from Hurricane Katrina.

O’Keefe repeatedly falsely suggested Landrieu took $300 million bribe

O’Keefe: Landrieu “received a few hundred million dollars in money in exchange for her vote on the health care bill.” During his February 1 appearance on Hannity, O’Keefe stated that the reason he had entered Landrieu’s office was that “there were reports that Senator Landrieu — her constituents was, were not able to get through to her. She said her lines were jammed for a few weeks after she received a few hundred million dollars in money in exchange for her vote on the health care bill.”

O’Keefe: “We deserve to find out if they’re accepting $300 million in money.” Later in the interview, O’Keefe said of his actions in Landrieu’s office: “Generally speaking, it’s the people’s office. It’s — these are representatives of our country and we deserve to find out if they’re accepting $300 million in money. We deserve to find out what’s going on, why the people of Louisiana couldn’t get through to her.”

Previously, O’Keefe claimed Landrieu constituents “didn’t want her taking millions of federal dollars.” In a statement posted on BigGovernment.com, O’Keefe asserted: “I learned from a number of sources that many of Senator Landrieu’s constituents were having trouble getting through to her office to tell her that they didn’t want her taking millions of federal dollars in exchange for her vote on the healthcare bill.”

Money actually for Louisiana Medicaid, not Landrieu

Landrieu: Hundreds of millions in Senate bill to deal with shortfall in Louisiana Medicaid caused by Katrina. As the Washington Independent’s David Weigel noted in response to O’Keefe’s statement on BigGovernment.com: “[T]he controversy is not over whether Landrieu is “taking millions of federal dollars,” but why the Senate added $300 million in Medicaid subsidies that stood to benefit Louisiana. That’s a legitimate issue — O’Keefe, trying to clear the air, bends it into a bribery smear.” Indeed, several media outlets noted that Landrieu had secured funding to increase federal contributions to Medicaid as part of the Senate version of the health care reform bill worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Landrieu described the provision in a press release announcing her support for the health reform legislation, stating that it was necessary to deal with the fact that Louisiana’s “per capita income was abnormally inflated” due to “one-time recovery dollars” given to Louisiana as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita:

Finally, I was also proud to work with Leader Reid and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus to address an inequity in the formula that determines the federal match of Medicaid dollars. As we all know, in 2005 Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ravaged the Gulf Coast and destroyed homes, neighborhoods, and even full communities throughout South Louisiana. In an effort to aid the recovery, Congress approved a much-needed aid package for Louisianans that infused grant dollars and direct assistance to speed our recovery.

Some necessary one-time recovery dollars, in addition to labor and wage costs going up because there was a constriction in the market, were calculated into our State’s per capita income. The result has been that Louisiana’s per capita income was abnormally inflated, and put us in a category with richer states like Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maryland.

The result is that our federal match for Medicaid dropped pretty dramatically. I worked with my colleagues to correct this formula. I never asked for special treatment for Louisiana, but only for understanding of the unintended consequences of our state’s unique situation. We only wanted to be treated fairly and not to get penalized because we have been forced to rebuild following the worst natural disaster in the United States’ history. Our federal Medicaid match rates should reflect the reality on the ground in Louisiana, not the cold calculations of inflexible federal formulas.

Louisiana Republican Sen. Vitter reportedly said there are “legitimate arguments in favor of the Louisiana hurricane-Medicaid fix.” From a January 28 article in the Baton Rouge Advocate:

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said Landrieu’s actions and the controversy that followed it hurt the merits and prospects of state congressional members to securing future federal Medicaid dollars.

“I’m afraid that legitimate arguments in favor of the Louisiana hurricane-Medicaid fix will never be focused on now because of the deal-making over the Obama health-care bill,” Vitter said.

AP: Jindal’s administration has “publicly sought a fix to the temporary drop in federal Medicaid match money for Louisiana.” From a January 20 Associated Press article:

Without Landrieu’s language, Louisiana’s federal assistance for Medicaid will be cut because the state’s post-Hurricane Katrina economic surge temporarily drove up average income in the state because of government aid and high-paying reconstruction jobs. The federal share of Medicaid aid is higher for states with lower average incomes. State officials have argued the state shouldn’t be penalized for an artificial, temporary per-capita income boost.

“Louisiana only asked to stay where we were; to have the same payment schedule that we’ve always had,” Landrieu said.

Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration and much of the state congressional delegation have publicly sought a fix to the temporary drop in federal Medicaid match money for Louisiana, though Jindal and most of the state’s congressmen oppose the Democrat’s health care bill.

Times-Picayune: Jindal health secretary says people should be “grateful that Landrieu used her leverage” to try to get health care fix. An November 20, 2009, article in the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported (via Nexis):

While the Republican National Committee immediately charged that Landrieu has made a “backroom deal with (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid for her support of the government takeover of our health care system,” Alan Levine, Louisiana secretary of health and hospitals in the Jindal administration, said that even those who oppose the bill ought to be grateful that Landrieu used her leverage to try to fix the state’s so-called “FMAP” problem.

“Look,” said Levine, who has been lobbying the administration and Congress on the FMAP issue for eight months, “it’s good to have a senator in a position to be able to make demands like that.”

“While I don’t support the bill, she is doing the best she can to help the state, and she should be applauded,” he said.


‘Penis Monologues’ Scribe Worked At Program To Recruit Female Spies

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 2nd, 2010 5:45 am by HL

‘Penis Monologues’ Scribe Worked At Program To Recruit Female Spies
Stan Dai, the accused Landrieu phone tamperer who penned an anti-feminist parody called The Penis Monologues as a conservative activist in college, went on to work for a program designed to get women and minority students interested in espionage work.

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President Scott ‘W.’ Brown in 2012?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 2nd, 2010 5:40 am by HL

President Scott ‘W.’ Brown in 2012?
“A couple of things are striking about the pro-[Scott] Brown spending. It’s always entertaining to watch someone self-described as an independent, political free operator getting so much support from national conservative groups. And it’s especially entertaining given that while many of these groups support ideological purges from their party, Brown is … a liberal, according […]


Moran Widens Lead Over Tiart

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 2nd, 2010 5:39 am by HL

Moran Widens Lead Over Tiart
A new SurveyUSA poll in Kansas finds Jerry Moran (R) leading Rep. Todd Tiart (R) in the Republican U.S. Senate race, 40% to 33%.

Cox Opens Up Lead Over Hoekstra
A new EPIC-MRA poll in Michigan shows Attorney General Mike Cox (R) opening up a 7 point lead on Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R) in the race for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, 32% to 25%.

In head-to-head matchups, both Cox and Hoekstra defeat Denise Ilitch (D), the leading Democrat tested even though she is not officially in the race.

“The poll comes after Lt. Gov. John Cherry’s (D) withdrawal from the Democratic race earlier this month. Cherry had led Democrats, but also fared poorly against Republicans in polls and was having trouble raising money.”


Howard Zinn: "We Should Not Give Up the Game Before All the Cards Have Been Played"

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 2nd, 2010 5:38 am by HL

Howard Zinn: "We Should Not Give Up the Game Before All the Cards Have Been Played"
Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zigzag toward a more decent society.

Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zigzag toward a more decent society.

Against Closure: Why "Lost" Creators Should Resist the Urge to Tell All
The problem is that a program whose guiding principle has been the introduction and prolonging of suspense cannot easily lay suspense aside — and it shouldn’t.

The problem is that a program whose guiding principle has been the introduction and prolonging of suspense cannot easily lay suspense aside — and it shouldn't.

5 Ways Techno-Gadgetry Is Bringing Out the Worst in Humanity
Everything from handy gadgets like cell phones and iPods to user-friendly weaponry like Tasers have changed the way we work, play and police.

Everything from handy gadgets like cell phones and iPods to user-friendly weaponry like Tasers have changed the way we work, play and police.

Why We’re Addicted to Disaster Porn
We can thank the likes of Sanjay Gupta, Brian Williams, Anderson Cooper — disaster porn stars with visions of Peabodys and Pulitzers dancing in their heads.

We can thank the likes of Sanjay Gupta, Brian Williams, Anderson Cooper — disaster porn stars with visions of Peabodys and Pulitzers dancing in their heads.

Why Are Americans Passive as Millions Lose Their Homes, Jobs, Families and the American Dream?
Society-wide depression has struck America. Why it’s happened and what we can do about it.

Society-wide depression has struck America. Why it's happened and what we can do about it.


A Tribute To TPMtv and Ben Craw

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 2nd, 2010 5:37 am by HL

A Tribute To TPMtv and Ben Craw
As Josh noted in the Editors Blog, today is longtime video editor Ben Craw’s last day at TPM. He’s been with us for nearly four years and has created some truly incredible video in the process. Josh paid tribute by…


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Sheikh Jarrah: ‘Ground Zero’
Yesterday’s vigil did not grow in numbers, but it was clear from the people who turned out that it is growing in moral prestige. During the week, J Street issued a statement of support. The world press has begun to…


IsraelEast JerusalemMiddle EastSheikh JarrahWarfare and Conflict


Vitter to lift holds on Flanagan replacement and other stalled Louisiana Obama nominees.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 2nd, 2010 5:36 am by HL

Vitter to lift holds on Flanagan replacement and other stalled Louisiana Obama nominees.
For the past month, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) has been blocking the appointment of several of President Obama’s judicial nominees from Louisiana as part of “a two-year battle” with Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA). Vitter has said that he would stall the nominees until he was assured that U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s renomination was assured. The […]

VitterSmileFor the past month, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) has been blocking the appointment of several of President Obama’s judicial nominees from Louisiana as part of “a two-year battle” with Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA). Vitter has said that he would stall the nominees until he was assured that U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s renomination was assured. The Times-Picayune reports that Vitter will sign the “blue slips” for several nominees now that Letten has been appointed to a key advisory panel in the Justice Department:

“This prestigious appointment makes it crystal clear that Jim isn’t going anywhere except on regular trips to Washington to personally advise the attorney general,” Vitter, R-La., said. “The attorney general and I superficially discussed this in our meeting last Thursday and I’m really excited to get it done.”

Vitter said he now plans to sign the blue slips for Obama’s criminal justice nominees. The slips are required from the senators in the home states of prosecutors, judges and U.S. marshals before the Senate Judiciary Committee will schedule confirmation hearings.

Letten is being appointed to the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys. The panel, consisting of selected U.S. attorneys, provides advice and counsel to the attorney general on policy, management and operational issues impacting federal prosecutors. The panel was formed in 1973.

Nominees that were stalled by Vitter include “Genny May, a 31-year-officer with the Louisiana State Police, as U.S. marshal in New Orleans; Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Michael Bagneris to fill a federal judgeship in New Orleans; New Orleans attorney Brian Jackson as a federal judge in the Middle District in Baton Rouge; and Stephanie Finley as U.S. Attorney in Shreveport.” If Finley is confirmed, she would take over for acting U.S. Attorney William J. Flanagan, whose son Robert was recently arrested for entering Landrieu’s office under false pretenses in an alleged phone-tampering scheme.

Boehner Agrees With Progressives: Obama?s Spending Freeze Should Not Exclude Defense Spending
Since President Obama announced his intention to enact a “spending freeze” on non-security domestic discretionary spending in the federal budget, progressives have been calling on him to include the massive budgets of the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security. As CAP Senior Fellow Lawrence J. Korb has noted, these agencies “are responsible for a large […]

Since President Obama announced his intention to enact a “spending freeze” on non-security domestic discretionary spending in the federal budget, progressives have been calling on him to include the massive budgets of the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security. As CAP Senior Fellow Lawrence J. Korb has noted, these agencies “are responsible for a large and increasing share of the discretionary portion of the federal budget,” so by excluding them, “the president’s spending freeze will have a marginal effect.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has echoed this call. Korb has suggested that the White House has been reluctant to exclude these accounts out of “fear of appearing weak on defense.” However, yesterday on NBC’s Meet the Press, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) — who would likely be leading such attacks against Democrats — said that he agreed with progressives:

GREGORY: The question of spending and commonsense steps that could be taken, you heard David Axelrod say, “Look, the Republicans voted against paying as you go. They voted against a commission to control the debt.” They suggest a spending freeze, the president’s budget will. And Speaker Pelosi has said that should not exempt defense spending, it should include it. What do you say? Should the spending freeze be a good start but be expanded?

BOEHNER: I think the President’s proposal on freezing nonsecurity domestic spending is a good first step, but it’s only $15 billion for each of the next three years. I think we can do much better than that. I don’t think any agency of the federal government should be exempt from rooting out wasteful spending or unnecessary spending. And I, frankly, I would agree with it at the Pentagon. There’s got to be wasteful spending there, unnecessary spending there.

Watch it:

Korb has laid out nine reductions the Pentagon could take to cut spending. Yglesias notes that a significant amount of defense spending occupies “a middle ground between ‘waste’ and ‘defending our freedom,’” and will require a tough debate about U.S. priorities. (HT: Steve Benen)


Peter Orszag, OMB chief and sex symbol

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 2nd, 2010 5:35 am by HL

Peter Orszag, OMB chief and sex symbol
For a year now, the capital has been trying to solve a singular mystery: Why is Peter Orszag so sexy?

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Obama 2011 budget request: SEC, CFTC
The Obama administration’s budget proposal provides a sizeable boost to two financial regulators — the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission — after years when the agencies’ budgets didn’t keep pace with the growth and increasing complexity in the finan…

Obama budget cuts Stupak scholarship
Among the 126 programs President Obama proposes to slash in the 2011 budget is a $1 million scholarship program created to honor the late son of Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.).