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Archive for March 2nd, 2010

The System Works, Even if These Bozos Don’t

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

The System Works, Even if These Bozos Don’t
Divided government need not mean gridlock. Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan made it work. Obama can, too.

By Stanley Kutler

Divided government need not mean gridlock. Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan made it work. Obama can, too.


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Hazmat Teams Called to IRS Building in Utah
A “suspicious substance” caused a ruckus at an Internal Revenue Service outpost in Ogden, Utah, on Monday, and hazardous materials crews and the FBI were called in. Later, an official said the substance was found to pose no danger, and federal agents reported that medical emergencies in the building were not related to the material that caused the alarm. Understandably, the IRS has been on edge since a pilot deliberately crashed a small airplane into an office of the revenue service last month. Updated AP via MSNBC: OGDEN, Utah – An official with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service says a suspicious substance found at an IRS building in Ogden, Utah, is not hazardous. The FBI’s Salt Lake City division said Monday that hazardous materials crews were called to the IRS building about 35 miles north of Salt Lake City to respond to a possible hazardous material threat. Parts of the building were evacuated. […] The incident began about 12:30 p.m. (2:30 p.m. ET) Monday, 11 days after a Texas man embroiled in a years-long dispute with the IRS crashed his small plane into the agency’s complex in Austin, Texas. Read more

IRS logo

A “suspicious substance” caused a ruckus at an Internal Revenue Service outpost in Ogden, Utah, on Monday, and hazardous materials crews and the FBI were called in. Later, an official said the substance was found to pose no danger, and federal agents reported that medical emergencies in the building were not related to the material that caused the alarm. Understandably, the IRS has been on edge since a pilot deliberately crashed a small airplane into an office of the revenue service last month. Updated

AP via MSNBC:

OGDEN, Utah – An official with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service says a suspicious substance found at an IRS building in Ogden, Utah, is not hazardous.

The FBI’s Salt Lake City division said Monday that hazardous materials crews were called to the IRS building about 35 miles north of Salt Lake City to respond to a possible hazardous material threat.

Parts of the building were evacuated.

[…] The incident began about 12:30 p.m. (2:30 p.m. ET) Monday, 11 days after a Texas man embroiled in a years-long dispute with the IRS crashed his small plane into the agency’s complex in Austin, Texas.

Read more

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Andrew Romanoff: The Courage of Our Convictions

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

Andrew Romanoff: The Courage of Our Convictions
Washington has become a wholly owned subsidiary of the industries it’s supposed to be regulating. Too many politicians seem more interested in their own job security than in ours.

Rahm Emanuel The White House Voice Of Reason?
Rahm Emanuel is officially a Washington caricature. He’s the town’s resident leviathan, a bullying, bruising White House chief of staff who is a prime target…

Chris Weigant: Primary Season Begins
For many on the Left, primary season officially got going today, with the announcement that Senator Blanche Lincoln will face a very credible Democratic opponent in the Arkansas primary.


Fox hosts GOP-backed Tea Party Express to deny that tea party is “Astroturf”

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

Fox hosts GOP-backed Tea Party Express to deny that tea party is “Astroturf”

Fox & Friends hosted Amy Kremer of the Tea Party Express to rebut charges that some of the tea party movement is orchestrated by the Republican Party. Kremer insisted that “this is a true, genuine, grassroots movement,” but, in fact, the Tea Party Express was launched by Republican consultants and has been criticized by other conservative activists for its partisan ties to Republicans.

Fox & Friends hosts Tea Party Express’ Kremer, who says, “[T]his is a true, genuine, grassroots movement”

From the March 1 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): We’re joined by the director of the Tea Party Express Grassroots and Coalition, Amy Kremer. Good morning to you, Amy.

KREMER: Good morning, Gretchen.

CARLSON: As someone so involved with the tea party movement and having heard Nancy Pelosi call you Astroturf before, about six months ago, what was your reaction when you heard her say that she may have some things in common with you?

KREMER: I was shocked. I think most people within the movement are shocked. She’s a little delusional. There’s not much that she has in common with us. You know, I just — I can’t believe that she would think that she would. She brings up the special interests, and, you know, their ruling with the Supreme Court. Honest to goodness, that’s not what we’ve been focused on.

STEVE DOOCY (co-host): Sure.

KREMER: We’ve been focused on our core principles and values of fiscal responsibility, limited government, free markets, and most importantly, recently, health care. I don’t recall anybody mentioning anything about the special interests lately.

DOOCY: Right. Amy, do you agree with her that some of the tea party stuff is orchestrated by the GOP headquarters?

KREMER: Absolutely not. I’m sure she would like to think so, but it’s not. I mean, this is a true, genuine, grassroots movement.

DOOCY: Right.

KREMER: We’re not Astroturf. We’re not being orchestrated by anyone or anything, and we’re going to continue to grow.

But Tea Party Express was launched by Republican consultants

Tea Party Express run by Republican PAC. The Associated Press reported in October 2008 that Our Country Deserves Better PAC, which launched the Tea Party Express, “was formed in August [2008] by California political consultant Sal Russo and former California Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian.” As their OCDB biographies note, Russo is a veteran Republican consultant and Kaloogian served as a Republican.

OCDB’s mission is to oppose Obama and “Democratic Congress.” On its “About Us” page, OCDB states that “we must stand up to Barack Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress.” The PAC also solicits contributions by stating, “Help us fight the Democratic Congress!” NPR reported on September 26, 2008, that OCDB’s website then said “it has one objective: to defeat Obama.” During the 2008 campaign, the PAC hosted “patriotic, pro-McCain/Palin rallies” to “Stop Obama.”

OCDB campaigned for Republican Tedisco. OCDB “reported for Talking Points memo that “[t]he political action committee behind the Tea Party Express (TPE) — which already has been slammed as inauthentic and corporate-controlled by rival factions in the Tea Party movement — directed almost two thirds of its spending during a recent reporting period back to the Republican consulting firm that created the PAC in the first place.” Roth further wrote:

Our Country Deserves Better (OCDB) spent around $1.33 million from July through November, according to FEC filings examined by TPMmuckraker. Of that sum, a total of $857,122 went to Sacramento-based GOP political consulting firm Russo, Marsh, and Associates, or people associated with it.

OCDB, which built the Tea Party Express, is essentially a Russo, Marsh creation, as we’ve detailed. The PAC’s site was registered in July 2008 by Sal Russo, the firm’s founder. That site also lists Russo as the PAC’s “chief strategist.” Tea Party Express fundraising emails, sent by OCDB and obtained by TPMmuckraker, come from another Russo, Marsh employee, Joe Wierzbicki.

Other tea party groups reportedly accuse Tea Party Express of being “sham organization” for GOP

Tea Party Express reportedly seen by other conservative activists as “sham organization” pushing “partisan Republican agenda.” On October 9, 2009, David Weigel reported for The Washington Independent that other tea party activists see the Tea Party Express as “a scheme for Republican strategists and candidates to take advantage of a movement that was chugging along fine without them”:

An argument has broken out, perhaps inevitably, between Tea Party activists and one of the groups that has laid claim to the Tea Party mantle. The self-described grassroots activists in Tea Party Patriots and the American Liberty Alliance see the Tea Party Express as a sham organization, using the political heft of the movement to push a bland, partisan Republican agenda. Privately and publicly, they accuse the Tea Party Express of being an “astroturf” outfit, a scheme for Republican strategists and candidates to take advantage of a movement that was chugging along fine without them.

National Precinct Alliance director called Tea Party Express a “Republican National Committee-related group.” On January 25, The New York Times reported that Philip Glass, the director of conservative group National Precinct Alliance, announced that his organization would not participate in the National Tea Party Convention. The article reported: “Mr. Glass said he was also concerned about the role in the convention of groups like Tea Party Express, which has held rallies across the country through two bus tours, and FreedomWorks, a Tea Party umbrella. He called them ‘Republican National Committee-related groups,’ and added, ‘At best, it creates the appearance of an R.N.C. hijacking; at worst, it is one.’ “

Meckler of Tea Party Patriots on Tea Party Express: “[T]hey raise money for Republicans.” Weigel reported on October 2, 2009, that Mark Meckler, a national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, said, “Tea Party Patriots are very dissatisfied with the Republican Party — we have nothing against Our Country Deserves Better PAC, but they raise money for Republicans.”

Fox News aggressively promotes Tea Party Express tour

Fox News has aggressively promoted the Tea Party Express tours. Fox News, Fox Business, Fox Nation, and FoxNews.com have promoted the tours, going so far as to cheerlead for the protests and advertise the tea party schedule so viewers “can be a part” of the events. Indeed, a Fox News producer was even caught coaching a crowd to cheer during a stop of the Tea Party Express.

Fox Nation promoting Tea Party Express III. Fox Nation has promoted the third national tour, which begins March 27 in Searchlight, Nevada, and ends April 15 in Washington, D.C.

In turn, the organizers of Tea Party Express have used Fox’s coverage for fundraising. The OCDB PAC used Fox News’ coverage of its Tea Party Express to fundraise in a July 29, 2009, email.


Former DOJ-ers Doubtful On Missing Yoo Emails Story

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 2nd, 2010 5:44 am by HL

Former DOJ-ers Doubtful On Missing Yoo Emails Story
An internal Justice Department report on the Torture Memos noted that investigators were told that key emails from John Yoo had been deleted and could not be retrieved. But several former DOJ staffers expressed intense skepticism that the emails could in fact have been rendered unrecoverable — at least without a deliberate effort to destroy them.

Did GOP Rep Resign To Squelch Ethics Probe?
Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA), who is under investigation by the ethics committee for reportedly intervening with Georgia officials to preserve a lucrative business agreement with the state, announced today he is leaving Congress, effective next Monday. Why did he do it?

Report: Lawmakers To Be Cleared In PMA Ethics Probe
There is no evidence that any members of Congress exchanged earmarks for campaign contributions with the PMA Group, the House Ethics committee has found, sources tell Roll Call.


Sen. Jim Bunning — The Ugliest American

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

Sen. Jim Bunning — The Ugliest American


Primary Day in Texas

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

Primary Day in Texas
Texas voters head to the polls today and the race most watched is the Republican gubernatorial primary between Gov. Rick Perry (R), Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) and Debra Medina (R).

The Dallas Morning News notes the “unprecedented battle between the two-term governor and three-term senator has stretched more than a year and consumed tens of millions of dollars. But for all the TV ads and attacks on each other, the dynamic appears little changed in months. Perry, riding a wave of anti-Washington sentiment, appears to have a comfortable lead, while Hutchison is trying to keep her bid alive for a few more weeks with a runoff.”

At one point Medina “appeared to be battling Hutchison for second place but may have slipped in recent days because of a lack of money for television ads and a failure to quickly disavow a possible government conspiracy in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.”

Austin American Statesman: “If early voting in the state’s big counties was any indication, turnout for today’s election will be high. About 306,000 people voted early in the Republican primary this year in the state’s 15 largest counties, more than doubling early vote turnout in those counties compared with the 2006 Republican primary for governor.”

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Specter Pushes Ahead of Toomey
A new Quinnipiac poll in Pennsylvania finds Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) has retaken the lead over challenger Pat Toomey (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 49% to 42%.

In the Democratic primary, Specter is crushing challenger Joe Sestak (D), 53% to 29%.

Said pollster Peter Brown: “Sen. Arlen Specter seems to be having a good winter politically. He is back ahead of Republican Pat Toomey after having been essentially tied with him since last summer, and there remains no evidence that his primary challenger, Congressman Joe Sestak, has made much progress as we get within three months of the May primary.”


Trail of Dreams vs. KKK: Walking on for Immigration Reform

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

Trail of Dreams vs. KKK: Walking on for Immigration Reform
Change.org wraps up coverage of the DREAM Act Week of Action with a look at the Trail of Dreams march from Florida to D.C.

Change.org wraps up coverage of the DREAM Act Week of Action with a look at the Trail of Dreams march from Florida to D.C.

Rethinking the Shopper’s High: New Ways to Get the Rush Without Laying Out the Cash
The serotonin surge from shopping (think runner’s high spiked with chic Milly dresses and swank Boss suits) can be attained from trying and not buying.

The serotonin surge from shopping (think runner's high spiked with chic Milly dresses and swank Boss suits) can be attained from trying and not buying.

The Autobiography of an Execution: One Lawyer’s Fight to Save Death Row Inmates in Texas
David Dow has represented over 100 death row cases. Many of his clients have died. Most were guilty. Some might have been innocent. This is his deeply personal story.

David Dow has represented over 100 death row cases. Many of his clients have died. Most were guilty. Some might have been innocent. This is his deeply personal story.


Palestine’s Economic Pieces

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

Palestine’s Economic Pieces
A serious misconception is being propagated by the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah. Media, international organizations, foreign governments and Palestinians-at-large are being coaxed into believing that the flurry of economic activity in the West Bank is economic development towards statehood. The…



West BankIsraelMiddle EastRamallahPalestinian people

A Truth that Barely Speaks Its Name
” [I]t seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide… whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they…



PoliticsTea PartiersTeaConservatismUnited States


McCain To Propose Amendment Prohibiting Changes To Medicare Using Reconciliation

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

McCain To Propose Amendment Prohibiting Changes To Medicare Using Reconciliation
President Barack Obama may have cut off Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) at Thursday’s health care summit, but Meet the Press gave McCain the last word this Sunday. During yesterday’s appearance McCain announced that he will introduce legislation preventing the Democrats from using reconciliation to change Medicare spending: MCCAIN: And let me also say that […]

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) President Barack Obama may have cut off Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) at Thursday’s health care summit, but Meet the Press gave McCain the last word this Sunday. During yesterday’s appearance McCain announced that he will introduce legislation preventing the Democrats from using reconciliation to change Medicare spending:

MCCAIN: And let me also say that Robert Byrd also in the ’70s exempted Social Security. Social Security cannot be considered in reconciliation. We should do the same thing with Medicare. Lindsay Graham and I will be introducing legislation. Entitlements should not be part of a reconciliation process, i.e., 51 votes. It’s too important.

As McCain gears up for the toughest re-election campaign of his career, he has abandoned his support for cutting Medicare and Medicaid by some $1.3 trillion over 10 years and has grown increasingly protective of the government-sponsored program. At the summit, the Senator accused Obama of approving an ‘unsavory’ special deal for Floridians on Medicare Advantage and has spent hours defending the Medicare program during floor debate.

To my ears, the McCain/Graham amendment is another political ploy that’s designed to communicate a message rather than stop the reconciliation process. After all, Congress has already approved the Medicare changes in the Senate health care bill and the reconciliation package of fixes will only include a change to the payroll tax (used to fund the Medicare program). A McCain/Grahm amendment that prohibits reconciliation changes to the Medicare trust fund could complicate the package, but it won’t derail the entire effort.

But on the whole, this is really a cynical move (and highly unlikely, since any rule change would require 67 votes). Republicans have consistantly supported far larger cuts to the Medicare program than what Democrats are currently proposing and are always complaining that the Medicare “entitlement” program will bankrupt the nation. Now they’re preparing to unveil an amendment designed to prohibit Democrats from reducing Medicare spending and extending the life of the program.

Cross-posted on The Wonk Room.

Lamar Alexander Won?t Rule Out Using Reconciliation To Repeal Health Care Reform
Yesterday on ABC’s This Week, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) attacked Democrats for considering using reconciliation to pass health care reform, saying it would be “the end of the Senate.” Yet Alexander himself has voted for bills using reconciliation at least four times in his Senate career. Today on Fox News, Alexander said that if Democrats […]

Yesterday on ABC’s This Week, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) attacked Democrats for considering using reconciliation to pass health care reform, saying it would be “the end of the Senate.” Yet Alexander himself has voted for bills using reconciliation at least four times in his Senate career.

Today on Fox News, Alexander said that if Democrats pass health care, he will lead the GOP charge to repeal it. “We’ll spend the rest of the year in the campaign to try to repeal it,” he said, adding that “the health care bill is going to define every Democratic candidate for every public office in November.”

Later on ABC’s Top Line, Alexander again attacked reconciliation and reiterated his repeal pledge, but the Tennessee senator wouldn’t rule out using reconciliation to repeal health care reform:

Q: If the Democrats succeed in jamming this through on reconciliation, would you be open to using the very same process – reconciliation – to repeal health care reform?

ALEXANDER: I don’t like using the reconciliation for this. I’ve tried to be consistent in my views. […]

Q: Is reconciliation something you would say, “We would never use for something substantive legislation like health care?” Are you prepared to make that kind of statement?

ALEXANDER: No I’m not going to prepare to make any kind of statement. I’m prepared to say it shouldn’t be done now and if it shouldn’t be done now it shouldn’t be done in the future.

Watch it (starting at 4:40):

It doesn’t make sense that using reconciliation to pass health care reform would be “the end of the Senate,” yet using the process to repeal it would be perfectly acceptable.

“The goal of the repeal movement is to intimidate Democrats into inaction and raise money,” notes the Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky, adding that “they’ll be attacked for voting for an unpopular bill and portrayed as weak for abandoning an effort they fervently championed. Then again, if Democrats are willing to take their campaign advice from Republicans, maybe they shouldn’t be in Congress in the first place.”


Ford won’t challenge Gillibrand for Senate in N.Y.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 2nd, 2010 5:34 am by HL

Ford won’t challenge Gillibrand for Senate in N.Y.
Former congressman Harold E. Ford Jr. has decided against challenging Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), ending a potential primary fight that Democrats in Washington and New York had actively discouraged.

Hotheaded Emanuel may be White House voice of reason
Rahm Emanuel is officially a Washington caricature. He’s the town’s resident leviathan, a bullying, bruising White House chief of staff who is a prime target for the failings of the Obama administration.

Obama to sell stimulus package to a wary Savannah
SAVANNAH, GA. — To hear President Obama tell it, his plans for reshaping the nation’s economy are aimed at helping people like Ray Gaster, whose small chain of lumberyards here has been walloped by the recession.