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Gender: Male
Hometown: VA
Home country: USA
Current location: VA
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 40,062

About Me

Blocked on Twitter by that rat bastard fuck @ggreenwald

Journal Archives

The Koch brothers are getting close to having their own political party

Over the past few election cycles, the Koch brothers have poured tens of millions of dollars into controlling our political process. In fact, by now they've practically created their own political party, existing to support and steer the Republican Party:

The Koch network also has developed in-house expertise in polling, message-testing, fact-checking, advertising, media buying, dial groups and donor maintenance. Add mastery of election law, a corporate-minded aggressiveness and years of patient experimentation — plus seemingly limitless cash — and the Koch operation actually exceeds the RNC’s data operation in many important respects.
The least-known vehicle for the Kochs is a for-profit company known as i360, started by a former adviser to John McCain’s presidential campaign after McCain lost to Barack Obama in 2008. Subsequently, it merged with a Koch-funded data nonprofit. The Koch-affiliated Freedom Partners, formed in late 2011, eventually became an investor, officials confirmed to POLITICO.

Spending more than $50 million in cash over the past four years, i360 links voter information with consumer data purchased from credit bureaus and other vendors. Information from social networks is blended in, along with any interaction the voter may have had with affiliated campaigns and advocacy groups. Then come estimated income, recent addresses, how often a person has voted, and even the brand of car they drive. Another i360 service slices and dices information about TV viewing to help campaigns target ads more precisely and cost efficiently.

It's not just data, of course. The Koch shadow party infrastructure extends not just to Americans for Prosperity's 550 staffers but to a Latino outreach group with 80 staffers across seven states, a young voter outreach group with 30 staffers in 10 states, and a veterans outreach group with 60 staffers in 14 states.
In short, Republican campaigns aren't backed by just one political party. Favored Republicans, or ones in states with a strong Koch presence, are bolstered by the resources of the Republican Party and the Koch shadow party. This is what Democrats are up against and this, not just television ads, is what we mean when we talk about money in politics.


State (LA) Democratic chairwoman blames Koch brothers, Fox News for party's woes

The Koch Brothers and Fox News are to blame for the Democratic Party's woes in Louisiana, at least in the mind of Louisiana Democratic Party chairwoman Karen Carter-Peterson.

In a column on the Cenlamar website, Carter-Peterson wrote that while the party enjoyed some success in this year's election cycle, the Koch's and Fox News kept the party from selling it's message of working for Louisianans.

"But the fact of the matter is this -- the non-stop, onslaught of negative and inflammatory Koch Brothers ads, added to the toxic media environment driven by Fox News and the right-wing echo chamber, have made it challenging for us to drive out our message to voters," Carter-Peterson wrote.

The column came just days after Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy defeated three-term Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu with 56 percent of the vote. Republicans also won the 5th and 6th Congressional District seats over Democrats that made the runoff in decisive victories.

Charles and David Koch's political action committee, Americans for Prosperity, spent about $2 million in ads against Landrieu, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. It spent the fourth-most amount of money of any outside group behind the pro-Landrieu group Patriot Majority USA at about $3 million, pro-Landrieu group Senate Majority PAC at about $2.4 million, and pro-Cassidy group Crossroads USA at $2.1 million.

Landrieu's campaign spent about $16.8 million compared to $11 million spent by Cassidy. Part of Landrieu's problem, however, was that she spent most of the her money before the runoff. That's coupled with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee yanking their ad buys in the runoff, resulting in pro-Cassidy or anti-Landrieu ads making up the bulk of what voters saw on television in the weeks leading up to the election.


Kudos for Carter calling them both out...Sadly she's going to take a lot of shit for this, since there is always a harsh crackdown on anyone who dares tell the public to look behind the curtain...

Why is Kate Upton's magical cleavage hawking some geeky video game??

And why would I ever be motivated to download that game unless Kate Upton came with it??

How to identify a troll on DU almost as fast as Brother Blue_Tires:


This information is just for everyone's benefit -- We have to tread lightly here because we're going to be getting into some unsavory stuff, and too many past discussions of the topic have descended into shriek-filled accusations of "purity purges" and the like...I'm *not* saying everyone needs to use this guide to "out" some posters they may have a grudge against; this guide is just so people will recognize when these techniques are in use and act accordingly...

EDIT: It is also critical to remember when we unconsciously revert to these techniques ourselves, since it only serves to perpetuate the problem...(Even I am not immune to this )

Energy Firms in Secretive Alliance With Attorneys General

The letter to the Environmental Protection Agency from Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma carried a blunt accusation: Federal regulators were grossly overestimating the amount of air pollution caused by energy companies drilling new natural gas wells in his state.

But Mr. Pruitt left out one critical point. The three-page letter was written by lawyers for Devon Energy, one of Oklahoma’s biggest oil and gas companies, and was delivered to him by Devon’s chief of lobbying.

“Outstanding!” William F. Whitsitt, who at the time directed government relations at the company, said in a note to Mr. Pruitt’s office. The attorney general’s staff had taken Devon’s draft, copied it onto state government stationery with only a few word changes, and sent it to Washington with the attorney general’s signature. “The timing of the letter is great, given our meeting this Friday with both E.P.A. and the White House.”

Mr. Whitsitt then added, “Please pass along Devon’s thanks to Attorney General Pruitt.”


Can Democrats Win In the South by Being More Liberal?

It isn't accurate to call Mary Landrieu "the last Southern Democrat," as one headline after another put it in the days leading up to and following her defeat in Saturday’s runoff election in Louisiana. While it's true that Republicans now control almost all the Senate seats, governorships, and legislatures of the 11 states of the old confederacy (the exceptions are found in Virginia and Florida), there are quite a few Democratic elected officials left in the South—but few of them were elected statewide, and a large proportion of them are black.

For years, Democrats have tried to hold on in the South by appealing to the white voters who have steadily drifted away from them. That strategy has failed. Their future in the South—and they can have one—would start with black and Latino voters and work outward from there. It would be almost the exact opposite of how Democrats have been running statewide in recent years.

No one expected Landrieu to hold on for a third term in the Senate, notwithstanding her decades in office or her family's famous New Orleans name (her father is a former mayor; her brother is mayor now). Louisiana is a deeply Republican state, one that has only grown more Republican in recent years. Or it's more accurate to say that, just as in other states in the region, white Louisianans have grown more Republican. This may be the most telling piece of data about Landrieu's decline, from Politico: "During the open primary election last month, Landrieu won just 18 percent of the white vote, according to exit polls, compared to 33 percent six years ago."

Eighteen percent may be abysmal, but Barack Obama did even worse among Louisiana's whites. While there were no exit polls there in 2012, in 2008, he got only 14 percent of the white vote. Only in Alabama and Mississippi were his losses among whites more complete; he got 10 percent in the former and 11 percent in the latter.

Democratic chances are a function of two variables: the proportion of non-white voters, and the particular kind of white voters, in each state.

So is the South now lost for Democrats? The problem with that question is that it lumps together states that are very different. Some states may indeed be lost, at least in the near future. But others are not. Democratic chances are a function of two variables: the proportion of non-white voters, and the particular kind of white voters, in each state.


He may be right and he may be wrong; but at least someone is trying to look at the issue with a more nuanced, analytical viewpoint than "The south is just a bunch of bass-ackwards Cracker Barrel, rebel flag flying, gun-fondling loons"

In Los Angeles, a Nimby Battle Pits Millionaires vs. Billionaires

LOS ANGELES — At the end of a narrow, twisting side street not far from the Hotel Bel-Air rises a knoll that until recently was largely covered with scrub brush and Algerian ivy. Now the hilltop is sheared and graded, girded by caissons sprouting exposed rebar. “They took 50- or 60,000 cubic yards of dirt out of the place,” said Fred Rosen, a neighbor, glowering at the site from behind the wheel of his Cadillac Escalade on a sunny October afternoon.

Mr. Rosen, who used to run Ticketmaster, has lately devoted himself to the homeowners alliance he helped form shortly after this construction project was approved. When it is finished, a modern compound of glass and steel will rise two stories, encompass several structures and span — wait for it — some 90,000 square feet.

In an article titled “Here Comes L.A.'s Biggest Residence,” The Los Angeles Business Journal announced in June that the house, conceived by Nile Niami, a film producer turned developer, with an estimated sale price “in the $150 million range,” will feature a cantilevered tennis court and five swimming pools. “We’re talking 200 construction trucks a day,” fumed Mr. Rosen. “Then multiply that by all the other giant projects. More than a million cubic yards of this hillside have been taken out. What happens when the next earthquake comes? How nuts is all this?”

By “all this,” he means not just the house with five swimming pools but the ever-expanding number of houses the size of Hyatt resorts rising in the most expensive precincts of Los Angeles. Built for the most part on spec, bestowed with names as assuming as their dimensions, these behemoths are transforming once leafy and placid neighborhoods into dusty enclaves carved by retaining walls and overrun by dirt haulers and cement mixers. “Twenty-thousand-square-foot homes have become teardowns for people who want to build 70-, 80-, and 90,000-square-foot homes,” Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz said. So long, megamansion. Say hello to the gigamansion.


Wow...So now millionaires are getting gentrified...

The New Republic is dead, thanks to its owner, Chris Hughes

At a 40th-birthday party in July for Franklin Foer, editor of the New Republic, the magazine’s young owner, Chris Hughes, got all choked up as he pledged to the roomful of writers at Foer’s country home in Pennsylvania that the two would be “intellectual partners for decades.”

But the moist-eyed Hughes would, in the coming months, prove himself to be neither an intellectual nor a partner but a dilettante and a fraud.

When he bought the magazine in 2012 at the age of 28, the Facebook co-founder pledged to “double down” on “in-depth, rigorous reporting,” telling NPR that “the demand for long-form, quality journalism is strong in our country.”

But after just two years, Hughes decided that saving long-form journalism was just too hard. He declared that the 100-year-old journal of opinion would become a technology company, and he brought in a new CEO who literally proposed that writers team up with engineers to make “widgets” for TNR’s Web site.

Hughes ousted his intellectual partner Foer without even the courtesy of telling him; Foer found out when his replacement, a man who previously had been fired as editor of the gossip Web site Gawker, began announcing himself as the new editor and offering people jobs. Most of the staff quit in protest, and the Hughes management team suspended publication until February. They needn’t bother resuming at all. The New Republic is dead; Chris Hughes killed it.

This is personal for me. I left the Wall Street Journal to join TNR in the 1990s, taking a 50 percent pay cut and a 95 percent reduction in subscribers for the pleasure of joining what felt like a family. I met Hughes earlier this year, and I, too, was fooled by his talk about the resources he was pumping into the magazine. I told him in an e-mail that he was “doing the Lord’s work in rescuing this proud old brand” and called him a “21st-century Walter Lippmann.”


Cautionary tale for those who still believe Omidyar can shit gold nuggets...

Defense Contractor Pleads Guilty to Fraud in Provision of Supplies to U.S. Troops in Afghanistan

Supreme Foodservice GmbH, a privately held Swiss company, and Supreme Foodservice FZE, a privately-held United Arab Emirates (UAE) company, pleaded guilty today to major fraud against the United States and agreed to resolve civil violations of the False Claims Act, in connection with a contract to provide food and water to the U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan, the Justice Department announced today. The companies pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (EDPA) and paid $288.36 million in the criminal case, a sum that includes the maximum criminal fine allowed.

In addition, Supreme Group B.V. and several of its subsidiaries have agreed to pay an additional $146 million to resolve a related civil lawsuit, as well as two separate civil matters, alleging false billings to the Department of Defense (DoD) for fuel and transporting cargo to American soldiers in Afghanistan. The lawsuit was filed in the EDPA, and the fuel and transportation allegations were investigated by the Southern District of Illinois and the Eastern District of Virginia, respectively, along with the Department’s Civil Division.

“The civil resolutions and agreements reflect the Justice Department’s continuing efforts to hold accountable contractors that have engaged in war profiteering,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda for the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The department will pursue contractors that knowingly seek taxpayer funds to which they are not entitled.”

“These companies chose to commit their fraud in connection with a contract to supply food and water to our nation’s fighting men and women serving in Afghanistan,” said U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. “That kind of conduct is repugnant, and we will use every available resource to punish such illegal war profiteering.”

The Criminal Fraud

In 2005, Supreme Foodservice AG, now called Supreme Foodservice GmbH, entered into a contract with the Defense Supply Center of Philadelphia (DSCP, now called Defense Logistics Agency – Troop Support) to provide food and water for the U.S. forces serving in Afghanistan. According to court documents, between July 2005 and April 2009, Supreme Foodservice AG, together with Supreme Foodservice KG, now called Supreme Foodservice FZE, devised and implemented a scheme to overcharge the United States in order to make profits over and above those provided in the $8.8 billion subsistence prime vendor (SPV) contract. The companies fraudulently inflated the price charged for local market ready goods (LMR) and bottled water sold to the United States under the SPV contract. The Supreme companies did this by using a UAE company it controlled, Jamal Ahli Foods Co. LLC (JAFCO), as a middleman to mark up prices for fresh fruits and vegetables and other locally-produced products sold to the U.S. government, and to obscure the inflated price the Supreme companies were charging for bottled water. The fraud resulted in a loss to the government of $48 million.


FOIA Improvement Act clears Senate hold, heads to House.

As early as this morning it looked like the bill would have to be revived next year.

Then, late this afternoon, one of the bill's strongest champions Sen. Patrick Leahy took to the Senate floor and asked for Unanimous Consent to pass it. That consent was granted.

Presumably, this means that Sen. Rockefeller withdrew his hold. Right now it is unclear why, but no bill language was changed (though Sen. Leahy submitting a statement for the record which, we hear, may have helped clear up Sen. Rockefeller's concerns, or offered him a compromise). In the meantime, the Senate just passed a bill that includes significant positive changes to the Freedom of Information Act. We outlined these changes in a previous post:

1.It establishes a stronger presumption of openness, prohibiting withholding of information only if "the agency foresees that disclosure would harm an interest" protected by an exemption. This means that the mere plausibility that an exemption could apply isn’t enough — an argument the public interest has been forced into for far too long.

2. It adds public interest to the b(5) exemption, which is an obtuse provision of FOIA that is abused nearly as much as it’s used. Indeed, some call it the “Withhold It Because You Want To” Exemption. It is borderline indecipherable legalese, but, in theory, it protects internal work that people wouldn't otherwise be entitled to through typical information collection processes — specifically in the context of civil discovery. This bill would inject a limit to using this exemption where the "public interest in disclosure" outweighs an agency’s interest in protecting the information. That standard is significantly higher (it must be a “compelling public interest in disclosure”) for information involving attorney-client privilege, but that’s true across the American legal system.

3.It puts a 25-year time limit on the b(5) exemption (!). This is huge, for all of the reasons described in bullet two above, but let’s add more flavor: According to the National Security Archive, b(5) was “used 81,752 times in 2013,” meaning it was “applied to 12 percent of 2013’s processed requests.” Its usage is at an all-time high, and it is frequently summoned in national security contexts. This means that, for instance, the CIA couldn't block the release of internal reports on the Bay of Pigs invasion simply because the decades-old document is still marked "draft."

The bill isn't law yet, it still has to be passed by the House and signed by President Obama. However, the odds of House passage are looking good as that chamber passed a similar piece of legislation unanimously earlier this year, and have expressed support for moving on this quickly.


The one time in a hundred congress doesn't fuck up, thank the gods....
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