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TomCADem

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Member since: Thu May 7, 2009, 11:59 PM
Number of posts: 16,355

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Koch-Linked Firm Devoted to Grooming "Electable" Candidates Signs Up Arkansas GOP Leader

Just in case there was any doubt that the Republican party has become nothing more than PAC for billionaires, the oil industry, and the NRA, you have Koch hand picking who is a Republican candidate.

http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/koch-bruce-westerman-tom-cotton-arkansas-congress-aegis

n January, Mother Jones broke the story of one of the newest affiliates of Charles and David Koch's sprawling political machine, a consulting firm named Aegis Strategic created to identify, recruit, and groom free-market-minded candidates for elected office. Aegis bills itself as a one-stop shop for aspiring politicians, able to handle general consulting, fundraising, direct mail, social media, and more. The firm is run by Jeff Crank, a radio host and two-time congressional candidate who previously ran the Colorado chapter of Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group founded by the Koch brothers.

When we reported on the firm earlier this year, Aegis Strategic had only one client: Marilinda Garcia, a New Hampshire state lawmaker running for Congress. But new campaign filings show that Aegis has since signed up at least one more congressional hopeful: Bruce Westerman, the former Republican majority leader of the Arkansas state House.

Westerman is running to replace Rep. Tom Cotton in Arkansas' 4th Congressional District. (Cotton is now running for Senate and hoping to oust the incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor. Americans for Prosperity has spent millions of dollars attacking Pryor on the airwaves.) Westerman's campaign paid Aegis $4,000 for strategy consulting in March, campaign records show. (In January, Westerman also tweeted a photo of himself with Brad Stevens, Aegis Strategic's director of candidate identification, with the message, "Caught up with part of campaign team."

According to Westerman's campaign website, he was the first GOPer to lead the Arkansas House in 138 years. And he wouldn't have been in that position without the help of the Kochs' political network, especially Americans for Prosperity. During the 2012 election cycle, AFP reportedly spent upwards of $1 million in Arkansas on mailers, a bus tour (featuring Cliff from the TV show Cheers), phone banking, and grassroots canvassing. That effort helped flip both the state House and Senate from Democratic to Republican control. AFP figured so prominently in the 2012 cycle that the Arkansas Times named the Koch brothers "Arkansans of the Year."

"The Most Enduring Myth About the Presidency" - Norm Ornstein

A nice article by Norm Ornstein destroying the current narrative of blaming the President for Republican obstructionism.

http://www.nationaljournal.com/washington-inside-out/the-most-enduring-myth-about-the-presidency-20140422

I do understand the sentiment here and the frustration over the deep dysfunction that has taken over our politics. It is tempting to believe that a president could overcome the tribalism, polarization, and challenges of the permanent campaign, by doing what other presidents did to overcome their challenges. It is not as if passing legislation and making policy was easy in the old days.

But here is the reality, starting with the Johnson presidency…. [H]is drive for civil rights was aided in 1964 by having the momentum following John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and the partnership of Republicans Everett Dirksen and Bill McCullough, detailed beautifully in new books by Clay Risen and Todd Purdum. And Johnson was aided substantially in 1965-66 by having swollen majorities of his own party in both chambers of Congress – 68 of 100 senators, and 295 House members, more than 2-to-1 margins.

* * *

Ronald Reagan was a master negotiator, and he has the distinction of having two major pieces of legislation, tax reform and immigration reform, enacted in his second term, without the overwhelming numbers that Johnson enjoyed in 1965-66. What Reagan did have, just like Johnson had on civil rights, was active and eager partners from the other party. The drive for tax reform did not start with Reagan, but with Democrats Bill Bradley and Dick Gephardt, whose reform bill became the template for the law that ultimately passed. They, and Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski, were delighted to make their mark in history (and for Bradley and Gephardt, to advance their presidential ambitions) by working with the lame-duck Republican president. The same desire to craft transformative policy was there for both Alan Simpson and Ron Mazzoli, a Senate Republican and a House Democrat, who put together immigration legislation with limited involvement by the White House.

As for Bill Clinton, he was as politically adept as any president in modern times, and as charismatic and compelling as anyone. But the reality is that these great talents did not convince a single Republican to support his economic plan in 1993, nor enough Democrats to pass the plan for a crucial seven-plus months; did not stop the Republicans under Speaker Newt Gingrich from shutting down the government twice; and did not stop the House toward the end of his presidency from impeaching him on shaky grounds, with no chance of conviction in the Senate. The brief windows of close cooperation in 1996, after Gingrich’s humiliation following the second shutdown, were opened for pragmatic, tactical reasons by Republicans eager to win a second consecutive term in the majority, and ended shortly after they had accomplished that goal.

Conservative heavyweights have solar industry in their sights

I guess the argument is that all those Prius driving, solar panel deploying tree huggers are putting the hardworking real Americans who work for the oil industry out of work. I guess if you have billions of dollars and no conscience you can campaign to keep American dependent on fossil fuels by attacking alternative energy and denying climate change to maintain your stranglehold on American consumers.

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-solar-kochs-20140420,0,7412286.story#axzz2zOD4dbg6



*Americans for Prosperity, run by David Koch, shown here, and his brother, Charles, has led the effort to overturn a law in Kansas that requires 20% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources.*

WASHINGTON — The political attack ad that ran recently in Arizona had some familiar hallmarks of the genre, including a greedy villain who hogged sweets for himself and made children cry.

But the bad guy, in this case, wasn't a fat-cat lobbyist or someone's political opponent.

He was a solar-energy consumer.

* * *
The Koch brothers, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and some of the nation's largest power companies have backed efforts in recent months to roll back state policies that favor green energy. The conservative luminaries have pushed campaigns in Kansas, North Carolina and Arizona, with the battle rapidly spreading to other states.

New Yorker - Justice Roberts Defends the Embattled Rich

The billionaire sponsored pity party for the filthy rich continues.

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/closeread/2014/04/justice-roberts-defends-the-embattled-rich-in-mccutcheon.html

Chief Justice John Roberts’s majority opinion in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, in which the Supreme Court struck down aggregate limits on campaign donations, offers a novel twist in the conservative contemplation of what Nazis have to do with the way the rich are viewed in America. In January, Tom Perkins, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist, worried about a progressive Kristallnacht; Kenneth Langone, the founder of Home Depot, said, of economic populism, “If you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying in Germany. You don’t survive as a society if you encourage and thrive on envy or jealousy.” Roberts, to his credit, avoided claiming the mantle of Hitler’s victims for wealthy campaign donors. He suggests, though, that the rich are, likewise, outcasts: “Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects,” he writes:

If the First Amendment protects flag burning, funeral protests, and Nazi parades—despite the profound offense such spectacles cause—it surely protects political campaign speech despite popular opposition.


* * *

Roberts’s other argument is a little sad: “That same donor, meanwhile, could have spent unlimited funds on independent expenditures on behalf of Smith.” In other words, aggregate limits wouldn’t foster corruption, because using money to influence a campaign is much easier with the sort of independent expenditures that Citizens United makes possible.

* * *

But then Roberts relies on a very narrow measure of corruption: “Ingratiation and access … are not corruption,” he writes, quoting Citizens United. (There are a number of citations of Citizens United in this decision.) The argument of McCutcheon, in effect, is that a political party itself cannot, by definition, be corrupted: “There is a clear, administrable line between money beyond the base limits funneled in an identifiable way to a candidate—for which the candidate feels obligated—and money within the base limits given widely to a candidate’s party—for which the candidate, like all other members of the party, feels grateful.” The gratitude may only be for a place of safety where donors, assailed by the popular opinion of bitter, poorer people, can find a little bit of solace.

GOP candidates kiss up to billionaire Sheldon Adelson

Of course, the United Supreme Court, engaged in an odd bit of fact-finding by an appellate court that there is no evidence that the campaign finance limits at issue will serve to reduce the risk of corruption. Talk about legislating from the bench. An appellate court can simply disregard factual and legislative findings and substitute its policy perogatives for those of the elected legislative body because the Supreme Court thinks that campaign finance limits in question are not a panacea against corruption.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-gop-candidates-kiss-up-to-billionaire-sheldon-adelson/2014/04/01/5ba335dc-b9dc-11e3-9a05-c739f29ccb08_story.html

When Sheldon Adelson, the world’s eighth-richest person, according to Forbes, let it be known that he was looking for a Republican candidate to back in the 2016 presidential race, these four men rushed to Las Vegas over the weekend to see if they could arrange a quickie marriage in Sin City between their political ambitions and Adelson’s $39.9 billion fortune.

Adelson was hosting the Republican Jewish Coalition at his Venetian hotel and gambling complex, and the would-be candidates paraded themselves before the group, hoping to catch the 80-year-old casino mogul’s eye. Everybody knows that, behind closed doors, politicians often sell themselves to the highest bidder; this time, they were doing it in public, as if vending their wares at a live auction.

As The Post’s Philip Rucker reported, Kasich, the Ohio governor, kept addressing his speech to “Sheldon,” as if he were having a private tete-a-tete with the mega-donor (Adelson and his wife spent more than $93 million on the 2012 elections) and not speaking to a roomful of people.

* * *
In addition to Adelson, two of the world’s other top-10 billionaires, David and Charles Koch (combined net worth: $81 billion) are pouring tens of millions into the 2014 midterm elections in an effort to swing the Senate to Republican control. These and other wealthy people, their political contributions unleashed by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, are buying the U.S. political system in much the same way Russian oligarchs have acquired theirs. (Super-rich liberals such as Tom Steyer are spending some of their fortunes to help Democrats, but they are pikers by comparison.) Spending by super PACs, a preferred vehicle of billionaires, will surpass spending by all candidates combined this year, predicts Kantar Media, which tracks political advertising.



Creationists Demand Airtime On Neil deGrasse Tyson's 'Cosmos'

This story just further illustrates how corporate and uninformative our media has become. With the advent of false equivalency being substituted for an objective and unbiased goal in media, we now have creationists demanding equal time to push superstition on a level playing field with science.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/22/creationists-airtime-cosmos-neil-degrasse-tyson_n_5009234.html

Creationist groups have made yet another complaint about Neil deGrasse Tyson's "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey."

Since the show debuted on FOX this month, creationists have not kept quiet about the science documentary series. What's the problem now?

While some have shunned the reboot of Carl Sagan's 1980 PBS series altogether, other creationists now have made a request: equal airtime.

Appearing on "The Janet Mefferd Show" on Thursday, Danny Faulkner of Answers In Genesis voiced his complaints about "Cosmos" and how the 13-episode series has described scientific theories, such as evolution, but has failed to shed light on dissenting creationist viewpoints. He said:

Tyson recently addressed providing balance when it comes to discussing science. In an interview with CNN, the astronomer criticized the media for giving "equal time" to those who oppose widely accepted scientific theories.

"I think the media has to sort of come out of this ethos that I think was in principle a good one, but doesn't really apply in science. The ethos was, whatever story you give, you have to give the opposing view, and then you can be viewed as balanced," Tyson said, adding, "you don't talk about the spherical earth with NASA and then say let's give equal time to the flat-earthers
."

"Where are the positive stories about Obamacare?"

Here is a great story documenting some of the corporate censorship that is going on as the news media bends over backwards to help their corporate sponsors elect right wing Republicans.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hiltzik-20140323,0,1622096.column#axzz2wp4zeidk

If there were fairness in this world, Rita Rizzo would be a media star.

Rizzo, 60, owns a management consulting firm for nonprofit groups and government offices in Akron, Ohio, with her husband, Lou Vincent, 64. Vincent, who suffers from Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, has gone without health insurance for 10 years. "We got 30 denial letters," Rizzo told me last week.

Three years ago, Rizzo got a hip replacement. Her own insurance premiums were going to rise by $500 a month, to about $800, so she chose instead to triple her deductible to $6,000 to keep the increase to a mere $150 a month.

The couple used a $5,000 tax-deductible health savings account to cover her out-of-pocket expenses; Vincent's medication, which ran to $178 a month; and his blood work-ups, at $2,400 a year.

In December, Rizzo signed up for Obamacare. She now has a policy that covers her and Vincent together, including all his meds and lab work, for $379 a month, with a $2,000 family deductible.

* * *

But you haven't heard Rizzo's story unless you tuned in to NBC Nightly News on New Year's Day or scanned a piece by Politico about a week later. In the meantime, the airwaves and news columns have been filled to overflowing with horrific tales from consumers blaming Obamacare for huge premium increases, lost access to doctors and technical frustrations — many of these concerns false or the product of misunderstanding or unfamiliarity with the law.

"What killed the liberal radio star?" - Answer: Corporate Sponsor Boycott

This is a pretty good piece, but it does ignore the elephant in the room that corporate sponsors have often boycotted progressive media. A few years ago, a confidential ABC was disclosed that showed several sponsors specifically boycotting progressive shows. Conversely, Fox News and Rush Limbaugh get a significant amount of money from corporate sponsors and the 1 percent who are eager to support the spread of these viewpoints.

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/killed-liberal-radio-star-article-1.1557670

Next week, when WWRL 1600 AM flips its format from progressive talk to Spanish-language music and talk, New York will have no left-leaning commercial talk station for the first time in decades — an ironic development just as an unabashedly liberal mayor and City Council are set to take office.

It’s not as if liberal voices will vanish — noncommercial stations like WBAI and WNYC are still alive and kicking — but they can’t replace the local flavor and crackling energy of commercial radio, where shows move more quickly to accommodate the ads.

The changeover at WWRL comes as a personal blow: I was the morning drivetime host at the station from June 2008 through October 2010. Sad to say, the steady elimination of progressive radio from the airwaves is part of a nationwide crisis facing commercial radio.

In Los Angeles, the last remaining all-liberal talk station, KTLK, will do an about-face and start airing only conservative talkers on Jan. 1. Ditto for KNEW in San Francisco. Last November, progressive stations in Portland, Ore., and Seattle switched to all-sports formats.

The Search Is On for the GOP's Super-PAC Sugar Daddy

Gone are the days where you a million dollar contribution from George Soros was considered huge. Nowadays, if you score the support of a Koch Brother or Sheldon Adelson, you can have one donor singlehandedly make your campaign viable. They do not even have to contribute to you. They can just throw a hundred million in attack ads against Democrats generally.

http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/the-search-is-on-for-the-gop-s-super-pac-sugar-daddy-20140212

The race for a 2016 super-PAC sugar daddy is on.

"If I were running, I would think: Who is likely to want to fund a super PAC?" said Roy Bailey, a Dallas Republican who served as national finance chairman of Rudy Giuliani's 2008 presidential run. "A lot of people are financially capable. But who likes to play the sport? And who would be able to do it? I'd be all over 'em."

The rise of super PACs has amplified and accelerated the quadrennial donor chase. Candidates now know a single billionaire can make or break their fortunes—as they saw in 2012, when mega-donors Sheldon Adelson and Foster Friess propped up the candidacies of Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.

"You may want to just wear logos if you're running for president: 'sponsored by so-and-so.' I mean it's going to get to be like NASCAR where everybody should put logos on your suit," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who, of course, has a super PAC dedicated to reelecting him this year.


Obamacare ‘Bailout’ Actually Saves $8 Billion: CBO

Source: Yahoo Finance

Republicans filed out of a closed-door strategy session today without a final decision on how to approach the coming debate over raising the debt ceiling, according to The Washington Post. But a report issued by the Congressional Budget Office Tuesday morning may help make the decision for them.

Many congressional Republicans believe that they should not raise the nation’s borrowing limit unless President Obama agrees to give them something in return. Approval of the Keystone XL pipeline or a repeal of the so-called risk corridors in the Affordable Care Act are the two items topping their potential wish list. The CBO report might shift the balance between those options because it projects that the risk corridor program, which Republicans have insistently characterized as a bailout of the insurance industry, will probably generate a net profit for the federal government.

The risk corridors are a temporary measure to protect insurers from unexpectedly large losses in the first few years of the health care law’s implementation. Companies that incur costs from medical claims that are significantly higher than expected would be compensated by the government, and those with costs that are significantly below expectations would have to pay back part of that windfall, also to the government.

A joint analysis by the CBO and Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation found that in the coming years, the government will pay out an estimated $8 billion to insurers as part of the risk corridor program. That will be offset, however, by an estimated $16 billion paid back to the government by health insurers. The CBO had previously projected that the risk corridors would have no net impact on the budget.

Read more: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/obamacare-bailout-actually-saves-8-194100056.html



In addition to Republican lies about the ACA costing 2 million jobs, the so-called "bailout" talking point is also full of lies. The very same CBO report that Republicans cite note that the repeal of the risk corridor provisions that Republicans call a bailout would increase the deficit by $8 billion. Sadly, since Republicans would rather the ACA fail than help people, they probably see this as a good result. Increase misery for political effect sort of like a Christie created traffic jam.
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