Sunday, January 31, 2010


Is health care reform dead? Or just resting?

How The Dems Botched Their Signature Legislation

Rahm’s new timeline

How the GOP thinks of “bipartisan compromise”
[Steve Benen] House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) appeared on "Hardball" yesterday, and Chris Matthews asked a reasonable question in response to Pence's stated willingness to "compromise" with the White House. "What compromise would you say 'yes' to on health care? What compromise? Tell me the package; give me the main details."

The exact wording of Pence's initial reply was, "Well, look, you know, I was, uh, yeah, yeah, look, uh." He went on to say (twice) that he was pleased to see the president express support for allowing consumers to buy insurance across state lines. . . .


Watering down the DOJ report on the Yoo/Bybee torture memos

Stop confusing us! We KNOW the Dems are failures
A very productive Congress, despite what the approval ratings say

When is the military going to drop “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”? No time soon

Digby (as usual) makes a good point: Obama’s performance in front of the rabid House GOPers was calm, reasoned, thoughtful – the kinds of things that appeal to US. That doesn’t mean it helped him much with other groups (especially the way the press covered it, for people who didn’t actually watch any of it)

“Plenty of Republicans asked good and probing questions,” reports Marc Ambinder, “but Mike Pence, among others, found their arguments simply demolished by the president.” [read on]

Trying to save the teabagger convention
Tea Party Nation organizers today issued a long defense of their unraveling convention, lambasting former members they say are trying to harm the movement . . .


Is it something in the water?
[Dante Atkins] The Utah Legislature is moving forward with a bill that will criminalize "illegal abortions." The problem? It also criminalizes miscarriage. Big problem, right? Not really, says the bill sponsor, because they just won't prosecute!

Sunday talk show line-ups
STATE OF THE UNION (CNN): Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.); Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-Mich.); Robert Gibbs, White House press secretary; Robin Liss, president of; author Steven Levy; AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka; Republican analyst Mary Matalin; and Democratic analyst James Carville.

THIS WEEK (ABC): Sen.-elect Scott Brown (R-Mass.).

FACE THE NATION (CBS): Granholm; Govs. Haley Barbour (R-Miss.) and Ed Rendell (D-Pa.); and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.).

MEET THE PRESS (NBC): White house adviser David Axelrod; and Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).

Roger Ailes on ABC:
Roger Ailes, the Chairman and CEO of the Fox News Channel, will appear on ABC’s “This Week” on the roundtable segment. He will be joined by George Will, Arianna Huffington and Paul Krugman, in what could be one of the more interesting Sunday morning shows in recent history.

Bonus item: News you can use
People Can Tell Your Politics From Your Face

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I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Obama meets with the House GOP. Fascinating television.

What did they get out of it? Obama gets to say he reached out respectfully to his enemies; the GOP gets to say they presented him with “positive alternatives” and they aren’t just the “Party of No.”

Will anything change as a result of this conversation? Absolutely not
[Mike Madden] Before President Obama started speaking to the House Republican conference's retreat in Baltimore Friday, the GOP presented him with a little book, one that wrapped up all of the policy ideas they've had since he took office that have languished. It had a catchy title: "Better Solutions." The pamphlet may not be an ideal blueprint for governing -- it only takes 30 pages to wrap up everything from economic stimulus to national security to financial reform -- but, as it turned out, it did make for a pretty good prop. . . . [read on]


The full video:


Who won?
[GOP pollster] Frank Luntz: Obama Had The Advantage Today
[Luke Russert] GOP aides telling me it was a mistake to allow cameras into Obama's QA with GOP members. Allowed BO to refute GOP for 1.5 hours on TV
[Marc Ambinder] The moment President Obama began his address to Republicans in Baltimore today, I began to receive e-mails from Democrats: Here's an except from one of them: "I don't know whether to laugh or cry that it took a f$$@&$* year for Obama to step into the ring and start throwing some verbal blows... I'm definitely praying at mass on Sunday morning that this Obama doesn't take another 12 month vacation."

This e-mail comes from a very influential Democrat.

Accepting the invitation to speak at the House GOP retreat may turn out to be the smartest decision the White House has made in months . . . [read on]
[CNN] Rick Sanchez: the tweets I've seen so far seem to indicate, and frankly one of them was from Virginia Fox [R-NC], uh, but the tweets I've read seem to characterize this meeting as not so good, almost as --- they hate this guy.

Jessica Yellin: There is enormous frustration toward the president from Republicans in that room. . . .
But many of the Republicans in attendance were less conciliatory, accusing Obama of coming to their conference for the purpose of scoring political points – exactly the kind of cynical ploy he accused them of.

"His purpose was to talk to the American people...but I think the American people will see through it...and that he continues to push forward with proposals with which they strenuously disagree," said Tom Price (R-Ga.), chairman of the Republican Study Group. "[W]hen he says he's not an ideologue, the chuckles in the room were only compounded by the chuckles across the land,” he added.

How things work
Republicans use obstructionist tactics to prevent the Democratic majority from governing, and the Dem majority doesn't raise much of a fuss. Kevin Drum followed up on this by raising an important point . . .
[Kevin Drum] But take a step back: how are Democrats supposed to effectively raise a fuss? Republicans can do it easily: they just start bleating, and within a few hours their complaints are splashed across Drudge, repeated on a 24/7 loop on Fox News, the topic of email barrages from conservative interest groups, and the subject du jour of every talk radio show in the country. At that point the rest of the media picks up on the story because "people are talking about it." It's making waves. Which is true: it really is making waves because this kind of attention gets the conservative base genuinely outraged. And if something is getting lots of attention, then that by itself makes it a legitimate story regardless of its intrinsic merit.

But what megaphone do Democrats have? Virtually none. If they start complaining, some blogs will pick it up. Maybe Maddow and Olberman will talk about it. And that's it. There's no noise machine. And so there's nothing to force the rest of the media to bother with it unless they decide the underlying story itself is important. . . .
[Greg Sargent] GOP Senator Orrin Hatch is now warning that if Dems pass health care reform via reconciliation it will lead to permanent "war" between the two parties -- even though he voted for more than a half dozen GOP bills passed through the process known as ... reconciliation.

[Steve Benen] Specifically, Hatch, who's been around long enough to know better, said using the reconciliation process to make modifications to a health care bill would be "one of the worst grabs for power in the history of the country," and would create "outright war."

Greg Sargent ran a list of eight major pieces of legislation from the last decade that Hatch personally voted for, all of which were passed through reconciliation, and none of which prompted "outright war" between parties or lawmakers.

Maybe someone should encourage Hatch to read this report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, on the use of reconciliation by Republicans. . . .


Kicking health care down the road?
Sen. Mark Pryor, a conservative Democrat from Arkansas, is downplaying the chance of passing health care reform. "It's very possible that health care is just a stalemate and you can't solve it this year," said Pryor.
Rahm says we'll get to health care reform later

After days of demurring on health care, Harry Reid finally sounds a note of optimism: “I had a conversation with the speaker today, and we are moving forward.”

I know job creation is stagnant, but isn’t this a big story nonetheless?
U.S. Economy Grew at Fastest Pace in 6 Years Last Quarter


Looks like KSM and other terror suspects won’t be tried in NYC after all. This is seen as Obama’s DOJ backing down, but once Mayor Bloomberg switched positions and said he didn’t want the trials there, they didn’t really have any choice. Where they’re tried is less important than the fact that they GET trials, however

The long-overdue DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility report on the custom-made torture rationalizations from John Yoo and others is finally being dribbled out. And it looks like a whitewash is underway
[Newsweek] While the probe is sharply critical of the legal reasoning used to justify waterboarding and other “enhanced” interrogation techniques, NEWSWEEK has learned that a senior Justice official who did the final review of the report softened an earlier OPR finding. Previously, the report concluded that two key authors—Jay Bybee, now a federal appellate court judge, and John Yoo, now a law professor—violated their professional obligations as lawyers when they crafted a crucial 2002 memo approving the use of harsh tactics, say two Justice sources who asked for anonymity discussing an internal matter. But the reviewer, career veteran David Margolis, downgraded that assessment to say they showed “poor judgment,” say the sources. (Under department rules, poor judgment does not constitute professional misconduct.) The shift is significant: the original finding would have triggered a referral to state bar associations for potential disciplinary action—which, in Bybee’s case, could have led to an impeachment inquiry. [read on]

OMG! The Republican party is collapsing!
Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN) will announce he will not seek reelection, WISH-TV reports.

For those keeping score, that's 15 GOP retirements as compared to 12 on the Democratic side. . . [read on]

RNC Chairman Michael Steele: they just don’t like my style

“Purity” lite resolution passes RNC

Serious? Or a joke? Or a serious joke?
No matter how much Alito may bobble his head in disagreement with the President over the Supreme Court's recent ruling on Citizens United v. FEC, this is the next logical step in affirming corporate personhood.

Corporation Murray Hill, Inc. has decided to run for the Maryland's 8th congressional district seat, one currently held by DCCC chief Chris Van Hollen. Murray Hill, Inc., will be running as a Republican(s?). From their corporate website . . . [read on]

Good news: the “I was just trying to save lives” defense didn’t work for him
Scott Roeder Found Guilty of First Degree Murder

James O’Keefe wants the raw footage of his trickster visit to Mary Landrieu’s office released, to prove they weren’t actually trying to bug her phones – but not the raw footage of his infamous ACORN visits

Portraying himself as an "investigative journalist" who has been victimized by the mainstream media's "journalistic malpractice," James O'Keefe said today the alleged phone-tampering episode in New Orleans Monday was merely an attempt to investigate Sen. Mary Landrieu's alleged lack of responsiveness to her conservative constituents.

In a statement posted on Andrew Breitbart's Big Government site, O'Keefe writes: "On reflection, I could have used a different approach to this investigation, particularly given the sensitivities that people understandably have about security in a federal building." . . .

Tim Tebow’s “I’m glad my mommy didn’t abort me” Super Bowl ad may be based on a lie

Theocracy watch
Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is not backing down from her criticisms over the National Organization for Women's demand that CBS cease from airing a pro-life commercial during the Superbowl.

"For a pro-life, pro-woman, pro-family ad to be seen as offensive and not empowering women is puzzling," Palin told Fox News' Greta Van Susteren Thursday. "It makes you wonder what is NOW afraid of?"

The ad in question is paid for by the conservative political action group Focus on the Family and features Heisman-winning college quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam, discussing her decision not to have an abortion even though doctors recommended it at the time. Deciding against an abortion, she gave birth to Tim, who grew up to be an all-star quarterback at the University of Florida and perhaps one of the best college quarterbacks of all time. . . .

Brilliant idea – and make her your Presidential nominee while you’re at it!
Former vice presidential candidate and current Fox News contributor Sarah Palin said last night that the Republican Party should merge with tea partiers.

Fox's Greta Van Susteren asked if tea party candidates would end up siphoning votes from GOP nominees, or if the movement will "merge with the Republican Party."

"They need to merge," Palin said. "Definitely, they need to merge. . .”

For $100,000 a speech, are you kidding?
The former Alaska governor still plans to speak at the much-maligned National Tea Party Convention next month in Nashville. "You betcha I'm going to be there” . . .

And hundreds of tickets for the convention, now just a week away, are said to still be available.

The new survey of Alaska by Public Policy Polling (D) finds that the state that gave Sarah Palin to American politics is no longer that enamored with her. . . .

Wow – tough campaign
Ad For Orleans Coroner Candidate: My Opponent Is Dr. Frankenstein! [watch!]

Bonus item: “How to Report the News” (very funny)

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Friday, January 29, 2010


The media seems to have a hard time keeping in mind the simple dynamic that’s at work here. It has nothing to do with “failed bipartisanship” or “finding middle ground” or all those warm, fuzzy myths the Villagers like to dream about. It’s about a GOP minority that decided early on to give Obama NOTHING, to prevent, block, or delay every legislative accomplishment, and then to blame him and the Dems for not getting more done.

From the day of the inauguration they’ve said openly that they want Obama to fail. And yet people seem to have trouble taking them at their word. It is EXACTLY what they intend to do.

Here’s the proof: they’re absolutely refusing to support even proposals that DO take up their issues (deficit reduction, support for small businesses to build jobs, etc)

Whither independents?
Did The SOTU Bring Independents Back To Obama?


The GOP is at war with itself, but that doesn’t fit the narrative, so it has to be ignored
Steele Opposes 'Purity' Resolution, Says 'Ronald Reagan Would Be Ashamed'
RNC Member Bopp: Steele 'Misstates Reagan's Position'
Bachmann Is Latest To Pull Out Of Tea Party Convention


Who cares what this guy thinks any more?
[Steve Benen] The problem with news outlets constantly turning to former Mayor Rudy Giuliani for "political analysis" is three-fold. First, he's an irrelevant figure with predictable observations. Second, he says things that are clearly false. And third, he hasn't the foggiest idea what he's talking about, but he keeps getting invited back.

Take this morning, for example. Giuliani appeared on CNN and Fox News to attack the State of the Union, and made a variety of ridiculous claims. According to the former mayor, President Obama (1) "ignored national security" during the speech; (2) "didn't talk about the Christmas almost-bomber"; and (3) didn't use the word "Islamic terrorism."

In Grown-Up Land, these claims aren't just misleading, they're obvious lies. . . .[read on]

WP: U.S. torture policy was Nancy Pelosi’s fault!

The new spin on O’Keefe: it wasn’t a CRIME, it was just KIDS, pulling a PRANK

Mary Landrieu responds:
Sen. Mary Landrieu is blasting the men charged with tampering with the phones at her New Orleans office, dismissing a new explanation from the attorney of one of the men as "feeble." . . .

Andrew Breitbart tries manically to change the subject



Mark Halperin knows the difference between good journalism and slumming, which makes his slumming all the more embarrassing

Because CNN doesn’t have enough conservative commentators

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Thursday, January 28, 2010


A speech for grown-ups

“One year ago, I took office amid two wars, an economy rocked by severe recession, a financial system on the verge of collapse, and a government deeply in debt. Experts from across the political spectrum warned that if we did not act, we might face a second depression. So we acted . . .

Our most urgent task upon taking office was to shore up the same banks that helped cause this crisis. It was not easy to do. And if there’s one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans, it’s that we all hated the bank bailout. I hated it. You hated it. It was about as popular as a root canal.

But when I ran for President, I promised I wouldn’t just do what was popular – I would do what was necessary. And if we had allowed the meltdown of the financial system, unemployment might be double what it is today. More businesses would certainly have closed. More homes would have surely been lost. . . .

[On health care] I did not choose to tackle this issue to get some legislative victory under my belt. And by now it should be fairly obvious that I didn’t take on health care because it was good politics.

I took on health care because of the stories I’ve heard from Americans with pre-existing conditions whose lives depend on getting coverage; patients who’ve been denied coverage; and families – even those with insurance – who are just one illness away from financial ruin. . . .

I never thought the mere fact of my election would usher in peace, harmony, and some post-partisan era. I knew that both parties have fed divisions that are deeply entrenched. And on some issues, there are simply philosophical differences that will always cause us to part ways. These disagreements, about the role of government in our lives, about our national priorities and our national security, have been taking place for over two hundred years. They are the very essence of our democracy.

But what frustrates the American people is a Washington where every day is Election Day. We cannot wage a perpetual campaign where the only goal is to see who can get the most embarrassing headlines about their opponent . . .

I campaigned on the promise of change – change we can believe in, the slogan went. And right now, I know there are many Americans who aren’t sure if they still believe we can change – or at least, that I can deliver it.

But remember this – I never suggested that change would be easy, or that I can do it alone. Democracy in a nation of three hundred million people can be noisy and messy and complicated. And when you try to do big things and make big changes, it stirs passions and controversy. That’s just how it is.

Those of us in public office can respond to this reality by playing it safe and avoid telling hard truths. We can do what’s necessary to keep our poll numbers high, and get through the next election instead of doing what’s best for the next generation. . . .

We have finished a difficult year. We have come through a difficult decade. But a new year has come. A new decade stretches before us. We don’t quit. I don’t quit. Let’s seize this moment – to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more. . . ."

The full text:

[Taegan Goddard] There were also several political moments you might see again in this fall's midterm campaigns. The video of Republicans sitting on their hands while Obama called for banks to pay back bailout funds will almost certainly come back to haunt them. . . .


Inside the chamber
When Obama talked about "what we did for eight years" that lead to record deficits, Democrats cheered loudly and one person from that side of the chamber could be heard saying, "Oh, snap!" . . . [more]

Taking on the Supremes
[SR] Maybe it's just because I'm a poli sci major turned lawyer, but that moment when he turned to the Supremes and took them directly to task for the Citizens United opinion, and then watching the majority look completely taken aback as the other branch of government stood up, looked at them and cheered actually stunned me a bit.

I know I've never seen anything like that happen in a SOTU . . .
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. responded to President Obama's criticism Wednesday night of a Supreme Court decision last week by appearing to mouth the words "not true." . . .


Wait! Haven’t we been told that EVERYONE loves the Republicans now?
People blame Republicans for America's problems
Far more have a positive view of Obama (52%) than of the Democratic Party (39%) or the GOP (32%). . . .

Stop me if this sounds familiar: progressive Dems make all the concessions on health care, conservaDems stab them in the back anyway
[The Hill] Centrist Democratic senators have circumvented party leadership to approach Maine GOP Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins about reviving healthcare talks.

Democrats such as Sens. Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), Bill Nelson (Fla.) and Max Baucus (Mont.) have approached Snowe within the past week to discuss her potential support for various healthcare proposals. . . .

How serious are the Repubs about deficit reduction, really?
Six Republicans Vote Against Bill They Sponsored


Is cap-and-trade dead?

How the permanent filibuster has ruined our polity

Dang: GOP rejects collective suicide pact (I was so hoping. . .)
Key RNC Members Reject Purity Resolution

Pre-emptive assassination: it doesn’t protect you to be a US citizen
[WP] After the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush gave the CIA, and later the military, authority to kill U.S. citizens abroad if strong evidence existed that an American was involved in organizing or carrying out terrorist actions against the United States or U.S. interests, military and intelligence officials said. . . .

The Obama administration has adopted the same stance. . . . [read on]

The CIA is in the business of disinformation – it’s what they do, usually directed toward others. So why do people assume that they tell US the truth?
Three years ago former CIA operative John Kiriakou famously told ABC News that al-Qaeda insider Abu Zubaydah cracked after a single 35-second waterboarding session. "From that day on, he answered every question," Kiriakou said. . . .

DR's Corner: "E Pluribus, Unum" or "Ex Duos, Bellum"?

With apologies to Dame Rose McCauley, Obama's first State of the Union address was a speech to kill time for those who prefer it dead. However, for those of us able to engage in some creative multi-tasking, as opposed to those whose attention was riveted solely to Obama's every practiced gesture and faux-folksy inflection, those 71 minutes were not a complete loss.

The only shred of real 'truthiness' came late in Obama's speech with this casual observation:

"I knew that both parties have fed divisions that are deeply entrenched. And on some issues, there are simply philosophical differences that will always cause us to part ways. These disagreements, about the role of government in our lives, about our national priorities and our national security, they've been taking place for over 200 years. They're the very essence of our democracy."

In the late 18th century there were simply philosophical differences with England that caused us to part ways. But we triumphed in bloody revolutionary war and were able to forge the "essence of our democracy".

During the middle of the 19th century there were simply philosophical differences between Americans that caused us to part ways. We were awkwardly reunited as a nation after some Americans triumphed in bloody military conquest over the others, thereby re-establishing that "essence of our democracy".

So, what's going on these days?

To be frank, there is a vision of America desired by roughly 50% of Americans where women are not free, where Christianity is written into the history books as the official religion, where gays and lesbians are not equal under the law, where health care is not a right but a privilege, where unrestrained capitalism is the highest social good, where the corporate-military complex imposes pro-American reform upon foreign governments and steals their natural resources at will, and where the science of global climatology is dismissed as a sinister plot. Progressives do not think of that America as simply philosophically disagreeable, we think of that America as vile and repugnant to the dignity of humanity, and it would be utterly intolerable to live in such a nation.

I am among the roughly 50% of American 'leftists' who believe that all people are free and equal under law, that women have an inalienable right to choice and self-determination, that gays and lesbians are fully equal in all ways as human beings, that no religion should be represented as officially dominant by the state, that health care is not only a basic human right, but a matter of national security, where capitalism is fettered to serve mankind, not free to enslave mankind, where our military forces serve a well-defined 'conservative' (in the truest sense) mission of strict national defense, and where our planet is considered a precious common resource we share equally with all other beings. But roughly half of 'my fellow Americans' do not merely 'disagree philosophically' with that vision of America. They consider that America as offensive, vile, and repugnant to their tradition, faith, and dignity and it would be utterly intolerable for them to live in such a nation.

To wit:

And don't miss this one...
[2010 Republican U.S. Senate candidate Richard Behney] Personally, I’m a free man, or I’m a dead man. And I’ve got news for Barack Hussein Obama, and in my case, Evan Bayh: that in 2010, we ain’t calling you out, we’re throwing you out. … That’s the good news folks, we can do it before it gets to guns. Alright, our founders brought out the guns when they showed up at Lexington and Concord. … I believe personally, we’re at a crossroads. We have one last opportunity. And I believe 2010 is it. Alright, and we can do it with our vote, and we can get new faces in. Whether it’s my face or not, I pray to God I see new faces. If we don’t see new faces, I’m cleaning my guns and getting ready for a big show. And I’m serious about that and I bet you are, too.”

This is met by murmurs of approval and an audible amen from the audience.

So, is the best that Americans can hope for going forward to remain locked in eternal escalating 'philosophical disagreement', voicing outright contempt, hatred and mockery of each other, coloring our rhetoric with tones of armed revolution? Has the "Purƒuit of Happineƒƒ" become the pursuit of quelling open armed conflict and limiting manifest bloodshed? Are our present day 'philosophical disagreements' any less significant and meaningful to us than those that divided the colonialists from England, or the North from the South?

View from the Corner: The central question we need to confront is whether or not Americans still stand together as "one people". Increasingly, it appears, we do not. The bonds of civility that have held us together since 1865 are frail and strained. And the truth is that the state of our union is "f**ked up".

An indictment of our educational system: more people find “Fox News” a reliable source of news

But MOST people don’t:

How Fox News decides what is important

Bonus item: How the tide turns
[Kevin Drum, on press coverage of Obama] Yesterday: calm and cool. Today: flat and remote, doesn't show enough passion. . . [read on for more]

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Remember the infamous “pimp and ho” video that set up some local ACORN workers, then made the rounds of the right-wing media circuit to “prove” that ACORN was a corrupt organization? Now we know the kind of people who were behind making it
The conservative young filmmaker whose undercover sting damaged a liberal activist group last year faces federal criminal charges in an alleged plot to bug the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.). . . .


The radical behind the “Citizen’s United” Supreme Court case – and what he wants to tackle next
James Bopp Jr. likes to begin speeches by reading the First Amendment. He calls opponents, including President Obama, “socialists.” He runs a national law practice out of a small office in Terre Haute, Ind., because he prefers the city’s conservative culture. . . .

Mr. Bopp won his biggest victory last week when the Supreme Court ruled that corporations, unions and nonprofit groups have the right to spend as much as they want supporting or opposing the election of a candidate.

Mr. Bopp was not present in the courtroom. His client — not for the first time — replaced him with a less ideological and more experienced Washington lawyer when the case reached the justices.

But it was Mr. Bopp who had first advised the winning plaintiff, the conservative group Citizens United, about using its campaign-season film “Hillary: The Movie” as a deliberate test of the limits on corporate political spending. And he shepherded the case through appeals to the Supreme Court as part of a long-term legal strategy that he says he has just begun.

“We had a 10-year plan to take all this down,” he said in an interview. “And if we do it right, I think we can pretty well dismantle the entire regulatory regime that is called campaign finance law.” . . .

[Reader DN] One of the many interesting things in the article is that it outlines what future things are on his agenda, including getting rid of campaign spending disclosure requirements for where the money’s coming from.

Note: The article mentions that Bopp Jr was replaced by another attorney just before the case went to the Supreme Court , but it “forgot” to mention that his replacement was good old Ted Olson, who argued Bush v. Gore – How could those 5 conservative justices turn down good old Ted's carefully reasoned arguments?

For that matter, the article also “forgot” to mention that the organization that brought the complaint, “Citizen’s United”, is headed by good old dirty trickster David Bossie, who along with his friend Floyd G. Brown has been at war with Bill and Hillary Clinton since their days in Arkansas. (He also was the investigator for Dan Burton (R-Indiana) who won the Conservative Political Action Conference’s Ronald Reagan Award for doctoring the Webb Hubbell prison wiretap tapes.) Here’s Bossie's website:

Bopp’s latest venture
The Republican National Committee is headed to Hawaii this week for its winter meeting. One of the top issues on the agenda, being put forward in a series of resolutions on Friday by Indiana committee member James Bopp Jr., is whether the party's candidates will be conservative enough -- and what steps the party can take to enforce it.

Bopp is offering two key resolutions. The first is a test that requires GOP candidates to show that they hold conservative positions on eight out of ten key conservative positions . . .

[Steve Benen] Sen.-elect Scott Brown (R-Mass.), the party's new golden boy, probably would have failed the purity test and been ineligible for party support during the special election. . . . [read on]

The new teabagger campaign slogan: elect our candidates, or we start shooting

The House tells the Senate it’s ready to deal on health care. The Senate’s playing hard to get

And the Republicans continue to block everything
The GOP Senate leadership has privately settled on a strategy to derail health reform if Dems try to pass the Senate bill with a fix through reconciliation, aides say: Unleash an endless stream of amendments designed to stall for time and to force Dems to take untenable votes. . . . [read on]
The senior Republican on the Budget Committee, Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, said Democrats would have trouble executing their strategy. “It would be a very hard lift,” Mr. Gregg said. “We would make it an extraordinarily difficult exercise.”


The Senate on Tuesday rejected a plan to create a powerful commission that would recommend ways to slash future federal budget deficits, but the close vote underscored that tackling the problem is an increasingly urgent priority.

The Senate voted 53-46 to approve the commission plan, but under Senate rules, 60 votes were needed for passage. . . .

Rahm Emanuel, tough guy

I’ve always thought the 60 vote majority was exaggerated – and even thought the GOP purposely hyped how unstoppable the Dems were, because it served their purposes to depict a liberal juggernaut about to roll over them. But they knew it wouldn’t actually work that way
[VP Joe Biden] "Yes it's had a practical impact, but I'm not so sure what a blessing 60 votes was. Not a joke, I mean it sincerely. When we had sixty votes there was the expectation left, right, and center that we could do everything we wanted to do, which was never realistic. Never."

DR's Corner: Obama 2.0

With tonight's State of the Union, the hope of meaningful change for America has taken a back seat to the hope of meaningful change in Obama himself. Over the last week, harsh criticism and outright mockery of Obama has risen to a fever pitch from the right-wing, but the left has been right there too:

From the right:

From the middle:

From the left:

Any hope that Obama can reform his image in one speech is as misplaced as the hope that America could be reformed in one presidential term. We the People need to grow up and recognize that Obama represents (or perhaps sadly now 'once represented') the beginning of positive meaningful change, not that change itself.

View From the Corner: For some, "hope for change" now means "hope Obama will change." But hasn't "hope for change" always really meant "hope that We the People change?"

Bonus item: Ouch!
[MS] I think I get what Obama and the congressional Dems are up to.... Their plan is to become the minority in Congress again. That approach worked very well for them circa 2005.... they really found their stride. Then from that base they can regain the Congress and really implement some inspiring changes.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Obama's pivot to the center begins with a freeze on govt spending
President Obama will propose freezing non-security discretionary government spending for the next three years, a sweeping plan to attempt deficit reduction that will save taxpayers $250 billion over 10 years. . . .


Ho hum:
[Kevin Drum] Just to be clear: $250 billion over the coming decade, even if Obama miraculously makes this work, is $250 billion out of a projected deficit of, oh, let's call it $10 trillion in round numbers. In other words, about 2 or 3 percent.

And in return for what? The liberal base now has yet another reason to be disgusted with Obama, so the obvious hope is that independents are going to lap this up. And who knows? Maybe they will. But what I wonder is this: hasn't Obama's pivot happened too quickly to seem like anything other than what it increasingly is: a panicky and transparent attempt to recover from the Massachusetts tsunami? Given that, is anyone going to buy it? Or is it just going to come across as a thinly veiled and poll approved effort to "connect" with voter angst without really doing anything substantive? . . .
[Mark Kleiman] A spending freeze is a stupid idea. Fortunately, as far as I can tell, Barack Obama does not in tend to propose one. He’s proposing an overall budget cap on discretionary non-security spending, but intends to move money around within that cap. If he’d called it “cut and invest,” there wouldn’t be quite such howls of outrage.

I’m still not happy . . .

On the deficit
Obama Endorses Bipartisan Debt Commission Opposed By Progressives

What to do about jobs

Inside baseball
Filibuster 2.0: How 41 Senators Control The Country Without Actually Filibustering

'Make Them Filibuster': Gov. Rendell Tells President Obama, Democrats, to Play 'Hardball'

I think we all have a pretty good idea of the kind of people who sign up with Blackwater. But who knew it was as bad as this?

Fallout of the Supreme Court decision on corporate political spending
Game Change: Corporations Mulling How To Exploit New Money-In-Politics Rules
Beyond The Hype: How Citizens United Will -- And Won't -- Change Politics

What to do:
Despite court ruling, Congress can still limit campaign finance

It’s about time
The ACLU filed suit Friday in a bid to force the Justice Department to release its internal report on torture.

The long-awaited report from the department's Office of Professional Ethics considers whether DOJ lawyers like John Yoo broke ethics rules in writing the memos that approved torture.

In November, Attorney General Eric Holder testified that it would likely be out by the end of the month. . . .

Don’t complicate things with the facts!
The Associated Press published the most comprehensive account to date of Abdulmutallab’s interrogation and found no evidence that Mirandization inhibited interrogators’ access to valuable information. FBI interrogators, to the contrary, read him his Miranda rights after they were satisfied that he had no further information about any further attacks. . . .

The return of David Plouffe: what does it mean? does it matter?

How the GOP does fundraising,-duping-people-is-the-point
"Of course, duping people is the point"

Well, I guess it’s refreshing that he didn’t offer some phony-baloney “apology” – SC Repub reiterates his belief that poor people are like stray animals

Bonus item: Fake op-ed by Rush Limbaugh, in The Onion. Don’t miss it

More ridicule:

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Monday, January 25, 2010


How’s that workin’ for ya?
The Obama legislative agenda was built around an "advancing tide" theory.

Democrats would start with bills that targeted relatively narrow problems, such as expanding health care for low-income children, reforming Pentagon contracting practices and curbing abuses by credit-card companies. Republicans would see the victories stack up and would want to take credit alongside a popular president. As momentum built, larger bipartisan coalitions would form to tackle more ambitious initiatives. . . . [read on]

John McCain, still determined to play Wise Daddy to Obama, advises the young pup on how to advance health care
Mr. McCain, a Republican from Arizona, said on the CBS news program “Face the Nation” that President Obama should sit down with Republican leaders and begin adopting some of their ideas for improving the nation’s health care system . . .

[Mitch McConnell] Put the CSPAN cameras in the room as the President said. You start with junk lawsuits against doctors and hospitals. Interstate competition among insurance companies. And many of my members would be lookin’ — would — would be willing to look at equalizing the tax code. Right now, if you’re a corporation and you provide insurance — for your employees, you get to deduct it on your corporate tax return. But if you’re an individual on the individual market, you don’t. Step by step to work on the cost problem. That’s what Republicans are willing to do. . . .

Surrender and declare victory?

Video, Senator DeMint, we’ve got video
Sen. Jim DeMint is now denying that his intention was to break the president.

"I did not want this to be the president's Waterloo," DeMint told ABC's Terry Moran Sunday.


Makes you wanna scream
[Digby] In case you were wondering, the consensus on all the Sunday gasbag shows is that Obama is an abject failure because of his radical leftist ideology and that his only hope of even maintaining the presidency, much less winning a second term is to take a sharp turn to the right and enact the Republican agenda. . . .


Obama wants Congress to respond to the Supreme Court decision giving corporations even greater influence over the political process. Will they do anything about it?

Will one unintended consequence of the SC decision be to allow a channel for international sources to funnel money into influencing US elections? Looks like it

Well, OF COURSE it’s national security
U.S. securities regulators originally treated the New York Federal Reserve's bid to keep secret many of the details of the American International Group bailout like a request to protect matters of national security, according to emails obtained by Reuters.

The request to keep the details secret were made by the New York Federal Reserve -- a regulator that helped orchestrate the bailout -- and by the giant insurer itself, according to the emails.

The emails from early last year reveal that officials at the New York Fed were only comfortable with AIG submitting a critical bailout-related document to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission after getting assurances from the regulatory agency that "special security procedures" would be used to handle the document. . . .

[NB: Something more for Tim Geithner to answer for.]

Symbiosis between Fox News and the teabaggers – each serves the other

DR's Corner: Unintended Consequences and the Teabagger Paradox of Chinese Hackers

The big-surveillance/small-government right wingers are strangely silent when their best laid plans go astray:
[Bruce Schneier] Google made headlines when it went public with the fact that Chinese hackers had penetrated some of its services, such as Gmail, in a politically motivated attempt at intelligence gathering. The news here isn't that Chinese hackers engage in these activities or that their attempts are technically sophisticated -- we knew that already -- it's that the U.S. government inadvertently aided the hackers.

In order to comply with government search warrants on user data, Google created a backdoor access system into Gmail accounts. This feature is what the Chinese hackers exploited to gain access. . . . [read on]

Of course the issues and implications involved are far too advanced for garden variety teabaggers to grasp. So here's an easier story, at the teabagger grade level:
Britain's The Mail is running a story this morning with new details on the hacked email scandal, known as Climategate. The paper reports that the stolen emails from some of the world's top climate scientists were funneled through computers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to a server in Russia, where they were displayed on an FTP. They also say that they have evidence that the hackers were Chinese, putting a new twist on the evolving story. . . .

View From the Corner: In light of attacks by Chinese hackers on journalists and activists (notorious left wingers by their nature), and the hacker's heroic efforts uncovering evidence exposing the global warming fraud, don't be surprised if teabaggers start treating Chinese hackers as downright praise-worthy.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010


Frank Rich lays down the challenge
Tuesday’s special election was a dire omen for this White House. If the administration sticks to this trajectory, all bets are off for the political future of a president who rode into office blessed with more high hopes, good will and serious promise than any in modern memory. It’s time for him to stop deluding himself. . . . [read on]

Matt Yglesias makes an interesting point here. Even if Coakley had beaten Brown, health care reform would probably still be in trouble right now. It merely got easier for the Dems to blame other factors than their own divisiveness and disorganization

Voters are angry: but at whom? and why?,-But-At-What
[Dem from CT] Actually the polls from MA show something very different. There's anger and frustration (you don't need a poll to know that) but it's directed at not getting things done. . .

The point has been made before, but this analysis is especially compelling: the Dems are going to take exactly the same hit on health care in the fall from the Repubs regardless of whether they pass it now or not. So why not pass it?
[Jonathan Bernstein] Democrats can be assured that Republicans will attack them, regardless of what they do....That's politics. It's how partisan politics is played.

....Don't believe me? Republicans are attacking Democrats for taking away people's guns, even though the Democrats basically surrendered on that issue fifteen years ago. They are attacking Democrats for cutting Medicare and for allowing Medicare to grow so fast that it'll bankrupt the nation — sometimes in the very same speech (I've seen it in the same paragraph). Republicans have, repeatedly, attacked Barack Obama for not using a word he uses all the time. Last I heard, they were still attacking the Democrats for bringing back the Fairness Doctrine, something that as far as I know not a single elected Democrat has any interest in doing. No, it didn't make sense, but if they don't have attacks ready that make sense, they'll use ones that don't.

[Kevin Drum] Well, guess what: it's not going to stop no matter what kind of healthcare bill you pass — or even if you pass no healthcare bill at all. So buck up, pass the Senate bill, fix it in reconciliation, and then get out on the stump and defend it. You don't win elections by cowering, you win them by getting stuff done and making sure your constituents know about it. So get cracking.

Obama seizes upon the corporation-friendly Supreme Court decision to refresh his populist rhetoric,-bipartisan-response-to-campaign-finance-decision
[T]his week, the United States Supreme Court handed a huge victory to the special interests and their lobbyists – and a powerful blow to our efforts to rein in corporate influence. This ruling strikes at our democracy itself. . . .

[NB: Something tells me that the “anti-establishment” teabaggers won’t get anywhere near as upset about this as they did Obama’s health care plan – and that Republicans won’t pay a price at all for embracing the SC decision.]

Letter to the editor, from the New York Times
By means of two legal fictions, that corporations are people and money is speech, the Roberts court has turned America from a democracy to a plutocracy.
- Norman N. Holland
Gainesville, Fla., Jan. 22, 2010

Glenn Greenwald disagrees:

[WP] Obama's proposed rules for banks could stall financial reform

[NB: Uh, yeah, right. You don’t want to muddy the waters for financial reform by proposing, uh, BANK REGULATIONS, do ya?]

Is the Fed Chairman’s reappointment in trouble?

The U.S. will appeal a court decision dismissing manslaughter charges against five Blackwater Worldwide guards involved in a deadly 2007 Baghdad shooting . . .

Sometimes conspiracy theorists may be right
[London Evening Standard] A highly unusual ruling by Lord Hutton, who chaired the inquiry into Dr [David] Kelly’s death, means medical records including the post-mortem report will remain classified until after all those with a direct interest in the case are dead . . . [read on]

The kind of people they are
"My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better."

-- South Carolina Lt. Governor Andre Bauer (R), quoted by the Greenville News, comparing poor people to stray animals.

The “T” word
[Tristero] On the front page of tomorrow's Book Review, Walter Isaacson manages to discuss John Yoo's latest rantings without once using the word "torture."
[Isaacson] In “Crisis and Command,” his sweeping history of presidential prerogatives, John Yoo argues that national security crises inevitably ratchet up the power of the president at the expense of Congress. . . .

During George W. Bush’s first term, Yoo served in the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department, where he wrote memos that asserted the president had the power to authorize the use of interrogation techniques like waterboarding, instigate a program of warrantless wiretapping and detain certain enemy combatants without applying the Geneva Conventions. . . .

“Some may read this book as a brief for the Bush administration’s exercise of executive authority in the war on terrorism,” Yoo writes. “It is not.” But it most certainly is precisely that . . .

Bonus item: Guys and their trucks
Scott Brown, Fred Thompson and the Authenticity of Trucks

[NB: Remember this photo of George Bush? (And notice the bulge on his back that everyone assumed was a transceiver.)]

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***