Friday, January 29, 2010

An Important Tell

Joe Sudbay
Capping off his busy week, Obama is heading to Baltimore today to meet with the House Republicans at their "Issues Conference." The President is committed to bipartisanship. The House Republicans are committed to destroying his agenda. But, this will undoubtedly be a productive meeting with lots of smiles and good photo ops for both sides. They can resume the battle when they're all back in D.C.
Greg Sargent

* With Obama meeting House GOPers today in big show of bipartisan outreach, Republicans are grappling with a thorny strategic conundrum: Is the only way to shed the “Party of No” label to stop saying No to everything?

* Conservatives grudgingly accept the reality that forcing GOP candidates to hew to a rigid set of right-wing principles might not help the party grow nationally.

* No one could have predicted that Republicans would declare victory if Obama based his policies on their ideology and world view! As Dave Weigel reports, that’s exactly what they’re doing: Taking credit for Obama’s spending freeze.

* Those hoping to rally the public with a campaign to kill filibusters have a problem: Only one in four Americans knows that 60 votes are required to break them. Takeaway: Dems have not successfully communicated the depth of GOP obstructionism to the public.

* And Dan Pfeiffer tells Politico that the White House will step up efforts to spotlight GOP obstructionism, but this quote may irk folks a bit:

“With 59 Senators, it is mathematically impossible for Democrats to do everything on their own.”

Some will respond that it’s only mathematically impossible if Dems accept filibuster abuse as inevitable and immutable, rather than something that can be campaigned against and even possibly changed. But the White House doesn’t appear to have an appetite for doing that.

Right wing demonstrates strange affinity for pimps Jan. 28: Dale Robertson, who owns embarrassed some of his tea party colleagues by sending a fundraising letter with an altered photo of President Obama as a pimp.

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Kleefeld (TPM): Franken: Pro-Reform Bumper Stickers Have 'Just Way Too Many Words'

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) spoke to a group of health care reform activists today, and called upon the House of Representatives to pass the Senate bill. He also discussed the political disadvantages that reform advocates face.

"The opponents of reform have found their bumper sticker, their slogan, their rallying cry, it's one word: No. You can read that on a bumper," said Franken. "Our bumper sticker has -- it's just way too many words. And it says, 'Continued on next bumper sticker.'"

Franken also sought to calm liberals' objections to the Senate bill: "We have to stop letting perfect be the enemy of the merely very good. And I believe that the bill we passed in the Senate is a very good foundation on which to build."

DougJ: Go for the jugular

Personally, I don’t have a problem with Sam Alito mouthing “not true” when Obama said the SCOTUS ruling could open the door to an influx of campaign money from foreign donors. If the president bitch-slapped me on national tv, I might mouth something too.

I do have a problem with the disingenuous right-wing push-back on this and with the fact that PolitiFact and Dana Milbank are carrying the right’s water about it. Josh Marshall makes a very good point about:

The president is clearly correct. And it’s only a highly tendentious argument that claims otherwise. But what stands out to me is how sensitive Republicans seem on this point—Alito included. This is an important tell.

(emphasis mine)

I come from a long line of verbal sadists (though I don’t like to think of myself as one) and I know how the game is played—you prick, prick and when someone flinches, you know you’ve hit a nerve and you plunge the needle in as far as it will go.

The Republicans are flinching on the issue of foreign money in elections. Look for Bobo and chunky Bobo to start whining about the xenophobic implications of legislating this issue. That’s how you’ll know it really hurts Republicans.

If Democrats are smart, they’ll hit them so hard they’ll knock their clothes backwards like Kris Kross.
Think Progress: Corporation Runs For Maryland Congressional Seat To Protest SCOTUS Campaign Finance Decision
Last week, “all five of the [Supreme] Court’s conservatives joined together…to invalidate a sixty-three year-old ban on corporate money in federal elections,” a move that Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) said “opens the floodgates for the purchases and sale of the law” by big corporations. While progressives were outraged by the court’s judicial activism, many Republican politicians applauded the decision, with RNC Chairman Michael Steele even calling the ruling nothing more than “an affirmation of the constitutional rights provided to Americans under the first amendment.”

The progressive PR firm Murray Hill Inc. has announced that it plans to satirically run for Congress in the Republican primary in Maryland’s 8th congressional district to protest the Supreme Court’s disastrous decision. A press release on its website says that the company wants to “eliminate the middle man” and run for Congress directly, rather than influencing it with corporate dollars:

“Until now,” Murray Hill Inc. said in a statement, “corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence peddling to achieve their goals in Washington. But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves.”

“The strength of America,” Murray Hill Inc. says, “is in the boardrooms, country clubs and Lear jets of America’s great corporations. We’re saying to Wal-Mart, AIG and Pfizer, if not you, who? If not now, when?” [...]

Campaign Manager William Klein promises an aggressive, historic campaign that “puts people second” or even third. “The business of America is business, as we all know,” Klein says. “But now, it’s the business of democracy too.” Klein plans to use automated robo-calls, “Astroturf” lobbying and computer-generated avatars to get out the vote.

Murray Hill Inc. plans on spending “top dollar” to protect its investment. “It’s our democracy,” Murray Hill Inc. says, “We bought it, we paid for it, and we’re going to keep it.”

Murray Hill Inc. released its first campaign video Monday. A narrator in the video explains, “The way we see it, corporate America has been the driving force behind Congress for years. But now it’s time we got behind the wheel ourselves.” Watch it:

Update Radio host Thom Hartmann interviewed Murray Hill Inc's spokesman Eric Hansel yesterday on his radio show. Hansel explained to Hartmann that his company chose to run in the Republican primary because the GOP is more sympathetic to corporations. Watch it:

Obama finds a unifying enemy Jan. 28: Senator Bob Menendez talks with Rachel Maddow about the politics and economics President Obama's criticism of big banks and corporate interests.

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Amato (C&L): Judd Gregg freaks out on two female MSNBC anchors. He owes them an apology
Judd Gregg just had a meltdown on MSNBC that came out of nowhere. He's been attacking everything Obama, almost from the minute he turned down a Cabinet post offer from the White House, but his performance today was really weird. The conversation was about spending and, as usual, Gregg was acting like the incredible deficit freak that he is.

Melissa Francis is a CNBC talker who believes just like he does, and for some reason he mistook her for a dirty f*&king hippy and claimed she was setting him up as a man who wants to cut all spending on education. In fact, the only thing people like him and Ron Paul believe will work for America is to cut all government spending and federal programs and then just give tax cuts to the rich.

Then, Contessa Brewer brought up the fact that many economists think that when FDR became a deficit hawk so soon after expanding spending that he helped stop the country's economic growth. She asked him if he thought money from education should be cut, he went off and called them liars.

Gregg: First off, nobody is saying no money for schools, what an absurd statement to make. And what a dishonest statement to make. On its face you're being fundamentally dishonest when you make that type of statement.

Brewer: Senator, you're going to be asked to cut certain programs from government if you're on the Senate banking committee. Which programs -- just tell us -- would you cut?

Gregg: And then it gets misrepresented by people like yourself who say they are going to, if you do any of this stuff you're going to end up not funding education. I mean that statement alone is the most irresponsible statement I've heard from a reporter probably in a month.

Brewer: It wasn't a statement, it was a question.

Gregg deliberately misconstrued what they said, and the conversation went downhill from there. Gregg acted like a typical conservative bully around women, and if they were both men he would not have tried to call them liars. Meanwhile, Contessa ended the interview very professionally. He owes Brewer and Francis an apology for his behavior.

Think Progress: Senate Republicans Called For Commitment To PAYGO Before Voting Against It

In his State of the Union address last night, President Obama urged the Senate to adopt pay-as-you-go rules (PAYGO), which essentially stipulate that all spending increases will be offset by either cuts elsewhere or tax increases. “When the vote comes tomorrow, the Senate should restore the pay-as-you-go law that was a big reason for why we had record surpluses in the 1990s,” Obama said.

Today, the Senate followed through, and considering all of the deficit fearmongering that has been going on in Congress, you’d think that it would have passed by a fairly wide margin. But no. Instead, the rules passed on a party line vote of 60-40.

And the blanket Republican opposition is particularly interesting considering that some Senate Republicans used to support PAYGO, even when it was opposed by their own party. For instance, in 2004, three current Senate Republicans — Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — joined 47 Democrats in adopting PAYGO, against the majority Republicans’ wishes (although the rule was ultimately scuttled when Congress failed to pass a budget). The next year, the same three senators were joined by Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) in a failed attempt to implement the rule.

Yet all four of them opposed the rule today. Here’s what they’ve had to say in favor of PAYGO in the past:

VOINOVICH: I just don’t understand how we can continue to go this way. We’re living in a dream world. This deficit continues to grow.

COLLINS: [PAYGO is] much-needed restraint for members of Congress as we wrestle with fiscal decisions.

SNOWE: I believe now is the time for both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue to commit to pay-as-you-go rules for both revenues and spending.

Just last year, Snowe approved of Obama’s advocating for PAYGO. And in the last few weeks, all of these Republicans have voiced concerns about the deficit and spending. So what changed? And why did all the supposed deficit hawks in the Senate — like Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) — vote against it as well? Could it be that they’re actually deficit peacocks, who “like to preen and call attention to themselves, but are not sincerely interested” in addressing deficits?

In last night’s address, Obama chided Senate Republicans, saying that “just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it’s not leadership. We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions. So let’s show the American people that we can do it together.” They’re not off to a good start.

GOP hopes to bury its past Jan. 28: Rachel Maddow points out an apparent Republican effort to reinvent the party with fresh blood and new faces, hoping to erase the baggage of the Bush administration.

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