Thursday, May 20, 2010


Marshall: Sen. Brown Says He'll Support Reform

From Brian Beutler's latest report from Capitol Hill ...

Sen. Scott Brown acknowledged tonight that he did indeed tell Majority Leader Harry Reid he'd support financial reform legislation, before voting to filibuster at the last minute. But he says he's confident he'll ultimately side with the Democrats, and suggested he may switch his vote back to yes as early as tomorrow.

Read the rest here.

Zev Chavets (NYT): The Limbaugh Victory

THERE are many theories for why very conservative Republicans seem to be doing so well lately, taking their party’s Senate nominations in Florida, Kentucky and Utah, and beating Democrats head-to-head in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia. Some attribute this to a generalized anti-incumbent mood. Others say it reflects the tendency of parties in power to falter in midterm elections. Recently it has been fashionable to ascribe right-wing success to the Tea Party movement.

But the most obvious explanation is the one that’s been conspicuously absent from the gusher of analysis. Republican success in 2010 can be boiled down to two words: Rush Limbaugh.

Mr. Limbaugh has played an important role in elections going back to 1994, when he commanded the air war in the Republican Congressional victory. This time, however, he is more than simply the mouthpiece of the party. He is the brains and the spirit behind its resurgence.

How did this happen? The Obama victory in 2008 left Republicans dazed, demoralized and leaderless. Less than six weeks after the inauguration, in a nationally televised keynote address to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, Mr. Limbaugh stepped into the void with a raucous denunciation of the new president’s agenda and a strategic plan based on his belief that real conservatism wins every time. He reiterated his famous call for Mr. Obama to fail and urged the party faithful to ignore the siren song of bipartisanship and moderation and stay true to the principles of Ronald Reagan.

Democrats responded by branding Mr. Limbaugh — whom they considered self-evidently unattractive — as the leader of the opposition. The day after the conservative conference, Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, went on “Face the Nation” and described Mr. Limbaugh as the “voice and the intellectual force and energy” of the G.O.P.

Mr. Limbaugh loved being tossed into this briar patch. He mocked the notion that he was the titular leader of the Republicans even as he was becoming the party’s top strategist and de facto boss.

His strategy was simple. With Democrats controlling Congress, Mr. Limbaugh saw that there was no way to stop the president’s agenda. He dismissed the moderates’ notion that compromising with the president would make Republicans look good to independents. Instead he decreed that the Republicans must become the party of no, and force Democratic candidates — especially centrists — to go into 2010 with sole responsibility for the Obama program and the state of the economy. And that is what has happened.

Mr. Limbaugh was not just the architect of this plan, he was (and continues to be) its enforcer. Dissenters like Arlen Specter, whom Mr. Limbaugh disparaged as a “Republican in Name Only,” found themselves unelectable in the party primaries. Moderates like Michael Steele, the party chairman, were slapped down for suggesting cooperation with the administration. When Representative Phil Gingrey of Georgia had the temerity to suggest that Mr. Limbaugh was too uncompromising, he was met with public outrage and forced into an humiliating apology.

When the Tea Party movement emerged, Mr. Limbaugh welcomed it. The movement’s causes — fighting against health care reform, reducing the size and cost of government, opposing the Democrats’ putative desire to remake America in the image of European social democracies — were straight Limbaughism. A very high proportion of the Tea Partiers listen to Mr. Limbaugh. Sarah Palin’s biggest current applause line — Republicans are not just the party of no, but the party of hell no — came courtesy of Mr. Limbaugh. (Ms. Palin gave the keynote address at the first national Tea Party convention.) Glenn Beck, who is especially popular among Tea Partiers, calls Mr. Limbaugh his hero.

So why the lack of attention? Mr. Limbaugh has studiously refrained from claiming credit for the movement. His only intervention thus far has been to quash talk about the Tea Party becoming a third party. He wants a unified, right-wing G.O.P. in 2010, and by all appearances he is going to get it.

Rush Limbaugh came along after the age of Ronald Reagan. He has never really had a Republican presidential candidate to his ideological satisfaction. But if the party sweeps this November under the banner of Real Conservatism, Mr. Obama will find himself facing two years of “no” in Washington and, very likely, a Limbaugh-approved opponent in 2012.

Chris in Paris: GOP blocking science and technology bill

The Party of No lives! They might break out with a rash if they were somehow associated with anything as progressive as science and technology. They're tripping over themselves to save Big Oil from their financial responsibilities but somehow it's OK to spend taxpayer money for oil spills caused by bad the oil industry.

It was strike two for a major science funding bill Wednesday as House Republicans again united to derail legislation they said was too expensive.

Going down to defeat was the America COMPETES Act, which would have committed more than $40 billion over three years to boost funding for the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies involved in basic and applied science, provided loan guarantees to small businesses developing new technologies and promoted science and math education.
Lach (TPM): House GOP Again Foils Jobs Bill (And Again Includes Porn Measure)

The Dems were ready to accept the GOP's anti-porn amendment, but Republicans in the House again managed to thwart a jobs bill that provides billions in funding to science and research.

Last week, we told you how house GOPers managed to scuttle the bill by forcing Democrats to vote in favor of federal employees viewing pornography. 121 Democrats balked, and voted with Republicans to kill the bill.

Today, GOPers pulled off an encore performance. The AP reports the bill's total price tag was reduced from $85 billion to about $47 billion (achieved by reducing the bill's spending timeline from 5 years to 3), and Democrats were united in support, despite the continued inclusion of the porn measure. They opted to use a procedure that required a two-thirds vote to pass the bill, but prevented any more amendments from being added. Every Democrat voted in favor, but they were joined by only 15 Republicans, and the bill failed despite a 261-148 vote.

Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), who spearheaded the porn-amendment effort, told the AP that the bill "continues to take us in a much more costly direction and authorizes a number of new programs which have little to do with prioritizing investments."

Roth (TPM): Cuccinelli: Critics Of Climate-Science Probe 'Need Not Worry'

Ken Cuccinelli is trying to allay intense concerns from Virginia's scientific and academic communities about his investigation of a former University of Virginia climate scientist.

"The same legal standards for fraud apply to the academic setting that apply elsewhere," the attorney general told a crowd on Tuesday at a fundraiser for -- what else? -- an abstinence-only education group, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "The same rule of law, the same objective fact-finding process will take place."

This week, a group of 800 scientists and academics wrote to Cuccinelli urging him to call off the probe of Michael Mann, which even some climate skeptics have referred to as a "witch hunt."

"The need not worry, but I doubt anybody screaming about it will take that from me," Cuccinelli added. "We're going to work our way through the process in a professional way."

Cuccinelli recently subpoenaed UVA for documents relating to the government-funded climate science research of Mann, who left UVA in 2005 and now teaches at Penn State. UVA's administration has said it is still weighing whether to challenge Cuccinelli's subpoena.

Mann was one of several scientists whose emails were released as part of last year's Climate-Gate controversy. Cuccinelli has said he's concerned that Mann may have committed fraud by deliberately skewing his findings -- though Mann has already been cleared of wrong-doing by several investigations.

DougJ: Hanging on the telephone

This kind of pointless, macho posturing is no doubt part of the reason Rand Paul is a teabag icon:

After winning Kentucky’s Republican primary Tuesday night, Bowling Green ophthalmologist Rand Paul refused to take the call of congratulations from opponent Trey Grayson, according to Grayson’s campaign manager Nate Hodson.

Hodson did not elaborate, except to say “it happened.”

“This is truly a classless act in politics,” said Marc Wilson, a Republican lobbyist and friend of Trey Grayson.

It will be fun seeing what Brooks and Broder make of this dude if he becomes Senator.

Think Progress: Rand Paul: ‘The Hard Part Of Believing In Freedom’ Is Opposing Ban On Whites-Only Lunch Counters

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is one of the greatest accomplishments of the 20th century, banning whites-only lunch counters and similar discrimination in hiring, promotions, hotels and restaurants. Yet, in a recent editorial board interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal, GOP Senate candidate Rand Paul explained why he believes that this landmark law should not apply to private business owners:

INTERVIEWER: Would you have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

PAUL: I like the Civil Rights Act in the sense that it ended discrimination in all public domains, and I’m all in favor of that.


PAUL: You had to ask me the “but.” I don’t like the idea of telling private business owners—I abhor racism. I think it’s a bad business decision to exclude anybody from your restaurant—but, at the same time, I do believe in private ownership. But I absolutely think there should be no discrimination in anything that gets any public funding, and that’s most of what I think the Civil Rights Act was about in my mind.

Watch it:

After adding that he is also a fan of Dr. Martin Luther King, Paul dug in deeper, explaining that he he believes that in a “free society,” private lunch counters must be allowed to refuse service to Dr. King because of his race:

INTERVIEWER: But under your philosophy, it would be okay for Dr. King not to be served at the counter at Woolworths?

PAUL: I would not go to that Woolworths, and I would stand up in my community and say that it is abhorrent, um, but, the hard part—and this is the hard part about believing in freedom—is, if you believe in the First Amendment, for example—you have too, for example, most good defenders of the First Amendment will believe in abhorrent groups standing up and saying awful things. . . . It’s the same way with other behaviors. In a free society, we will tolerate boorish people, who have abhorrent behavior.

For the record, here is an example of the “boorish people” that Paul thinks a free society must tolerate:

lunch counter

In an interview with NPR today, Paul was asked three times about his position on the Civil Rights Act, but each time he dodged giving a declarative answer. “A lot of things that were actually in the bill I’m actually in favor of,” said Paul. Hinting at what he doesn’t “favor,” Paul added that “a lot of things can be handled locally.”

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