The GOP media machine openly questioned whether it was appropriate for President Barack Obama to travel to Los Angeles this week, when his "business" should be on the economy, the implication being that Obama was not capable of multi-tasking. It's an easy mistake, given the previous president could not watch TV and chew pretzels simultaneously. However, American News Project producer Harry Hanbury decided to take a look at the real business of Congress: fundraising. Collecting as many invitations as he could find, Hanbury found no less than two dozen fundraisers taking place over the course of a single day in DC and tried to visit them all:
Fundraising parties seem to be proliferating--possibly as an unintended consequence of the otherwise laudable post-Abramoff reforms of 2007, which banned gifts from lobbyists to members of Congress, restricted the use of corporate jets by members, and curbed junkets like Abramoff's notorious Scottish golfing trip. In his new book, So Damn Much Money, Robert Kaiser quotes the prominent lobbyist Lawrence O'Brien III, who says the latest reforms "have shifted the emphasis over to political fundraising. Now writing checks and raising money is the simplest pathway to completely legal personal face time with members and their senior staff."
It all may be "completely legal," but campaign finance advocates wonder what deals get cut along with all the big checks. After all, just before his sentencing no less an authority than Jack Abramoff reportedly said, "I was participating in a system of legalized bribery. All of it is bribery, every bit of it."
It may take time to dismantle what Kaiser calls "the culture of money, lobbying, and self-dealing that has metastasized over four decades." But a surprising alliance of good government groups, lobbyists, and business leaders believe this is the moment for sweeping campaign finance reform. They are rallying behind bills that would publicly fund races for the House, Senate, and the presidency. That would certainly throw a wet blanket over D.C.'s party circuit. But would it really be so a bad if members of Congress no longer felt compelled to spend a quarter to a third of their time raising campaign cash?
The numbers we're talking about are staggering. Yet, Eric Cantor--so concerned with Obama's ability to talk to Americans and handle the economic crisis--has no problem with his ability to take funds from PACs and supporters and obstruct the economic solutions the Obama administration proposes.
As a final note, think about how much good the $40,000 that Woolsey aide Stephanie Kenny (the only candid person in the video) mentions at the end of the video would benefit the students of Valley Academy High School, many of whom are so impoverished that the only decent meal they get every day is their school lunch.
Is there a better argument for public financing?
From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE...
Breakfast with the Dood
One of Daily Kos's most celebrated snarkists, Dood Abides describes himself as "a 51-year-old phosphorescent white male, completely visually indistinguishable from the Scotch Irish folks in Jim Webb's book Born Fighting." He and Mrs. Dood work long hours in Eastern North Carolina. "I could tell you what I do, but then you'd have to kill me. We are 'empty nesters' who save up to travel every chance we get. This year we are traveling on a 'mission trip' to Moldova and we will also be visiting #2 son in Australia. Mrs. Dood is originally German, so we go there to visit family when we can." It's a real pleasure to trap Dood in our basement and grill him for our latest edition of Yes, We're All Staring At YOU!
Cheers and Jeers: How long have you been blogging and what brought you to Daily Kos?
Dood Abides: I finally swallowed the red pill about a year before the 2004 election.
The Gore vs. Bush Supreme Court decision in 2000 was my first inkling that the matrix had me, and the subsequent treasonous march of my country into torture and an illegal and unjustified war in Iraq forced me to jack out of the power grid. I meandered onto Daily Kos in 2004 as a way of expressing my outrage. For about a year I was writing things before one of my sons pointed out that I was "blogging." The Kos really was, and is, something unique and very special---it's an amalgam of incredibly intelligent and passionate people from all walks of life. It grows, contracts, and changes as a matter of course, and I think that the founder would agree that it really is beyond his complete control anymore, and more than just a "blog." It has also spawned other communities such as My Left Wing and Booman Tribune, just to name a couple. It's no wonder that Billo Whiny is continually soiling himself over "The Great Orange Satan."
Your visual merging of political figures and pop culture has made you a sharp and popular---not to mention award-winning---political satirist and parody master here. What motivated you to start doing that?
Bluntly: George W. Bush and his cronies. They were already doing it to us, so why shouldn't I do it to them? I truly believe that cliché that a picture is worth 1000 words. If something is done right, people get it almost instantaneously...no reading required. I chose at an early age to abandon art as a career versus being able to "put food on my family." The first time I saw a pathetic attempt by a Little Green Footballer at putting John Kerry's head on something, I knew I could do better, and I've been working at it ever since as a hobby.
Your masterpiece, The Wizard of Oil, won a Koufax Award (sadly no longer given out, but they were the Oscars of their day for political bloggers) in 2005. Do you remember when you first got the idea for it, and how long did it take you to create that?
Growing up, I didn't get to watch a lot of movies until I was well into college. I actually kept up with movies as a kid by reading the satires about them in Mad Magazine. I also loved the way they rewrote songs sometimes. I'm very indebted to a college roommate, a drama/theatre major, who taught me an appreciation for musicals. (A shout out to his theatre, The Algonquin, in NYC!) I feel that archetypes, both in literature and psychology, while powerful can become very constraining. I particularly enjoy turning them on their ear. History, in my opinion, will clearly show that George W. Bush, like Dorothy, was in way over his head; I'm sure he's thinking there's no place like Paraguay about now.
I can't remember when I first got the idea to do the whole thing, but I do remember Googling extensively to check that no one else had done it. I mostly did little bits and pieces here and there for a few months until the anxiety that I just wasn't finishing it set in and I tied it all together over about 10 or 12 hours on a weekend. True story: I wrote the lyrics for I'm Clinically Insane, and I'm Only Made of Partswhile waiting on an oil change at Jiffy Lube.
What kind of music makes you feel invincible to the GOP horde?
I'm very eclectic. I can imagine myself raining destruction down upon Dick Cheney's un-disclosed location from a helicopter with Wagner's Die Walküre blaring; or, nothing quite says f*** you to a wounded wingnut than Frank Sinatra singing That's Life. I also like the in-your-face pure joy of Hoku's Perfect Day, or Gary Brolsma's lip synch choreography of O-Zone's Dragonstea din tei.
Barack Obama: how's he doing?
Loaded question. Compared to the CHIMPOTUS? On the Herculean task of mucking out King George's Economic Stables? Well, to quote Gust Avrakotos from Charlie Wilson's War: "We shall see, said the Zen Master."
What's the one book every Kossack must read?
The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation by Drew Westen, a fascinating scientific study that lowers Homo Sapiens down a couple of notches. As much as we Progressives claim to be "reality based" and intellectually driven, we're all wired the same as the Goopers, Freepers, and Independents, and ultimately make our decisions based on emotions. For those disinclined to read The
Political Brain, a careful study of J K Rowling's Harry Potter series would be an excellent substitute.
Finish this sentence: In the kitchen I make a mean...
Low-fat, low-calorie banana pudding, on the authority of Mrs. Dood. I also do good coffee and burritos, I think.
I have to ask, since your screen name is a variation on the famous line, "The Dude abides": is The Big Lebowski a great movie or the greatest movie?
Coen Brothers movie is the greatest movie, but I actually happen to like Raising Arizona a little better than The Big Lebowski. Both are kind of stunning in their originality and deep humor. Probably my all-time favorite movie for sheer, feel-good sarcasm is Real Genius.
No waffling here: dogs or cats?
Damn! Growing up, my sister and I were grateful servants to both species. Currently, Mrs. Dood and I serve a 13-year-old Tennessee Walker Hound who was a reward for good grades in school for a long departed college graduate son. I'm pretty well responsible for Izmerelda, who is an excellent multi-tasker, dragging me for a good cardiovascular workout of 1 1/2 to 2 miles every day while diligently answering all of her
P-Mail. She's taught me a lot about politics and life... sometimes you just have to slow down, stop, and smell the dog crap.
Now that you've returned after a few months off with your recommended diary, The Name's Obama...Barack Obama, can we expect more Doodage in the future?
Absolutely! Probably not nearly as frequently, though. We don't have Dub to kick around anymore. If I notice this White House becoming less than truthful or spewing propaganda, I push back. Mrs. Dood has most of our scant free time now, as we have taken up Ballroom Dancing, Swing dancing, and Lindy Hopa. I kinda hated it all at first, like a typical guy, but we got better and now it's fun and pretty good exercise!
Cheers and Jeers starts in There's Moreville... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]
On CNN last week, former Vice President Dick Cheney said that President Obama’s national security policies, including his plan to close Guantanamo Bay, will “raise the risk to the American people of another attack.” In an interview with 60 Minutes that aired last night, Obama responded, saying, “I fundamentally disagree with Dick Cheney.” Obama added that “the philosophy that is being promoted by Vice President Cheney” hasn’t “made us safer“:
OBAMA: The facts don’t bear him out. I think he is– that attitude, that philosophy has done incredible damage– to our image and position in the world. I mean, the fact of the matter is after all these years how many convictions actually came out of Guantanamo? How many– how many terrorists have actually been brought to justice under the philosophy that is being promoted by Vice President Cheney? It hasn’t made us safer. What it has been is a great advertisement for anti-American sentiment. Which means that there is constant effective recruitment of– Arab fighters and Muslim fighters against U.S. interests all around the world.
The Environmental Protection Agency sent a proposal to the White House Friday finding that global warming is endangering the public's health and welfare, according to several sources, a move that could have far-reaching implications for the nation's economy and environment.Of course, the US Chamber of Commerce prefers we all learn to swim.
"By moving forward with the endangerment finding on greenhouse gases, EPA is putting in motion a set of decisions that may have far-reaching unintended consequences," said Bill Kovacs, vice president, of environment, technology and regulatory affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "Specifically, once the finding is made, no matter how limited, some environmental groups will sue to make sure it is applied to all aspects of the Clean Air Act.Wonder how the extinction of all life on Earth will affect the economy?
"This will mean that all infrastructure projects, including those under the president's stimulus initiative, will be subject to environmental review for greenhouse gases. Since not one of the projects has been subjected to that review, it is possible that the projects under the stimulus initiative will cease. This will be devastating to the economy."
Hamid Karzai recently angrily remarked that "Afghanistan will never be a puppet state." It seems that the President of Afghanistan is in for a hard shock. The UK Guardian is reporting that the Obama Administration intends to install a rival Prime[...]
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Let me be far more direct that Senator John Kerry, who is certainly doing the humanitarian thing by taking up the cause of Tom Coco and Genesio Oliveira. You see, they married in Massachusetts, fully expecting to live a life together in that state. Genesio had come to this country after abuse and rape in his native Brazil, but had found love and stability here. Then the Bush Administration deported Mr. Oliveira, seperating the couple, violating the bonds of matrimony and the commitment our government should have to the happines of its law abiding citizens. All because Genesio Oliveira is gay. Oh sure, his immigration status was not in order, but the real factor here is that Genesio Oliveira is gay, and it is highly likely he was a target of the Bush Administration for that reason and because Genesio Oliveira was married in Massachusetts.
John Kerry is stepping in, asking that the Obama Administration do something about the case to reunite Tim Coco. He’s also co-sponsored the Uniting American Families Act, something the family-obsessed GOP will surely get their panties in a bunch about. Here’s a bit from the Boston Globe:
Genesio “Junior” Oliveira, who is married to Haverhill advertising agency owner Tim Coco, returned home in August 2007 after he lost his asylum case and appeal, which was based on his story that he had suffered a brutal rape and discrimination in Brazil.
In a letter this week, Kerry asked Attorney General Eric Holder to overrule the lower court and grant Oliveira asylum. In the letter, Kerry criticized Immigration Judge Francis Cramer for rejecting the asylum plea even though Cramer had found the testimony credible. Kerry said it was “outrageous” that Cramer noted that Oliveira was not physically harmed by the rape.
“The injustice of the initial denial of Junior’s asylum claim continues to this day,” Kerry wrote in the letter. “I hope that you will review this case and determine that the denial of Junior’s asylum claim was in error and let him return to this country.”
As head of the Department of Justice, Holder oversees the immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals. Holder will review the letter and respond to Kerry, spokesman Charles Miller said yesterday.
Evidently, stressed more heavily in the New York Times report, the immigration judge had said in his ruling, with no evidence, that Genesio Oliveira was not harmed when he was raped, a conclusion that can only be reached if one imagines that gay men wish to be raped. Yeah, there’s some stark and ugly logic going on here by the judge in his actions to tear apart a family, but stark and ugly logic on the issue of gay and lesbian citizens is par for the course for the extremists who walk with Bush on the issue.
The Obama Administration has much to clean up after eight years of Bush. It isn’t just the bungling by Bush, but also the meanspirited laws designed to harm Americans. There’s the bottom line. Genesio Oliveira harms nobody be staying in this country, and the stable family relationship he holds with Tim Coco profits all of us as a society. But the Bushies are not about profiting us as a society, not by any evidence.
This is a crime, a moral crime.
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin said Friday that she owes more than $500,000 in legal fees to her Anchorage-based lawyer Thomas van Flein for work defending her on ten lawsuits, which she did not name. But Palin specified that the lawsuits start with "the politically motivated Troopergate probe," in which Palin was accused of pressuring a state official to fire a state trooper embroiled in a personal dispute with the Palin family. Palin also said that she could not use public funds to pay her lawyer because "to do so could itself violate state law," but she might establish a legal fund to help pay the debt. (Anchorage Daily News)
JP Morgan Chase will spend $138 million to buy two luxury jets and an aircraft hanger, even after receiving $25 billion in TARP funds, ABC News reports. The Gulfstream 650 jets are described by their manufacturer as the "fastest," "widest," and "most comfortable" aircraft ever designed. Though JP Morgan says that no TARP funds will be used, corporate watchdog Nell Minnow called this a "remarkably boneheaded decision" and "completely tone deaf." (ABC News)
The civilian trial of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, the alleged "enemy combatant" who was held by the Bush administration for five years without charge, will begin today in Peoria, Illinois. Due to the high-profile and controversial nature of the trial, the U.S. District courthouse has heightened security measures and increased law enforcement on site. The security precautions include banning cell phones and laptop computers and setting up overflow seats in a separate room hooked up to a closed circuit television. Al-Marri has been charged as an al-Qaeda operative who came to the United States to help foreign terrorists. (Peoria Journal Star)
A report by the an independent watch group indicated that the IRS significantly decreased the number of audits performed for individuals with incomes exceeding $1 million between 2007 and 2008. The IRS acknowledged that the number of audited individuals in this income bracket dropped 19 percent during that period but the TRAC report said that the correct number could be as much as 36 percent. This auditing decline occurred in the midst of the real estate boom, as the number of individuals who made more than $1 million increased sharply. The agency had previously vowed to crack down on the very wealthy. (Newsday)
Federal investigators react too slowly to whistleblowers reporting improper government activity, a report by the Project on Government Oversight found. Compiling the input from 64 federal federal investigative offices, POGO specifically criticized the accessibility and design of inspector general websites. Telephone services, said POGO, are also insufficiently staffed by college students who must also handle the telephones of private companies. (Washington Post)
Are you a mad Googler? Every time a question pops into your head, do you run over to the computer and start Googling about it? Then you’re just like me, and you could be putting all this cyber-energy toward a good cause by going to the homepage of Goodsearch rather than to Google. I know, Google is still an excellent search engine and sometimes after I’ve Goodsearched something, I go over to Google and search again, just to make sure I haven’t missed anything, or if I’m in a curious mood to see how the information is sorted and indexed differently. But Google doesn’t do anything for the causes I care about every time I do a search; Goodsearch does.
At Goodsearch, you can choose which charity you want your penny-per-search to go to. Right now I am alternating between the Rhode Island Center for Law and Public Policy (of which I am a board member) and my older daughter’s elementary school. I’ve also encouraged the priest of my church to become a Goodsearch charity, so then I guess I’ll have to do a three-way split between my Goodsearching.
Goodsearch has a neat feature where you can look and see how much your charity has earned in searches. So if you’re a compulsive stats checker as well as a compulsive searcher, you’ll get double treats here.
Along with Goodsearch, there is also Goodshop which gives a percentage of your purchase price to your designated charity. This is a great way to give a dollar here and a dollar there to a good cause, or if you’re doing some big purchases, to really provide some decent financial support to your chosen organization.
So, follow my lead! Stop Googling and start Goodsearching. The world will be a better place for it.
After several weeks of pushback on Paulson redux for TALF, the Obama administration appears to have settled on...the Paulson redux plan with assorted new shiny windowdressings. Oh joy and rapture. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner will testify twice[...]
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During the March 23 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund advanced the Republican falsehood that Democrats created the right for American International Group (AIG) to pay bonuses by passing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Fund asked, "Do you really want to trust the same government that approved the AIG bonuses knowing that they were in the stimulus bill? ... Are you really going to trust that same government to be the overlord for executive[...]
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