Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Why,Mario Diaz-Balart and Lincoln Diaz-Balart rejected Charlie Christ

Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Lincoln Diaz-Balart, who are leading figures in the Cuban-American GOP political community, have rescinded their endorsements of Crist. Lincoln Diaz-Balart wouldn't elaborate on the reason, except to give this cryptic comment: "We take our endorsements seriously, but the governor knows why we withdrew and he left us with no alternative."


The Miami Herald speculates that this might have happened because Crist snubbed the Diaz-Balarts in their attempt to have a friend of Lincoln's son appointed as a judge, instead picking a different candidate. Could something this picayune have led to a retraction of a Senate campaign endorsement?



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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Media Sticks it's head up John McCain's ASS a usual

When Sen. Al Franken denied Sen. Joe Lieberman's request for unanimous consent to speak beyond his allotted 10 minutes during floor debate yesterday, there was something in it for everyone.

Conservatives echoed Sen. John McCain's claim that the denial was unprecedented and outrageous. Many liberals frustrated by Lieberman's opposition to health care reform (among a lengthy list of other grievances) enjoyed what they saw as Franken "shutting down" their nemesis. And much of the media went along with the framing, themselves lusting for some political bloodsport.

Problem was, it wasn't true. In fact, it was clear from the exchange itself that it wasn't true. But everyone reacted to an abbreviated version of the exchange.

As the exchange makes clear, when McCain responded to Franken's objection by angrily denouncing the supposedly-unprecedented action, Sen. Carl Levin immediately pointed out that, in fact, an identical denial had occured earlier in the day, and that the purpose was simply to keep debate moving.

Indeed, pretty much everybody involved has made clear it was really no big deal. (Except for McCain, but we'll come back to him.)

Here's Franken:

"I agreed with every word he said for the entire 10 minutes, and I think he probably only had maybe 30 seconds left," he said. "He didn't take it personally at all."

Franken says Majority leader Harry Reid ordered all senators who presided today to keep speeches to their ten minute limits and not grant any extensions.

"Usually you're allowed to do this and, just, today we were told not to let it happen because there's been some attempt to string out the debate," Franken said. "So, I really just had no choice."

And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office agreed. Minneapolis Star Tribune correspondent Eric Roper reported on December 17:

A spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid said that Franken was merely adhering to a request from Reid to strictly enforce the rules because the Senate is already in session practically 'round the clock.' "

Politico reported on December 18 that Reid spokesman Jim Manley stated of Reid's request, "We did that to maintain order and that no senator had an unfair advantage over another in terms of speaking. ... It was a simple request of the leader and Sen. Franken was adhering to the request of his leadership."

And Lieberman:

Lieberman laughed off the incident as much ado about nothing when he returned to the chamber a couple of hours later. He said that Franken apparently was following procedures for sticking to time limits that had been handed down by Senate leaders. Franken had made a good-natured gesture with his hands, Lieberman said, "as if to say 'There's nothing I can do'."

And indeed, earlier in the day, when Sen. John Cornyn asked for more time for his speech, the presiding officer, Sen. Mark Bevich said virtually the same thing:

"In my capacity as a Senator from Alaska, I object."

But the facts didn't get in the way of the media's -- and the right-wing's -- efforts to paint Franken as a vindictive partisan.

The right-wing reaction was predictable. Blogger Ann Althouse called it a "dick move" and suggested a boycott of Minnesota. Michelle Malkin accused "nutroots hero Al Franken" of "a little snit fit against Lieberman." Red State's James Richardson accused Franken of "breaking from the Senate's long-held standards of collegiality."

But the overwhelming certainty of the Beltway crowd was stunning.

On Hardball Thursday, Chris Matthews was shocked (accessed from Nexis):

I've never seen that...Working on the Hill, following the Hill, I've never seen a senator cut short on a -- you know, a casual request for an extra minute to continue speaking in a Senate that's allowed to speak forever. Let's face it, we understand you can speak forever in the Senate. Does that show how hot things are getting or what?

Remember, the same thing had happened earlier in the day. And that previous occurrence was mentioned by Levin during the Franken/Lieberman/McCain exchange. And yet Matthews kept insisting it was unique, coming back to it again and again. Later in the show, Matthews hosted Joan Walsh and Melinda Henneberger -- and all agreed it was a "direct shot" at Lieberman.

Henneberger insisted (from Nexis):

Franken looked a little rude, and it was no coincidence that he was the first one to have the clock called on him, given that I'm sure Franken wanted to come across the desk and kill him, maybe not so much.

But Lieberman wasn't the "first one to have the clock called on him." As Carl Levin made clear. Where on earth did Henneberger get the idea that he was? She obviously hadn't checked, so why on earth would she feel comfortable making such an assertion?

Over on CNN's Situation Room, senior political analyst David Gergen had an entirely erroneous analysis (from Nexis):

Yes, John McCain is scolding him, scolding Al Franken. I think that Al Franken went beyond the traditions of the Senate. There is normally -- it is a club after all in the eyes of the traditionalists, and this is very personal.

Joe Lieberman said I don't take it personally, but in fact, it was intended to be personal, and I think it reflects the frustration, the anger, the boiling resentments, and a sense among many in the Senate that maybe this thing is going to slip away from them.

Friday morning, the media continued to pile on Franken.

On Morning Joe, Lawrence O'Donnell declared "I've never seen [this] before. I spent a lot of years on the Senate floor. I did not know that the presiding officer could do that. I thought only a member up in the body could object. But it turns out you can." David Gregory went yammering on about Franken trying to "make a mark" and being a "liberal Senator" who dislikes Lieberman and "working the levers of power."

And then this exchange:

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: If you ask the Franken folks, they say this wasn't a dis. They were trying to enforce the strict time rules because they are trying to jam so much in, trying to get the health care bill to the floor.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Savannah, if that were the case, why would he say 'As my capacity of Senator from Minnesota'?

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL: I think he didn't want to do it as the presiding officer. ... It's shocking, it's never happened before.

Seriously, that wasn't even the first time it had happened yesterday. And the previous time, when Begich told Cornyn his time was up, he used the exact same wording. Because that's the wording they had been told to use.

Meanwhile, over at Fox & Friends, host Brian Kilmeade called Franken "an angry clown. He's a liberal who's mad at Joe Lieberman" and said Franken "needs to be chastised by Senator Reid. ... He needs somebody in his own party that has power over him to say, 'Al, you're embarrassing us.'" Keep in mind: Franken was acting on direction from Reid!

Kilmeade's co-host Steve Doocy weighed in by calling Franken "uncivil" and "not very polite" -- which, again, is news to Lieberman, who noted that Franken had been good-natured about it.

And Gretchen Carlson suggested Franken was part of a "trend" of "newbie politicians that don't know exactly the protocol," adding, "You have the senior senator John McCain saying I've never seen this happen before, and the freshman senator Al Franken maybe not knowing how the rules are played."

Remember: The "senior senator John McCain" was wrong; it had happened just a few hours earlier. And the "freshman senator Al Franken" was doing exactly what leadership had told all presiding officers to do.

Not only was McCain wrong about what happened yesterday, his comments were entirely hypocritical. As Think Progress' Faiz Shakir notes, McCain himself objected to Sen. Mark Dayton's request for an additional 30 seconds to finish remarks during the 2002 Iraq war debate.

And yet on Friday, McCain was still making the same false and hypocritical claim and the media were airing his comments without checking them out. (While Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity were still pushing the storyline on their afternoon radio shows.)

The "story" -- if there is one -- of yesterday's exchange should have been that McCain was wrong, and a hypocrite, in his angry denunciation of Franken's objection.

Lazy journalism is bad.

Lazy journalism practiced by D.C. political analysts who insist they know what they're talking about is even worse.


Source: Mediamatters.org


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Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Health Care Reform Bill So Far

NEW YORK - DECEMBER 10:  Health care activists...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

There are some great elements of this bill that will take some time to set up, such as the new insurance marketplace -- the Exchange -- that allows people without insurance and small businesses to compare plans and buy insurance at competitive prices. But there are a lot of other benefits for families that will kick in during the first year if we get this passed:

  • In the first year, we will make it illegal for insurance companies to drop coverage for Americans.
  • In the first year, more of your money will start going where it belongs: towards your care instead of excessive insurance company profits or TV ads. We will start forcing insurance companies to report the proportion of premium dollars that are not spent on medical care -- including profits. If a company isn't spending enough of its premium dollars providing benefits for families, it will have to issue rebate checks to its customers to make up the difference.
  • In the first year, all insurance plans will have to begin covering preventive services, helping to shift our health care from just sickness to wellness. If you purchase insurance on your own, you will receive preventive care from your doctor without paying a co-pay.
  • In the first year, seniors will see major relief in paying for prescription drugs. The gap in coverage with Medicare, the so-called "donut hole," will start to close for good.

This bill will reduce premiums for your family, shifting the balance of power from your insurance company back to you.

Health reform extends coverage to 30,000,000 Americans without adding a dime to the Federal deficit. In fact, it represents the largest reduction to the deficit in well over a decade.

The final bill hasn't taken shape yet. There are several more steps in the process, and the President is committed to making it the best bill possible to provide security for those who have insurance and affordable, quality coverage for those who don't.

It is important to look past the bickering and cable chatter and remember that we are on the verge of providing real benefits to Americans who can't wait any longer.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

Sincerely,

Nancy-Ann DeParle

Director, White House Office of Health Reform

P.S. Don't miss the video of the President's weekly address. Watch it here: http://www.whitehou se.gov/blog/ 2009/12/18/ weekly-address- patients- bill-rights- and-health- reform




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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

GOP: Champions of the hypocrites



The corporate media's double standard on Nazi analogies: When conservatives are compared to the Third Reich, however obscurely, it's an outrageous slur, but when leaders of the right charge progressives with Hitler-like tendencies, it's unremarkable political rhetoric.

Political Animal's Steve Benen (12/8/09) rounds up some similar examples of criticisms that are outrageous when applied by the left to the right, but no big deal when they go the other way--starting with the manufactured controversy over Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's likening Republican foot-dragging over healthcare reform to conservatives' lack of urgency over women's suffrage and ending slavery:

If we're to believe the faux-outrage, the reference to slavery was the rhetorical element that went too far. But this, apparently, is a new concern--the right has been far more direct in making the same comparison. Harry Reid was talking about key moments in history in which the right was wrong, but Michele Bachmann recently called the Democrats' legislative agenda "nothing more than slavery," and no one said a word. Indeed, conservatives routinely insist that the left is trying "enslave" America, and the political mainstream just shrugs its shoulders in response.

This is not uncommon. In 2005, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) described the Bush administration's torture policies and system of secret prisons as being reminiscent of "Soviets in their gulags." At the time, the media and Republicans were apoplectic about Durbin's remarks, sparking a week-long frenzy. Several conservatives called on the Senate to censure Durbin, and Karl Rove, at the time a high-ranking White House official, argued that Durbin's quote was evidence that liberals are traitors. Durbin eventually offered a tearful apology.

But notice that just a few days ago, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a member of the Senate Republican leadership, called Medicaid a "health care gulag." Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) recently called Dems' health care reform efforts "Soviet-style gulag health care." Neither reporters nor other members of Congress batted an eye.

Also note, when Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) said Republicans are promoting lethal healthcare policies, it was a huge national controversy. When Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said the same thing, no one seemed to care.

Journalists really ought to try putting the next GOP press release on this topic in the circular bin. "He called me a name back" is a complaint that you should have learned not to take seriously by the second grade.



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Saturday, December 05, 2009

10 Companies to Avoid This Holiday Season

Air America put together a list of companies that you should think twice about before handing them your money. Their research is based on descriptions from The Blue Pages: A Directory of Companies Rated By Their Politics And Practices. This is a super handy little book that tells you about companies' environmental, human rights and labor practices and also which political parties they give money to and how much. There are probably hundreds of '10 worst' (or best) lists you could come up with from the book, but Air America at least got the ball rolling.

Here's a little info on what they found. You can read the whole thing on their website and you should, there's lots more there. Also check out the book. It's handy to take along shopping. Or maybe it will just be an iPhone app soon anyway (or maybe it is?).

1. Children's Place: "It gets its products from places with human rights and labor violations and had to pay $1.5 million in a settlement alleging that they violated the Securities Act.

2. Hanes: "...went the extra step to be cited for 'egregious labor violations.'" Oh, and they have not even an attempt at an anti-discrimination policy for sexual orientation and gender identity.

3. JC Penny: "D- on Green America's scorecard and D+ from the NAACP."

4. Limited Brands (this includes Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works): "The now scarily common 'sourced from countries with widespread, well-documented human and labor rights abuses' rears its head here..."

5. IBM: "It's been sued for improperly converting employee pension plans and for exposing them to toxic chemicals." Oh and also for "aiding and abetting South Africa's apartheid regime."

6. Albertsons: The gamut of really bad labor stuff — "Unpaid overtime, punishing employees for opposing discrimination policies ... intimidates workers into refusing unions ..." and the list unfortunately goes on.

7. Chiquita: This is a good summary: "Everything is contaminated."

8. L'Oreal: Still getting it for their lack of policy on animal testing (oh, and using banned chemicals).

9. Target: Bad on the environment, racial discrimination and of course ''sourced from countries with widespread, well-documented human and labor rights abuses.'"

10. Wal-Mart: Obvi!

Sadly, this is just a few of the companies out there that you should avoid. I'm sure we can come up with more, but better yet, what are the 10 companies that deserve our cash?



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