Monthly Archive: September 2010

Sep 30 2010

Show Me The Money!

Soros, Lewis and Other Big Donors Abandon Democrats For Progressives and Weed

By: Jane Hamsher Thursday September 30, 2010 9:29 am

Privately, the closed wallets of Democratic billionaires like George Soros and Peter Lewis is all that the poobahs of the DC fundraising world have been talking about for weeks.  But now it’s hit the New York Times:

Many wealthy Democratic patrons, who in the past have played major roles financing outside groups to help elect the party’s candidates, are largely sitting out these crucial midterm elections.

Democratic donors like George Soros, the bête noire of the right, and his fellow billionaire Peter B. Lewis, who each gave more than $20 million to Democratic-oriented groups in the 2004 election, appear to be holding back so far.

“Mr. Soros believes that he can be most effective by funding groups that promote progressive policy outcomes in areas such as health care, the environment and foreign policy,” said an adviser, Michael Vachon. “So he has opted to fund those activities.”

Gay men, pro-choice women and environmentalists are probably the three biggest issue-based donor groups for the Democratic Party, and all three are absolutely ripshit at the way the Democrats have squandered their majorities.  They’re also furious at the veal pen outfits that collaborated with the Democrats and gave them cover for their actions and have cut them off, too. Guess that weekly invite to the Common Purpose meeting turned out not to be such a hot ticket after all.


The bigger problem for the Democrats, however,  is not that Lewis and Soros are sitting it out – it’s that Lewis and Soros are considered “lead donors.”  Where they go, other donors follow.  If they decide to sit it out, so will others.

The complaints that Soros and Lewis have are the same ones expressed by all those hippies that Robert Gibbs, Joe Biden, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have been punching.  It’s a malaise felt by the entire progressive base, who can’t be spurred into action by being told to “buck up.”

I’ll tell you one thing, though. As pissed off as people are, it’s going to be nothing compared to the rage that will be unleashed if the Catfood Commission’s recommendations to cut Social Security benefits gets passed – and Alice Rivlin says the “stars are aligned” for it to happen.   They could snap the spine of the Democratic party completely with that one.

Citing the same NYT piece-

Nobody Should Give Money to This Crowd

by Taylor Marsh, 30 September 2010 4:00 pm

Pres. Obama, Sen. Reid and Speaker Pelosi compromised on health care without a fight. They did deals in the dark with the insurance companies, not to mention the Catholic Church, then shoved a mandate on health care down the rest of the Democratic Party’s throat, as well as the American public, while movement progressives screamed to high heaven what it would cost them.

They passed stimulus with a big “D” on it that wasn’t what was needed, managing to get people furious about the spending, especially since it wasn’t enough to actually do the job. In other words, they failed to do their job, because they didn’t have the courage to do the stimulus that was actually needed and could have proved Democratic policies can work when they’re done the right way.

Pres. Obama, Sen. Reid and Speaker Pelosi decided that turning into the Bush era crimes of torture, intelligence tampering, as well as constitutional overreach, was not important for Democrats to take up, so not only did they let Bush-Cheney get away with what they did on the run up to the Iraq war, but the negligence of Democratic leadership, starting with Pres. Obama, has actually allowed for the rehabilitation of Bush-Cheney in some quarters.

The Catfood Commission is a prime example. The only reason this was set up is because Pres. Obama wanted it. We don’t need no stinking commission, because Congress is perfectly capable of taking care of Social Security, which means preserving it. However, like in all things, Pres. Obama wanted the cover of a commission so he could blame someone else on what he actually hopes to do: raise the retirement age; cut benefits; privatize elements of the plan. Pick one, or choose all. Why a Democrat would put in play a bipartisan commission on a signature Democratic Party issue that cemented the reputation of the party as working for financial security for all, specifically as Americans age, is something that few Democrats can stomach, myself included.

There is a cluelessness among Democratic leadership in Congress that has forgotten their job and has them siding with the Executive Branch, because Pres. Obama is one of their own, even if he is calling open season on one of the signature Democratic policies that long time Democratic voters believe in, have worked for all of their activist lives, but is also one of the policies that signifies the difference between Democrats and Republicans.

Pres. Obama has already sacrificed health care to insurance companies, putting forth a law that is disliked by the majority of the public, but also will be easy to dismantle by defunding its implementation. He’s mimicked George W. Bush on security issue after issue, while completely forgetting his promise to close Gitmo, with his promises on DADT weighing most gays and lesbians down in disbelief.

So why would anyone in their right mind give buckets of money to the Democrats right now? They shouldn’t and they aren’t, and small donations won’t cut it this time around, especially since they won’t be coming in like they used to. Something that will hit Pres. Obama over the head once re-election time begins.

Sep 30 2010

Punting the Pundits

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

David Weigel: So Long, Jerk

Why liberals will be glad to see Rahm Emanuel go

Every two or three days, the Obama administration tries out a line intended to shame liberals into voting. “Folks, wake up,” said President Obama last week. “Those who didn’t get everything they wanted,” said Vice President Biden this week, “it’s time to just buck up here.”

If the early leaks are right, the “professional left”-Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’s instantly immortal, probably accidental term-is about to get all the bucking-up it needs. Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, according to just about everybody, is probably leaving the White House this week to prove that Chicago can be governed by someone not named “Daley.” He is being treated to more of the rose-scented superlatives that followed him since he returned to politics in 2002, when he ran the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006, and when he joined the Obama administration. “He began each day before the sun did,” said Jake Tapper of ABC News, reporting last night, “often by swimming a mile, and he was perhaps the hardest worker in the White House.”


Arianna Huffington: Replacing Summers: Will Obama Please Wall Street or Struggling Americans?

Help wanted: one of the leading political administrations in the world seeks to fill senior economic position. Duties include putting an implausible spin on dismal economic conditions. Being skilled at improving actual economic conditions not a requirement. Experience as a corporate CEO preferred.

Sadly, if reports are correct, that seems to be the gist of how the Obama administration is going about filling Larry Summers’ soon-to-be vacated seat as the director of the National Economic Council.

According to the New York Times, “News of Mr. Summers’s departure set off speculation that Mr. Obama would replace him with a corporate executive to counter the impression that he is antibusiness.”

Politico was even more specific: “President Barack Obama’s team already knows the ideal candidate to replace him on the National Economic Council — a woman CEO.”

Sep 30 2010

On This Day in History: September 30

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

September 30 is the 273rd day of the year (274th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 92 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1791, The Magic Flute, Die Zauberflote, an opera in two acts composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a German libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder, premiered in Vienna at the Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden. Mozart conducted and Schikaneder played Papageno, while the role of the Queen of the Night was sung by Mozart’s sister-in-law Josepha Hofer. This was Mozart’s last opera.

Sep 30 2010

Morning Shinbun Thursday September 30

Thursday’s Headlines:

Congress punts tough choices until after election

Not too hot, not too cold: could the ‘Goldilocks’ planet support life?


For many with a stake in Alaska native corporations, promise of a better life remains unfulfilled

Democrats Find Many Big Donors Cutting Support


‘Slavery’ uncovered on trawlers fishing for Europe

Wave of strikes cripples Europe as workers vent fury at budget cuts

Middle East

Why the US doesn’t talk to Iran

SAfrica school rethinks Israel ties


Musharraf prepares to launch new Pakistani party

Heavy security for India Ayodhya mosque ruling


Nigerian flood victims face food shortages, disease outbreak

Kenya sends mixed signals as ICC team arrives

Latin America

Brazil election tightens as Dilma Rousseff slips in polls

Sep 30 2010

Obama’s recent record on Civil Liberties

emptywheel is spending a week in Scotland and is likely to be pretty soused most of the time.  She left behind some good stuff about the Obama Administration’s recent record on Civil Liberties.

You know, things he’s fucked up just in the last week or so.

Generally they fall into 5 categories-

  • 5 on Assassination Authority
  • 2 on Intelligence Transparency
  • 2 on Indefinite Detention
  • 1 on Electronic Surveillance
  • 6 on FBI Surveillance of Peace Activists

I’ve published some digests below the fold along with a bonus piece by bmaz on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Assassination Authority

Obama Doesn’t Know Why the Fuck He’s Entitled to Kill Al-Awlaki, He Just Is, Damnit

By: emptywheel Saturday September 25, 2010 11:54 am

This is not a court filing. It’s a “choose your own adventure novel” for the judge:

  1. Is AQAP part of al Qaeda? (if yes, then go to dead al-Awlaki)
  2. Is AQAP an “organized associated force of al Qaeda”? (if yes, then go to dead al-Awlaki)
  3. Do Presidents get to self-authorize going to war (if yes, then go to dead al-Awlakil; if no, go to “alternatives to the AUMF”)
  4. What do you think of the “inherent right to self defense”? (if yes, then go to dead al-Awlaki)
  5. To abide by the Constitution and other laws, the President can’t be bound by “generalized standards.” The End. (go to dead al-Awlaki)

And mind you, we’ve set off on this “choose your own adventure in tyranny novel” even before we’ve gotten to the government’s invocation of state secrets. Just in case you had any doubts about their claim to unlimited power…

Sep 30 2010

“I do not Know” is a Legitimate Answer, Sometimes 20100929

Many of you know that I regularly post and host the Pique the Geek series here and elsewhere on Sunday evenings.  One of my rules is to prepare myself for questions and corrections (both of which I relish) after posting.  Some of you may not know that I NEVER look up anything after posting, unless specifically requested to do so, and when I specifically say that I have in the comments.  There is a reason for that.

When I write my scientific blogs, I prepare for them.  For each minute that you read them, often more than an hour of research has gone into them.  But I can never know everything, and the comments are usually the most interesting and often the most illuminating part of my posts.  I would not have it any other way!

Sep 30 2010

State Killing: Howling At The Moon

Can you hear that? That’s me, howling. It’s not complicated why. Last night I started to write a blog post, in fact, this blog post. I had maybe 500 words typed into the box and then I moved the mouse and the next thing I knew, poof, there was nada, zilch, nothing. All gone. Totally vaporized. That’s when I started howling. I continue even now.

The blog post, well, this blog post is/was about state killing. There have been two horrendous, macabre executions in the last weeks. Let me briefly recall them for you before I move on to what I think might be my point.

Sep 30 2010

Prime Time

Lots of broadcast premiers, none worth watching despite the paucity of programming elsewhere.  I suggest a nap or a good book or spending time with friends and family.  How about a nice game of Yahtzee?


Dave hosts Bloomberg (you should really click) and Jesse Eisenberg.  Jon has Linda Polman, Stephen Steve Rattner.  No Alton.

BoondocksGuess Hoe’s Coming to Dinner, also Harvey Birdman, Yabba Dabba Don.

Yabba dabba do?

How ’bout Yabba dabba don’t.

Woke up this morning.

Ya got no fancy shoes.

Ya got no fancy shoes.

Ya got no fancy shoes.

Zap2it TV Listings, Yahoo TV Listings

Sep 30 2010

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Workers swarm Europe’s streets in anti-cuts protests

by Roddy Thomson, AFP

55 mins ago

BRUSSELS (AFP) – Angry workers mounted mass street protests against spending cuts across Europe Wednesday, bringing cities to a halt, clashing with police and even ramming the gates of Ireland’s parliament.

In Brussels, the heart of the European Union, tens of thousands of people from 30 countries joined the city’s biggest march in a decade as riot police barricaded the EU headquarters against the backlash to brutal spending cuts.

Spain staged its first general strike since 2002 and thousands more also rallied in cities from Portugal to Poland, although leaders such as France’s Nicolas Sarkozy pressed on with a “historic” attack on soaring overspending.

Sep 29 2010

The New ‘Enemies’ List

Now that Peter Daou and Politico have thoughfully provided us with an Obama Administration ‘Enemies List’ and I have gotten over my embarrassment at not being famous and influential enough to be on it (yet), I thought I’d share one of its prominent members, John Aravosis’, reaction-

(E)ven when you say “the blogs helped cause the President’s problems” what does that mean?  The Obama administration and its apologists would have you believe that the liberal blogs have an almost svengali-like power to trick our readers, and Democratic voters generally, into being disappointed with the President and Congress.  I’m not convinced that our readers are so stupid that they’d believe “lies.”  We could only get away with lying once or twice before our stories simply wouldn’t pan out, our predictions wouldn’t end up happening, and our readers would realize that we had no clue what was really going on in Washington politics.  Except we ended up being right.

On gay rights, Joe and I have an almost perfect track record of predicting everything the Obama administration and Democratic Congress were going to do on DADT, DOMA and ENDA, and ultimately, in predicting just how much trouble our community would be in as a result of the Democrats’ disinterest in our issues.

But the gay community isn’t alone.  Glenn Greenwald and the ACLU surely haven’t been wrong about their early warnings regarding Obama’s civil liberties policies.  And were environmentalists wrong to question whether Team Obama would act forcefully and quickly on global warming?  Have Latinos been wrong to worry that Obama wouldn’t keep his promise to pass immigration reform last year, and now this year?  Then there’s health care reform – yes, the President and the Congress did something, but not nearly what they were capable of doing with the majorities and the public support we gave them.

Perhaps the reason the President’s voters-turned-critics have influence, and perhaps the reason the President and the party are increasingly less popular, isn’t because we’re consistently wrong – but rather because we’re right.

And nothing makes you more hated by fools and liars than being right.

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