Monthly Archives: March 2009

Politico Covers Chuck Grassley’s Twittering

Hey! Check it out! The contents of my Chuck Grassley Twitter post were reported on by Politico’s Shenanigans and a part of my post was quoted:

At first blush, the irascible, frugal, cranky — take your pick — Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) doesn’t seem the type who gladly suffers lobbyists. Recently, upon disagreeing with a Grocery Manufacturers Association lobbyist, the senator wrote a scathing letter about the lobbyist and mailed it directly to the guy’s boss. 

However, all that aside, he Twittered — it pains us to say it — in the wee hours of Friday morning: “Attention Ia legislative business lobbyists: I visit w many Repbli can REPs and Sntors. Don’t take ur frends 4granted.U spend all time w Dem [sic].” 

First of all, Chuck Grassley Twitters? 

Second, he has some serious typing issues. 

Third: Get on it, Iowa lobbyists! The king has beckoned. 

One observer seemed stunned, and not just by one thing: “Did Sen. Chuck Grassley really just ask to be lobbied (in what I believe to be some kind of Creole accent) via the public Twitter network? Isn’t that supposed to be a behind-the-scenes kind of thing? Wow.”  <—–

Grassley responded to Shenanigans thusly: “I meant for the posting to speak for itself. The message is everybody should be part of the political dialogue.” 

Nice.

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McConnell: Message Is Fine, Messengers Not So Great

Washington Wire‘s Susan Davis reports this story:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn’t believe the Republican Party has the wrong message, just the wrong messengers.

“We don’t think it’s a flawed message as much as we haven’t had the right candidates out there to put these races in the win column and we’re working very hard to turn it around,” McConnell told reporters today at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

Senate Republicans have lost about a dozen seats in the previous two election cycles, and now control just 41 seats unless Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman scores an upset in the ongoing recount battle against Democrat Al Franken.

McConnell identified candidate recruitment as the biggest challenge the party has faced in recent years, noting that it was “really hard” to convince Republicans to run with an unpopular Republican president in office and a sour electorate.

He said he is working with Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who is running the campaign operation, to turn it around in 2010. “I’m optimistic that we’re going to do a lot better in candidate recruitment in this cycle than we have over the last two,” he said, “And it’s kind of a statement of the obvious that the better candidate you have the more likely you are to win. So I think that’s the starting place.”

McConnell likewise expressed frustration at the lack of diversity in the Senate Republican ranks. “I’m not happy with the fact that our only Hispanic member of the Republican Conference has retired,” he said of retiring Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, “We don’t have nearly as many women senators in the Republican Conference as we’d like to have. We’re working on all of those things.”

The minority leader was less candid, however, when asked about home state GOP Sen. Jim Bunning, who has publicly clashed with Cornyn and the press in recent weeks over his re-election bid. Some Republicans believe the party will have a better chance to hold on to the seat if Bunning, 77 years old, retires.

“I don’t have any observations on that,” McConnell said.

So…what’s the message? Low spending, low taxes? Was McCain unable to deliver this message? I thought I heard it loud and clear. If I’m wrong, if there’s a significantly more comprehensive and perhaps fresher message that I have yet to hear articulated, I think Senator McConnell should do the honors.

At the same time, I feel it odd that Senator McConnell seems to be stressing that the candidates his own party put up for election, candidates I want to assume the GOP thought would do a good job, were just…well…bad.

Perhaps the inability to recruit real talent  and the quality of the message are somehow related…

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GOP: The First 50 Days

Craig Crawford over at CQ’s Trail Mix put together this great video highlighting the GOP’s first 50 days of the new political term:

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Jim Leach: The GOP, Michael Steele, And That Big Tent Everybody Keeps Talking About

Remember Jim Leach? The moderate Republican Rep. from Iowa defeated in 2006 by Dave Loebsack in a major upset partially attributed to his refusal to allow Republican activists to distribute an anti-gay mailing? Phew. Had a lot to say there.

Today, on Politico’s The Arena, Leach posted a very thoughtful comment on where the GOP is today, how it moved there, and why everybody keeps talking about tents. The initial question asked was: “Is there room for Michael Steele in the GOP tent? How small can a tent get anyway?”

Jim Leach’s response:

If he doesn’t survive it will be a shame

Yes, this is all about the most overused metaphor in Republican politics – the tent. At issue is not only how big it is but how many doors it has. 

The pillars of Goldwater’s tent were decidedly of an individual rights, individual initiative nature. They were not considered strong or compassionate enough to hold a majority of the American people, at least at the time. The tent therefore got broadened with 1) a Southern strategy, based in part on Republican connivance but principally on a Democratic Party becoming philosophically committed to a Northern abolitionist soul, and 2) an appeal to fundamentalist pro-life values which gave a perceived moral legitimacy to a collectivist spectrum of issues beyond the realm of the traditional Rockefeller/Goldwater divisions within the party. 

What this meant was that the door to the Republican tent was opened to include two huge groups that had for most of the 20th Century been Democrats – Catholics and fundamentalist Christians. At the same time, however, as these new entrants came in the front door, traditional “country club” Republicans who had been comfortable with Taft, Eisenhower, Goldwater, Ford, and the gentler sides of Reagan and G.H.W. Bush began walking out the back of the tent. They – doctors, lawyers, business leaders – found their values and their leadership challenged. Understandably, the new entrants to the party determined that they didn’t simply want to be manipulated at the voting booth as “strategists” from Atwater to Rove may have wanted. They wanted to lead, to insist on more absolutist approaches to values, and abandon the tolerance and diversity which had been the progressive pinions of Republican philosophy from 1853 through much of the 20th Century. 

In this context it is impressive not that Michael Steele is proving controversial but that he was elected in the first place. If he doesn’t survive, it will be a shame; but the party should be given more than a little credit that he has been given a chance.

Interesting.

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Official Cramer-Stewart Interview, Pt. 3

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Official Cramer-Stewart Interview, Pt. 2

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Official Cramer-Stewart Interview, Pt. 1

Watch Jon Stewart take Jim Cramer down like a skilled big-game hunter. Can we consider Cramer big-game? Is there a minimum size requirement?

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Would Somebody Please Translate Chuck Grassley (remote via Twitter) For Me?

I just received this Tweet (punctuation for punctuation) from the ever-comical Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA):

ChuckGrassley: Attention la legislative business lobbyists:I visit w many Repbli can REPs and Sntors. Don’t take ur frends 4granted. U spend all time w Dem

Did Sen. Chuck Grassley really just ask to be lobbied  (in what I believe to be some kind of Creole accent) via the public Twitter network? Isn’t that supposed to be a behind-the-scenes kind of thing? Wow. Wow.

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Cramer vs. Stewart Duke It Out…And It’s A Thing Of Beauty

Cramer vs. Stewart. I’m so glad this happened.

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Jon Stewart does such an amazing job with the Daily Show, and while I realize that it’s the format of the show + the nature of Comedy Central that allow it to be what it is, I sometimes feel like he’s wasting significantly greater talents (could he be the next Plouffe or Axelrod but HILARIOUS?). I hope that at least either he or Stephen Colbert soon makes an irreverent feature-length docucomedy. Or they could make one TOGETHER. And Tina Fey. Is that too much politihumor in one place?

More analysis on the actual clip to come later…

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Twitter Gains Legitimacy?

Interesting post from Glenn Thrush over at Politico dealing with Twitter and politics (two items that seem to go hand in hand more and more often these days):

George Stephanopoulos is grilling Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in a language she can understand — Tweet.

GS: @clairecmc Hey Senator, George here. On This Week, you signaled support for omnibus (great to have you btw) What changed?18 minutes ago from web in reply to clairecmc

CM: Ultimately just couldn’t do it. Not just earmrks tho, also increase in spendng(8%too much)& failure to reconcile $ with stimuls

McCaskill has about 15,000 Twitter followers; Stephanopoulos about 133,000.

[Shameless plug: I Tweet at GlennThrush]

But George’s query represents, it seems to me, a logical challenge for a technology that has created a new, novel and closely monitored semi-public space.

McCaskill has generated great publicity with her entertaining and often candid Tweets — clearly enhancing her political reputation (at least with reporters) through the medium. So doesn’t that give reporters the right to use the same space to pose hard-nosed questions?

Even more so, due to greater and greater use of the service by politicians like Sen. McCaskill in an attempt to create more general transparency for the media and constituents alike, has Twitter “accidentally” become a much more significant  journalistic tool than had ever been envisioned?

Thoughts?

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Bernie Madoff Grinds My Gears

According to a Rasmussen poll out today, when asked whether or not Bernie Madoff or his wife should be allowed to keep any of their money stolen in the $64.8 billion Ponzi scheme, 81% of respondents answered no.

81%. Definitely a majority.

But what about the other 19% of schmucks who either responded yes, the Madoffs should be able to keep some of their money, or that they aren’t really sure? Who are these people? Are they also running Ponzi schemes? Who looks at what Madoff did and says “eh, could have been worse. Let him keep some for his effort?”

Let’s pretend that Bernie Madoff’s crime wasn’t stealing enormous amounts of money from trusting investors, but rather staffing his household with illegal “indentured servants” from somewhere in Southeast Asia (I’m keeping this high-class). Asking whether or not he can keep some of the money he stole is sort of like asking the INS to let him keep a couple of his, let’s be honest, slaves because they do a particularly  good job on the floors and it’s just so hard to find adequate help these days. Would anybody be running polls on this, let alone considering the request with even the remotest amount of seriousness? Of course not! 

Bernie Madoff cheated a huge number of people out of an exorbitant amount of money. Simply because his crimes allow him to dress and live well, doesn’t make him a VIP member of society. So no, Bernie Madoff should keep absolutely nothing. And as for his wife being allowed to hold on to $70 million to live on while Bernie is in prison? ARE THEY NUTS? This woman needs $70 million dollars to survive on? Does she eat diamonds?

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Heath Shuler Not Running In 2010. North Carolina Erupts Into Spontaneous Celebration.

According to Poltico’s The Scorecard, it has  been confirmed by a Shuler sposkesperson that Rep. Heath Shuler  (D-NC) will not be running against Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) in the 2010 NC Senate race.

Phew! As much as I would like to see a Democrat take that seat, I’m not entirely convinced that Heath Shuler would be a better representative for North Carolina than Burr…and that’s saying a lot. 

So who’s left?

In my mind, there are two potential Democratic candidates for that 2010 race, but only one viable one (sorry Brad Miller). I’ve prepared a short bio below:

Rep. Bob Etheridge– This guy is LITERALLY salt of the Earth. A Representative from NC’s 2nd district (essentially the area in the middle of the state slightly east and south of Raleigh), who has really put in his time:

  • Served in the U.S. Army
Exactly

Exactly

  • Small tobacco farmer and hardware store owner by trade
This may or may not be Etheridge and his wife.

This may or may not be Etheridge and his wife.

  • Served as Hartnett County Commissioner for 4 years
Trust me, it's a good one.

Trust me, it's a good one.

  • Served 4 terms in the NC House of Representatives
Mythical

Mythical

  • Elected North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction (2 terms)
I have not been able to confirm that Etheridge wrote this himself, but it's not entirely unlikely.

I have not been able to confirm that Etheridge wrote this himself, but it's not entirely unlikely.

  • Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996 and still there
And thus, Bob enters the big game.

And thus, Bob enters the big game.

  • Member of the New Democrat Coalition
(Need New Logo)

(Need New Logo)

Fun Fact: “Bob” is not short for Robert, but rather for “Bobby Ray.”  This is not a joke.

How can North Carolina not fall in love with this guy?

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Dickipedia!

Dickipedia

Dickipedia

Very funny site from 23/6.

Of course, since it isn’t actually a real wiki, it isn’t publicly editable. Therefore, I challenge those of you out there who would like to expand this venerable project with the addition of  your very own choices for political/media dicks (ahem, Eric Cantor please?), to send a message to 236.com and their parent company huffingtonpost.com demanding editorial rights for the rest of us. Otherwise I’m starting douchebagipedia.com ASAP. Do you really want the competition Dickipedia? Huh?

And to be honest douchebagipedia.com just doesn’t have the same ring to it…

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John McCain Gets a Reality Check, or (alternately), Stay Out of South Carolina, Sen. McCain!

As a twitter follower of Senator John McCain (twitter name SenJohnMcCain), my text message box has clearly noticed that the Arizona Senator has started regularly sending out a Letterman-style top 10 list of  that day’s 10 worst earmarks from the Omnibus bill. Granted, as a supporter of superfluous things like science, the environment, and the arts, I generally don’t agree with him, but this is his schtick and has been for a long time so I’m not at all surprised to see him list something like beaver management in North Carolina as an extraordinary luxury that the federal government shouldn’t have to foot the bill for. Has John McCain ever seen a North Carolina beaver? Has he ever looked into their beady little eyes? They’re like gremlins. Greatest national threat (besides bears) in my opinion. 

In a Friday opinion piece from the Myrtle Beach newspaper The Sun News however, it appears that there are some who do not have my sense of understanding (and let’s be honest, rightfully so. John McCain! Get your act together!): 

#6. $950,000 for a Convention Center in Myrtle Beach, SC

– Tweet from Sen. John McCain.

Sen. John McCain, the 2008 GOP candidate for president, has been having fun with his twitter.com account lately. He (or perhaps an aide) scrutinizes the $410 billion omnibus appropriations bill under consideration in Congress for earmarked projects that strike him as silly, then publishes daily “pork” lists on the micro-blogging Web site. Among the projects that made one of McCain’s Wednesday list is $950,000 for expanding the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

The purpose of this pork-identification exercise, apparently, is to make congressional earmarks a political wedge issue for the Republicans (even though 40 percent of the earmarks in the bill are attributable to Republicans). Demonize earmark-backed projects as pork of socialistic nature attributable to President Obama and the Democrats, and perhaps you can re-energize the tattered GOP base.

Twitter is made to order for such political misdirection. As readers familiar with the service know, it limits messages to 140 characters – the perfect format for context-free political zingers. McCain has more than 143,000 followers on Twitter, so his zingers reach a large audience. And considering that McCain’s true believers share his “tweets” with others (that’s how we found out about it), the senator’s audience might run in the millions. Regardless, readers of McCain’s Convention Center tweet are now invited to think – without the inconvenience of critical reflection – that the Myrtle Beach Convention Center project has no value.

Wrong. The project has huge potential for the long-term creation of wealth and jobs here on the Grand Strand, and the $950,000 infusion advances that goal.

The proposed expansion of the Convention Center to include space for larger trade shows got a lot of ink a few years back. Larger shows in an expanded center would fill up local hotels at the times of years when occupancy is low while energizing restaurants and retail establishments in the during typically slow times of year, building jobs and economic activity for the entire region.

Equally important, larger trade shows could acquaint new visitors with decision-making authority with our communities. In tandem with an aggressive, well-run local economic-development outreach effort, trade-show visits could become an important recruitment tool for nontourism diversification of our local economy.

To that end, the S.C. General Assembly two years ago approved a

$7 million grant toward land acquisition for the expansion project – money that must be spent by 2011 or lost. The total estimated cost of the expansion is $70 million – a price that local, not federal, taxpayers will pay. The new $950,000 in earmark money will go into the city’s land-acquisition kitty.

The irony in all this: In bad-mouthing the project on Twitter, McCain threw Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., his supposed close pal, to the wolves.

It was Graham, long a supporter of Grand Strand economic-development projects, who inserted the Convention Center earmark into the appropriations bill. Our counter-tweet to McCain:Graham deserves praise, not mockery, for this earmark. The money in question won’t be wasted.

Just one word: BOOYAH. This editorial gives the kind of legitimate explanation that exists for many of the earmarks that are being ridiculed: creation of jobs, infrastructure, and investment in the future of the local economy. As much as we may theoretically hate the idea of specific legislators marking specific money for their own state projects, it is a) a big part of what we actually elect our Congressional representatives to do, and b) not inherently evil. Clearly the system needs an overhaul, as the number of earmarks in the Omnibus is exorbitant, but to say that this money will definitely go to waste, rather than pumping necessary capital into local communities and potentially creating jobs/ tourism/ various other revenue streams, is simple and silly. So if the states desperately need money, and we know that they do, and Republicans want smaller government, less taxes, more state control, etc., why are earmarks not the solution instead of the problem? And in all seriousness, if not earmarks, is there a better means of appropriating the necessary money to the states that need it without creating greater bureaucracy? 

*60% of earmarks in the Omnibus come from Democrats, 40% from Republicans. That essentially represents the make-up of Congress so this is definitely a bipartisan issue.

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R.I.P. Countdown

Wow. Keith Olberman doesn’t know how to ask a non-leading interview question. It’s artistic really. And for me, to some degree, it’s a lot like indulging in my favorite Popeye’s value meal. But, like Popeye’s, I am well aware that it’s just bad for me. Shouldn’t a news show, even one that is openly biased, sometimes have people with differing opinions on to, I don’t know, disagree? Thus, like the delicious chicken fingers with the perfectly battered fries, biscuit, and spicy honey mustard, I will be foregoing Countdown for a steamed broccoli and poached salmon show like…Campbell Brown?

C-SPAN: And Then There Was One.

But It Feels So Good...

But It Feels So Good...

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