I’m hours behind on this, but here are your Bush-era Office of Legal Counsel memos.
Bloomberg reported today that “President Barack Obama’s economic advisers are increasingly concerned about the U.S. Senate’s delay in confirming the nominations of Austan Goolsbee and Cecilia Rouse to the White House Council of Economic Advisers”:
A Senate Democratic aide said Republicans had relayed some concerns about the nominations that the administration and party lawmakers are working to address. Under Senate rules, any senator can block consideration of a nominee. “There are some objections on the Republican side that we are trying to deal with,” said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Reid.
Goolsbee and Rouse appeared before the Senate Banking Committee on January 15, but were not approved until February 10, and there is currently no vote scheduled for them before the full Senate. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) said he hadn’t “heard one way or another” if one of his colleagues had placed an official hold on their nominations.
According to Bloomberg, “without Senate confirmation, the two economists are barred from advising the president as the administration tackles the worst financial crisis in 70 years.”
For anyone familiar with the work of neocon hysteric Frank Gaffney — who we last saw suggesting that Gov. Sarah Palin’s national security credentials had been achieved “by osmosis” — the fact that his organization’s new report on The Iran Lobby is a pathetic fog of alarmist innuendos and unsubstantiated assertions should come as no surprise.
But rather than spend valuable time demonstrating why the report’s research method makes “guilt by association” seem like a comparatively rigorous argumentative framework, I’ll just quote from the report’s conclusion (pg 25), which lists some of the people the report claims “have been associated in one way or another with the Iran Lobby”:
• Fletcher School professor and Middle East scholar, Dr. Vali Nasr, who will, as noted above, be Ambassador Richard Holbrooke’s senior advisor – a position that will assuredly involve decisions about dealings with Afghanistan’s neighbor.
• Dr. Susan Rice, the Obama administration’s new Ambassador to the United Nations. Amb. Rice served on the board of directors for the Center for a New American Security. While CNAS is not formally connected directly with either NIAC or Trita Parsi, the foreign policy positions of its affiliates correspond strongly to the preferred policy positions of Tehran’s mullahs.
• Ambassador Dennis Ross, who will be a senior advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for Iran policy, was previously an “Expert” for CNAS.
• Council on Foreign Relations Committee president and another CNAS “Expert” Richard Haas, reportedly is under consideration for a top job in the Obama foreign policy team.
Do you oppose air strikes on Iran? So do Tehran’s mullahs! Congratulations, you are now part of the Iran Lobby. But really, if the neocons ever intend to be taken seriously again, they need to get some of these characters in check.
Yesterday, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel called Rush Limbaugh the “intellectual force” of the GOP. “And whenever a Republican criticize him, they have to run back and apologize to him, and say they were misunderstood,” he observed. Today, ThinkProgress first reported that Steele dismissed Limbaugh as an “entertainer” this weekend on CNN:
STEELE: So let’s put it into context here. Let’s put it into context here. Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh, his whole thing is entertainment. Yes, it’s incendiary. Yes, it’s ugly.
Limbaugh fired back on his show today, sneering at Steele’s leadership of the Republican Party:
“So I am an entertainer and I have 20 million listeners because of my great song and dance routine,” Limbaugh said. “Michael Steele, you are head of the Republican National Committee. You are not head of the Republican party. Tens of millions of conservatives and Republicans have nothing to do with the Republican National Committee…and when you call them asking for money, they hang up on you.
Just as Emanuel predicted, Steele has quickly backed down. Politico reports that Steele “reached out” to Limbaugh today to say that he didn’t mean what he said.
“My intent was not to go after Rush – I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh,” Steele said in a telephone interview. “I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. … There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.” [...]
“I went back at that tape and I realized words that I said weren’t what I was thinking,” Steele said. “It was one of those things where I thinking I was saying one thing, and it came out differently. What I was trying to say was a lot of people … want to make Rush the scapegoat, the bogeyman, and he’s not.”
Steele made clear that he will welcome Limbaugh into the party,” calling him a “very valuable conservative voice for our party.” “He does what he does best, which is provoke,” Steel said. “My job is to try to bring us all together.”
Steele isn’t alone. Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) and Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) have previously dared to criticize Limbaugh but then quickly backed down. To quote Rush, a lot of Republicans are being told to “bend over and grab the ankles” for him.
Check out ThinkProgress’s latest posts on Rush Limbaugh here.
Our guest blogger is Raj Goyle, the State Representative for the 87th District of Kansas.
The nomination of Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius to head the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is a good sign for all those who support a common sense strategy for national health reform. Governor Sebelius is eminently qualified for the challenges she now faces. Her proven track record — as a Democratic Governor of a traditionally Republican state — makes her uniquely suited to help President Obama contain the spiraling costs of health care, expand access, and improve quality.
As Governor, Insurance Commissioner, and state legislator, her number one priority has always been to improve Kansans’ access to affordable, quality health care. When she ran for Insurance Commissioner, she refused to accept a dime of contributions from the insurance industry. While Commissioner, she concluded that a proposed merger between two major insurance companies would drastically raise premiums for Kansas citizens, so she blocked the sale – an unprecedented move for an insurance commissioner of any state. She promoted a series of consumer-oriented bills in the Legislature: a patient’s bill of rights; mandatory maternity coverage; an initiative to protect the privacy of consumers. And not only did she successfully fight for the people of Kansas, she did so while reducing the budget of the Commission by 19%. She knows that better health care need not lead to bigger government.
As Governor, she has also been an effective leader on health issues. She prodded the Legislature to pass legislation consolidating the state’s seven major medical programs and creating the Kansas Health Policy Authority, which has simplified the process of obtaining health care and helped contain costs. She spearheaded the effort for state employees to negotiate a new health insurance contract, reducing premiums for thousands of Kansans. She launched the Healthy KIDS program, which has expanded coverage for low-income children, and signed a bill doubling the tax credit for small businesses that provide employee health savings accounts. Some of her initiatives have not passed our deeply Republican Legislature but even those proposals — such as a statewide smoking ban — have shifted the debate in our state toward pragmatic solutions that may one day become law.
In many ways Kathleen Sebelius is the ideal leader to help President Obama lead the fight to save our health care system from its current crisis. She is a talented consensus builder, a gifted administrator, and a true health care expert. We in Kansas are sad to see her go, but our loss is the nation’s gain.
Excellent column on Iran from Roger Cohen. Too good to quote, really. But the key theme is “the U.S. propensity to fixate on and demonize a country through a one-dimensional lens, with a sometimes disastrous chain of results.”
Reader J.C. emails in:
Your colleagues over at ThinkProgress have a post up talking about Limbaugh’s speech at CPAC. In his address, Limbaugh claims that Dems can’t “can’t accomplish what they want unless they appeal to Reagan voters,” and for years, I would have agreed with him; but it seems to me that younger voters – of whom I am one – are not nearly as enamoured with the cowboy president as our parents were. Public opinion of Reagan is gradually changing, and he seems to get more criticism for his mistakes now than he did during and directly following his presidency. All those calls for his head to be on Rushmore or the $100 bill have quieted as his domestic and economic policies appear more and more problematic.
So here is a question for you: How many of the Reagan voters have come out from under the spell of the Great Communicator? Perhaps more specifically, how many of the people who voted for Reagan are now dead, replaced by Obama voters? Some cold, hard numbers could help fight Limbaugh’s dictums, or at least our perception of the validity of those claims.
I think this nails the basic problem with nostalgia for the Reagan electoral coalition. When Reagan won in 1980, the younger people allowed to vote were born in 1962. In the last election, voters who are at least that old were somewhat more than half the electorate and John McCain did fine with this group:
Specifically, McCain won about 51 percent of the vote among the approximately 53 percent of the electorate that was at least 45 years old. But Obama won a decisive victory among Americans younger than 45—precisely none of whom were part of Ronald Reagan’s original coalition, and few of whom were part of his 1984 re-election campaign. Four years from now, Americans who were too young to vote in 1980 will be an even larger share of the electorate. Obviously, one could link this to other changes in the racial and ethnic makeup of the electorate and specific generational differences in point-of-view on environmental and gay rights issues.
The Kaiser Network points out that on Friday, “several dozen Republican health care and press aides participated in the first of a series of ‘health care boot camp’ sessions presented by the House Republican Conference“:
According to CQ Today, the session, led by Heritage Foundation chief lobbyist and government relations expert Michael Franc, involved a “lesson on how Democrats bungled their 1993 and 1994 effort to overhaul the health care system” (Armstrong, CQ Today, 2/27).
The Democrats certainly made their share of mistakes and the Obama administration is doing its best to avoid President Clinton’s pitfalls. But what does “government relations expert” Michael Franc think of comprehensive health care reform? Here is how he characterized the health care portions of the stimulus legislation:
The health provisions in the House stimulus bill would expand dependence on the already-unsound Medicaid entitlement program, distort health care choices for unemployed workers, and set up a federal infrastructure that could be used as a tool for government rationing of medical treatments, procedures, and services.
This very same kind of misrepresentation stalled reform in the 90s, resulting in today’s status quo. But the irony of the meeting is difficult to overstate. Franc likely instructed “Republican health care and press aides” — government employees who receive their health care through the government (the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program) — that Obama’s proposal to establish a FEHB-like health care exchange (with some important modifications) would ration health care.
I don’t see Congressional staffers waiting in long lines for their annual flu shots. Do you?
In the days and weeks since President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, conservatives have distorted its provisions in a desperate attempt to mislead the public about what the package will do. First they mocked parks preservation funds as spending on “grass.” Then they repeatedly and falsely claimed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sought $30 million to save a mouse. And they completely made up a mythical high-speed rail line between L.A. and Las Vegas, gleefully attacking the “magnetic levitation” train apparently because they thought the term sounds funny.
Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) took the lies to a new level today when he — with the help of an enthusiastic Fox News’s Megyn Kelly — declared that the 2009 omnibus bill included funding for a train traveling straight from “Disney” to Nevada’s most famous brothel, the Moonlight Bunny Ranch:
KELLY: It’s a super railroad, of sorts — a line that will deliver customers straight from Disney, we kid you not, to the doorstep of the moonlight bunny ranch brothel in Nevada. I say, to the moonlight Bunny Ranch brothel in Nevada. So should your tax dollars be paying for these kinds of projects? [...]
FRANKS: The majority leader of the U.S. Senate, Harry Reid has fought for this publicly and is committed to this project, even in the face of criticism. … If this is something that is truly the priority of the majority leader of the US senate, it’s pretty late in the day, Megyn.
ThinkProgress was unable to find such an earmark in the omnibus spending bill. When asked to point to the specific provision, Franks’ office would only tell ThinkProgress to contact Reid’s office.
Reid’s office confirmed that Franks is referring to a proposal to refurbish a historic railroad line between Gold Hill, NV, and Carson City — hardly a direct line from L.A. to the “doorstep” of a brothel. Considering there’s no funding for high-speed rail between L.A. and Las Vegas — despite Republicans’ frenetic assertions to the contrary — the idea of a Disneyland-Bunny Ranch supertrain is far-fetched, to say the least.
Ironically, at the end of the pathetically ill-informed segment, Kelly asked how politicians can be held accountable for these mythical boondoggles; Franks replied with praise for Fox News: “Fortunately, people like yourself and Fox News are a tremendous help in that regard because they tell the people — you know, sunlight has a way of being an accountability all by itself.”
MediaMatters notes, “Fox News will find any excuse to run photos of scantily-clad women.”
Unstaining Al Gore’s good name 2: He is not “guilty of inaccuracies and overstatements” and is owed a correction and apology by the New York Times
I will examine here the February 24 New York Times article by Andy Revkin to show that Al Gore is not “guilty of inaccuracies and overstatements,” as he was accused.
Part 1 detailed how Roger Pielke, Jr. started all this by repeatedly misstating what Gore had said in his AAAS talk (video here). These indefensible charges would have died on the gossip grapevine of the blogosphere, had they not been picked up by Revkin.
I have written multiple emails to Andy in an effort to get him to clear Gore’s name in print, and he refuses. If he won’t, I feel that someone must for the record and the search engines. If I could clear Gore’s name without criticizing Andy, I would. But I can’t.
My reason for writing this post is simple. Having your reputation stained in print in the New York Times is a very big deal for anyone because:
- That story is reprinted and excerpted around the planet. It lives on forever.
- The NYT is the “paper of record,” and thus considered highly credible (though it shouldn’t be).
Let’s look at exactly what Revkin wrote in “In Debate on Climate Change, Exaggeration Is a Common Pitfall” (original links, emphasis added):