Attention WikiLeaks junkies

December 3, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

As you’ve probably noticed, Passport has turned into an essentially WikiLeaks-only zone over the last couple of days. In the interest of consolidating the massive amounts of WikiLeaks related content coming in — and to allow Passport to cover some of the other things happening in the world today — we’ve created the dedicated blog WikiLeaked to dig through the cables as they are released. WikiLeaked will also be a one-stop shop for WikiLeaks related content from all the other blogs.

We’ll continue to cross-post items on the fallout of the cables and the the latest on Julian Assange here at Passport.

FP Passport

DeMint turns attention to 2012

December 2, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

(CNN) – Republican South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint turned his focus on 2012 by targeting incumbent Democratic senators over their vote on an earmark moratorium.

DeMint, a Tea Party movement favorite, sent an email to supporters of his Senate Conservatives Fund Wednesday that criticized four senators who are up for reelection 2012, noting that each member hails from a state President Obama lost in 2008.

He highlighted Montana Sen. Jon Tester, Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.

“These senators are nice folks but they have ignored the will of the American people and they must be replaced with principled conservatives in 2012,” DeMint wrote. “We’ve already begun the process of building campaigns against these other liberals in the Senate who are driving our nation deeper and deeper into debt.”

A bill to end the use of earmarks, a legislative provision that directs funds to a specific project, failed Tuesday in the Senate with a vote of 39 to 56.

To encourage Republican candidates in the next election DeMint urged his supporters to take three steps: raise money, suggest possible conservative challengers and recruit more Americans to his cause.

He said Republicans can win the four Senate races if the group raises $ 4 million.

DeMint supported conservative Republican and Tea Party-backed candidates throughout the 2010 campaign, and Wednesday’s email marks his entry into the 2012 cycle.

CNN Political Ticker

Attention Amazon shoppers!

November 24, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Shameless commercial announcement: With the holidays near and Black Friday on, well Friday, I want remind you know that if you are buying a gift on Amazon, click on one of my Amazon ads. Thanks! I get a teensy commission.

Thanks again!

Marathon Pundit

The Center Of Attention

November 22, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 


Nate Silver notes Palin's ability to dominate the news cycle:

If Ms. Palin runs, there is probably some value to the candidate who positions himself as the “anti-Palin”, particularly since many Republicans have trepidations about how well Ms. Palin might fare in a general election against President Obama. But if she does not run, any attacks on her might seem gratuitous and could be counterproductive.

Ms. Palin may not be the front-runner in a traditional sense (although it’s not clear that any of the other candidates are either). But she literally commands as much of the public’s attention as the President of the United States, and the strategy for the other candidates will have to revolve around her to some significant degree. In fact, since it is uncertain whether she will run or not, they will effectively have to develop two separate sets of strategies, one contingent upon the assumption that she will enter the race and the other on the bet that she won’t.

(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

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Attention Amazon shoppers!

November 19, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Decision PointsShameless commercial announcement: With the holidays near, I want remind you know that if you are buying a gift on Amazon, click on one of my Amazon ads. Thanks!

Marathon Pundit

Attention Tea Party Citizens: Rand Paul no longer supports a government shutdown

November 18, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

… oh and Dan Coats is a lobbyist, John Kasich is a TV personality and Pat Toomey wants to do away with Social Security and make it easier for companies to outsource your jobs. These and other myths will soon be exploded for you, dear teabaggies, but thanks for playing. From ThinkProgress: In an interview […]
The Reid Report

Fusion centers gaining national attention

November 16, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Federally funded fusion centers are making headlines again. Michigan Messenger first began reporting on these centers in 2008. The centers are supposed to coordinate anti-terrorism information sharing between local law enforcement and federal authorities. The centers were developed as part of plans to revamp the nation’s ability to detect terrorist activity before any plots could have a chance to be carried out.

Unfortunately, the 72 sites, including one here in Michigan, have been doing far more than sharing terrorism information, reports the Los Angeles Times.

But it turns out that homegrown terrorism pales in frequency and fatalities compared with typical street crime, so many of the centers have begun collecting and distributing criminal intelligence, even of the most mundane kind.

In the process, Homeland Security Department officials say, the centers are developing a system to receive, sort and share crucial information. And they say it’s too soon to judge the program, which is likely to grow in importance as a tool in detecting terrorism before it erupts.

And former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge has weighed in on the situation, voice criticism at a recent event.

“We thought if we just threw the name out there, built a bunch of them, we’d feel a lot better,” former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said this month at George Washington University. “And I frankly think there’s too many of them. We still don’t have quite the protocol we need to make sure that they’re effective.”

Those concerns were raised in Michigan Messenger reporting in 2008 when Michigan Messenger’s sibling site the Colorado Independent looked into fusion centers and found mission creep and a lack of firm authority.

Michigan Messenger

Attention Congress: Fix the Potholes (Guest Voice)

November 10, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Attention Congress: Fix the Potholes
by Tina Dupuy

It’s an odd Americanism to elect someone to be in government who freely admits they don’t like government. As if reluctance translates into competence. “Oh he’ll be a great husband, especially since he doesn’t believe in marriage.” For some reason, we buy the premise of politicians begging to be a part of the thing they are, in theory – against.

Son of an incumbent seven-term Texas Congressman, Kentucky’s Rand Paul, in his first public statement as a government-employee-elect, said, “We’ve come to take our government back.” And he’s going to do that by cashing a government paycheck…reluctantly.

A politician who is against government is like an actor who is against entertainment. It’s ridiculous. Because we hate politicians so much, the only way we can stand inking a bubble next to their name is to pretend they really don’t want to do their job.

But do Americans actually know what the government is – or what the government actually does? Failed Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle told a crowd during her campaign, “Government isn’t what our Founding Fathers put into the Constitution.” Yes, the framing document of the U.S. Government has no “government” in it.

At CPAC this year, Fox News Host Glenn Beck told his government-leery audience he learned progressivism is evil by educating himself at public libraries because “books are free.” Yes, Glenn, they are “free” because the government funds public libraries with taxes – a progressive plot.

RNC Chairman Michael Steele said last year, “You and I know that in the history of mankind and womankind, government—federal, state or local—has never created one job.” It’s a battle cry repeated by many a Republican, some now working in – yes – government jobs. Such a sound bite is often said in front of people employed by the U.S. Postal Service (the second largest employer in the country), public school teachers and the U.S. military – jobs which the government arguably and factually created.

So there are deniers of climate change, evolution, the Holocaust, 9/11, AIDS, Obama’s American citizenship, Separation of Church and State and a round Earth. People deny these things in the face of overwhelming evidence. Even though these things exist. They happened. But government deniers? Really?

For U.S. citizens, the most common interaction with the government is on the road. When you drive down the street or use the sidewalk, you are utilizing something your federal and local governments build and maintain. Yes, that’s the government messing up your car’s alignment. And along with bridges, dams, drinking water, energy, waterways, levees, public parks, rails, schools and sewage – it’s all in desperate need of repair. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave our infrastructure an average of a “D.” They also reported it would take $ 2.2 trillion over five years to bring that grade up to a “B.” The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (AKA The Stimulus) allotted $ 105.3 billion to infrastructure projects. So we’re the richest country in the world yet we’re spending only 5 percent of what we need in order for our citizens not to die from bridges collapsing and levees buckling.

This is the most basic thing the government can do: fix the potholes. Fix America. Business can’t work if we don’t have roads. Left, Right or Independent – we are all dependent on a functional sewage system and an electrical grid.

In light of this, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said his party’s top priority – top meaning above all else, is to make Obama a one-term president. So after the Bush Lost Decade of job growth and wages, a current 9.6 percent unemployment and other countries (e.g., Kazakhstan) outperforming us in basic literacy – the Republicans once again opt for myopia. Instead of enabling the country on its most fundamental level to work – the Republican plan is to throw a monkey wrench in their opponent’s presidency. Their eye is on one prize: a one-term president.

This is like firemen refusing to come to your house to put out a fire because they want the Captain to lose his job.

Here’s a message from the people “on the ground:” Knock it off – and fix the potholes.

Copyright 2010 Tina Dupuy is an award-winning writer and the editor of Her column is licensed to run on TMV in full.

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.

The Moderate Voice

Gillibrand Wishes for Less Attention to Her Looks

October 22, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

After Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called her the “hottest” member of the U.S. Senate and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said she was “stunning,” the Albany Times Union asked Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) if she feels she’s being “over-sexualized.”

Said Gillibrand: “No. You know, Harry Reid was making a joke. He also complimented my work with him on reg reform. I think the mayor was being nice. He was just being kind. So, of course women like candidates and like people, to focus on the work that they’re doing and of course we would prefer more reporting on the legislation we’re fighting for and what we’ve accomplished, but you know, at the end of the day….”

Then, the newspaper said she sighed.
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

Bill Gates Buys Attention of ABC News?

October 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

On the heels of this Summer’s Old Media attack of News Corp’s donation of $ 1 million to the GOP, we discover that billionaire Bill Gates of Microsoft fame has given $ 1.5 million directly to ABC News so that they’ll cover his personal “news” issue: health conditions of the poor.

Gates has been spreading his money around in more traditional media buys over the last year or so, too. He spent $ 3.5 million to start a TV production company that is working with PBS to report on global health issues and he’s also spent millions buying newspapers to keep them afloat. Additionally Gates has donated money to journalism schools and other media operations.

But this direct donation to ABC News is a different animal than the other media related spending that Gates has done. This is a direct donation of money to ABC News to buy their attention for Bill Gates’s personal interests. ABC is supposed to be a self contained, independent news agency that funds its own reports governed under its own authority. Gates’s donation really brings this status into question.

As to which program is targeted, ABC is using Gates’s money for its upcoming Be The Change: Save a Life series.

Now it would be different if Gates’s TV production company created its programming and then bought time on ABC to air it. There’d certainly be nothing wrong with that. But this is far different and more troubling. This situation is far different thing than, for instance, corporations donating money to programming on PBS because those are independent productions that PBS merely airs.

It would also be different if Gates just bought the whole of ABC News. There would also be nothing wrong with that. But in this case Gates is buying just a portion of ABC News and using that entity as cover for his own personal issue advocacy, using ABC’s reputation as color of authority for his own issues.

It doesn’t matter if Gates’s issue is the most unconditionally selfless issue ever. Once ABC takes this money we cannot be sure who is pulling the strings nor can we be sure that this barrier now being broken down will open ABC — or even other TV news agencies — to being bought off by any other billionaire. Other billionaires might not be as spotlessly selfless as Gates might be.

Who would be alarmed if, say, George Soros bought part of ABC’s programming for his favorite issues? For that matter, what if the left’s favorite boogie men du jour, the conservative Koch Brothers, bought a portion of ABC’s news programming for their favorite issues to be reported upon? Would anyone trust that reporting?

Another big question is: will ABC News produce these TV reports as if these reports are wholly their idea or will ABC make it clear that these programs are bought and paid for by billionaire Bill Gates?

Even more directly, in order not to upset sugar daddy Gates, will ABC now steer clear of any “reporting” that might reflect badly on Gates, his friends, and their interests if they should happen to find any connections between those people and the issues ABC is reporting on?

Just how are we to know if all the money that Gates donated to ABC has also bought editorial control over that news agency? After all, even if ABC does fully disclose that Gates supplied the funding for this programming can anyone be sure that Gates didn’t also buy the contents and editorial direction of these ABC reports?

I would suggest that donating $ 1 million to a political party is far less eyebrow raising than someone actually buying off a portion of a news agency in order to get them to report on his own personal issues. It is also unseemly that a news agency has allowed this to happen and is acting as if nothing untoward has happened here.

Big Journalism

American Crossroads welcomes presidential attention

October 8, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Washington (CNN) – An official with a political group aligned with the Republican party said the organization welcomes attacks on it by President Obama and insists they’re helping drive up contributions.

According to American Crossroads, which was founded by former presidential adviser Karl Rove and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, it has seen healthy online contributions since the president’s has called attention to it.

Obama most recently singled out the group at a campaign event Thursday night for Alexi Giannoulias, the Democrat running to fill Obama’s old senate seat.

Obama said “two groups funded and advised by Karl Rove have outspent the Democratic Party two to one in an attempt to beat Alexi – two to one. Funded and advised by Karl Rove.” He insisted “That’s not just a threat to Democrats. That’s a threat to our democracy.”

An official with the organization tells CNN, “No one tries tackling you if you don’t have the ball.”

The organization has gained attention for its successful fundraising and for running ads in key Senate battles, most notably going on the air early in the Nevada Senate race, where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is facing Tea Party-backed Republican Sharron Angle.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was discussing internal deliberations, says this year the congressional races are especially nationalized, with local issues taking a back seat to the five dominant concerns that work with Republican voters in districts across the country – taxes, debt, health care, spending and cap and trade climate change legislation.

They’re at “the top of everyone’s tick list” with some, but there’s not much variation by region, the official says.

And as for the call by Democrats to investigate the organization for possible tax violations? It is hitting back hard, releasing to the media a memo written by the group’s legal counsel. It alleges the requests for investigation are part of a “coordinated campaign by Democrats and their allies to create a hostile environment to dissuade potential donors from supporting independent conservative non-profit advocacy organizations in general, and Crossroads GPS in particular.” The letter accuses Democrats of sour grapes – hitting the group because their own third party organizations aren’t raising as much money.

“This effort is a crass ‘Plan B’ ironically motivated by the Democrats’ dismay over insufficient ‘political intervention’ activity by pro-Democrat groups and following in the wake of their inability to pass the DISCLOSE Act,” which would require more disclosure of the corporations behind some of the ads, the letter said.

While American Crossroads does have to disclose its donors, its affiliate Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (GPS) does not because it is registered as a non-profit group. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine and others are calling on the organization to make public all of its benefactors.

CNN Political Ticker

David Axelrod Should Pay More Attention to His Own Advice

September 28, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 


It struck me that the most important part of Noam Scheiber’s profile of David Axelrod came pretty close to the beginning wherein Axelrod appears to possess a strong grounding in the determinants of Presidential approval:

That Axelrod would home in on this from the outset—he told the president-elect after the meeting that his numbers would be in the toilet in twelve to 18 months and “all of us who were geniuses are going to be idiots”—is a testament to his legendary fatalism.

I wouldn’t describe that insight as primarily consisting of fatalism. Rather, it seems like Axelrod understands that the president-elect’s ratings will be driven by his success at promoting economic recovery. The issue is that in December 2008, Axelrod thought the recovery moment would come sometime between December 2009 and June 2010 whereas in fact the recession has been a good deal worse than that. But later, Axelrod seems not to grasp the significance of this point:

One of the first major political questions the White House faced after the inauguration was how to handle public outrage over bonuses at bailed-out companies. Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill offered an answer: a bill preventing any executive at a company on government life-support from making more than the president, or $ 400,000 per year. “David liked that a lot,” says a strategist close to the White House. But Obama ultimately sided with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who believed it would discourage firms from participating in programs designed to stabilize the financial system.

Now Geithner’s policy judgment may have been mistaken, but as described here we have a conflict between a political point (”people will like cracking down on high pay”) and a policy point (”we want firms in the program to promote recovery”) and the correct thing for Axelrod to recognize is that ultimately whether or not recovery is promoted will matter more politically than the political message itself.

Unfortunately, Scheiber’s article doesn’t tell us much about Axelrod’s role in other controversies related to macroeconomic policy instead moving on to health care. But in my view the political history of the Obama administration is very sharply related to the history of economic policymaking. At one point, they made an early pivot away from stimulus-rhetoric and toward austerity-rhetoric. Who was on which side there? Did anyone ever consider elevating the priority given to Fed appointments? What arguments were had about the administration’s approach to Chinese currency issues? At the end of the day, Axelrod was right the first time and if we’d spent the past 3-9 months experiencing a strong economic recovery, he’d look like a genius again today.

Matthew Yglesias

We are paying attention

September 26, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 


The Left was unable to paint the Tea Party as anarchists, violent lunatics, or racists.  The feeble attempt to suggest they should really be focusing their ire at George W. Bush or the Republican Party fizzled into embarrassed silence.  Like a clumsy kid going deep into the dinnerware department to catch a Nerf football pass […]

Read this post »

Hot Air » Top Picks

John Kerry: I wish these voters would pay more attention

September 25, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Just like old times.

Via JWF, who’s as incredulous at Kerry’s critique of mindless political sloganeering as I am. Never mind “Yes we can”; anyone remember how he and Edwards couldn’t agree on their own dopey campaign slogan, quibbling over whether it should be “Help is on the way” or “Hope is on the way”? Had things worked out […]

Read this post »

Hot Air » Top Picks

Online, “The Tragedy Is Our Attention”

September 24, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

So says the founder of Gizmodo and Engadget:

…it will be increasingly difficult to build an online content business in an environment where quantity is the primary goal. The constant urge to publish more content and drive pageviews is not doing much for the reader. “[The web] is always trying to drive more clicks,” he said. “When everyone is doing it, it becomes a zero sum game.” When ads are sold on a CPM basis that requires huge pageview numbers to make money, publishers start pushing out more and more content. “It’s sort of a tragedy of the commons where the tragedy is our attention,” he said.

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