Saturday Reads: Daily Caller Caught Red-Handed (?), GOP “Estranged from America,” and Other News

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Good Morning!!

There’s a lot of news out there this morning, so I’ll get right to it.

Well, well, well, isn’t this an interesting headline at the WaPo: Dominican official links Daily Caller to alleged lies about Menendez.

A top Dominican law enforcement official said Friday that a local lawyer has reported being paid by someone claiming to work for the conservative Web site the Daily Caller to find prostitutes who would lie and say they had sex for money with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).

The lawyer told Dominican investigators that a foreign man, who identified himself as “Carlos,” had offered him $5,000 to find and pay women in the Caribbean nation willing to make the claims about Menendez, according to Jose Antonio Polanco, district attorney for the La Romana region, where the investigation is being conducted.

The Daily Caller, owned by smirky right winger Tucker Carlson, claims it’s not true. Sure, Tucker.

The videotaped claims of two women, made with their faces obscured, were posted in the fall on the Daily Caller. The site reported that “the two women said they met Menendez around Easter at Casa de Campo, an expensive 7,000-acre resort in the Dominican Republic. . . . They claimed Menendez agreed to pay them $500 for sex acts, but in the end they each received only $100.”

In its statement Friday, the Daily Caller said: “At no point did any money change hands between The Daily Caller and any sources or individuals connected with this investigation, nor did anyone named Carlos travel to the Dominican Republic on behalf of The Daily Caller. As recently as two weeks ago, Figueroa was on record with another news outlet as saying the women he represented were telling the truth about their initial allegations against Senator Menendez.”

There’s quite a bit of wiggle room in that denial. So no one from the Daily Caller actually handed money to anyone, and “Carlos” didn’t travel from the U.S. to the Dominican. Big deal. The arrangements were probably made by phone and the money was giving out through the lawyer.

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I don’t know what happened for sure, but I know Tucker Carlson is a sleazy S.O.B. What I didn’t know until today (via Crooks and Liars) is that the Daily Caller got its start-up funds from Foster Friess, the Republican billionaire donor who recommended that women put an aspirin between their knees as contraception. C&L’s Karoli also linked to this Mother Jones article by Kate Sheppard: Controversial Daily Caller Editor Admitted to Posing As Radical Animal Rights Activist.

David Martosko—the outgoing executive editor of the conservative Daily Caller and a prominent defender of the news site’sdisputed claim that Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) paid two women for sex in the Dominican Republic—admitted in a court document obtained by Mother Jones that he used a fake Facebook profile to pose as a “dope-smoking commie” in order to gather information on animal rights activists. The admission came in a May 2011 depositionMartosko gave under oath as part of a defamation case against him and his former employer, Berman and Company, a PR shop that specializes in combating progressive activists who target corporations.

Before Daily Caller Editor in Chief Tucker Carlson hired him in 2011—a controversial choice given Martosko’s previous arrests and lack of experience in journalism—Martosko spent a decade working for Richard Berman, a longtime PR operative behind a number of industry-backed campaigns. At Berman and Company, Martosko served as the director of research for the Center for Consumer Freedom, a Berman-run nonprofit that opposes new laws on food and beverages. CCF, which is funded by the food and beverage industry, runsHumane Watch, a website that posts derogatory information about the Humane Society of the United States. Martosko was the site’s “founding editor.” CCF also operates Activist Cash, a website that compiles biographical information on groups and individuals that engage in “anti-consumer activism.”

Despite all this circumstantial evidence that the Daily Caller is a fraudulent operation, Politico posted a piece by MacKenzie Weinger supporting Carlson’s operation and implying that the WaPo is trying to defend Democrats rather than simply reporting the results of investigative reporting.

Also from the WaPo, and op-ed by Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center — The numbers prove it: The GOP is estranged from America. I actually have a lot of problems with this article–Kohut writes from the point of view of an old-style Republican, which he is. He claims that the Democratic Party has gotten more liberal, when the current Democratic President, Barack Obama has publicly state that his ideology is that of a Rockefeller-type Republican. Here’s an excerpt:

But while members of the Republican and Democratic parties have become more conservative and liberal, respectively, a bloc of doctrinaire, across-the-board conservatives has become a dominant force on the right. Indeed, their resolve and ultra-conservatism have protected Republican lawmakers from the broader voter backlash that is so apparent in opinion polls.

For decades, my colleagues and I have examined the competing forces and coalitions within the two parties. In our most recent national assessments, we found not only that the percentage of people self-identifying as Republicans had hit historic lows but that within that smaller base, the traditional divides between pro-business economic conservatives and social conservatives had narrowed. There was less diversity of values within the GOP than at any time in the past quarter-century.

The party’s base is increasingly dominated by a highly energized bloc of voters with extremely conservative positions on nearly all issues: the size and role of government, foreign policy, social issues, and moral concerns. They stand with the tea party on taxes and spending and with Christian conservatives on key social questions, such as abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

These staunch conservatives, who emerged with great force in the Obama era, represent 45 percent of the Republican base. According to our 2011 survey, they are demographically and politically distinct from the national electorate. Ninety-two percent are white. They tend to be male, married, Protestant, well off and at least 50 years old.

From The Hill, last night Bernie Sanders and a few friends introduced an amendment to the Senate budget opposing the use of Chained CPI to cut Social Security and veterans’ benefits and managed to get a voice vote.

The vote on the amendment was by voice vote, so its usefulness in quantifying Senate opposition to the proposal is minimal. The amendment is non-binding because it is attached to the budget resolution, which does not have the force of law.
Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) sponsored the amendment.

Nevertheless,

The powerful seniors lobbying group AARP hailed the vote.

“With the adoption of Senator Sanders’ amendment, the Senate makes clear the need to protect retirees, veterans and others from an unwarranted cut to their benefits. Much more than a mere technical adjustment or a ‘tweak,’ the chained CPI would, over the next ten years, take a combined $146 billion out of the pockets of America’s veterans and seniors who are already living on tight budgets,” it said in a statement.

At the LA Times, two political science professors published an op-ed headlined: The 1% aren’t like the rest of us.

Over the last two years, President Obama and Congress have put the country on track to reduce projected federal budget deficits by nearly $4 trillion. Yet when that process began, in early 2011, only about 12% of Americans in Gallup polls cited federal debt as the nation’s most important problem. Two to three times as many cited unemployment and jobs as the biggest challenge facing the country.

So why did policymakers focus so intently on the deficit issue? One reason may be that the small minority that saw the deficit as the nation’s priority had more clout than the majority that didn’t.

We recently conducted a survey of top wealth-holders (with an average net worth of $14 million) in the Chicago area, one of the first studies to systematically examine the political attitudes of wealthy Americans. Our research found that the biggest concern of this top 1% of wealth-holders was curbing budget deficits and government spending. When surveyed, they ranked those things as priorities three times as often as they did unemployment — and far more often than any other issue.

If the concerns of the wealthy carry special weight in government — as an increasing body of social scientific evidence suggests — such extreme differences between their views and those of other Americans could significantly skew policy away from what a majority of the country would prefer.

The results of the study aren’t particularly surprising–at least to those of us who are paying attention, but it’s nice to see this published in the corporate media. Page is a professor at Northeastern and the author of “Class War? What Americans Really Think About Economic Inequality.” Bartels is at Vanderbilt and the author of “Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age.”

This is a refreshing story from HuffPo: North Dakota Republican Pols To Protest Anti-Abortion Laws: ‘We Have Stepped Over The Line’

A group of GOP state lawmakers in North Dakota will protest new abortion restrictions on Monday at a Stand Up for Women rally in Bismarck, N.D., because they believe their fellow Republicans have gone too far.

“It’s to say, hey, this isn’t okay. We have stepped over the line,” said state Rep. Kathy Hawken (R-Fargo) in a phone interview with The Huffington Post. “One of the key tenets of the Republican Party is personal responsibility. I’m personally pro-life, but I vote pro-choice, because you can’t make that decision for anyone else. You just can’t.”

North Dakota recently passed the most restrictive abortion ban in the nation, which prohibits abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, and a bill preventing pregnant women from choosing abortion based on a fetal anomaly or genetic disorder. The state also has a “trigger ban,” which would prohibit abortion entirely if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned.

Lawmakers are currently considering two “fetal personhood” measures that would effectively ban abortion in the state and complicate the legality of birth control, stem cell research and in vitro fertilization. Hawken said the personhood bills are so extreme that she and approximately 10 of her Republican colleagues in the state legislature — both men and women — were inspired to speak out in defense of women’s rights.

The Denver Post reports that they have evidence of a connection between the murder of Colorado prison chief Tom Clements and shootings in Texas.

DECATUR, Texas — Detectives investigating a parolee who led them on a wild chase and shootout recovered Hornady 9mm bullet casings — the same brand and caliber as those used by the gunman who killed Colorado prisons chief Tom Clements.

Texas Ranger Anthony Bradford described the casings in an application to search Evan Ebel’s 1991 Cadillac DeVille.
In addition, the suspect in the Sunday slaying of pizza-delivery driver Nathan Leon was “reportedly driving a black 1991 passenger vehicle,” Bradford noted in the application, obtained Friday by The Denver Post.

“During the investigation at the crime scene in Wise County, (Bradford) noted a Domino’s Pizza carrier in the open trunk of the suspected vehicle and either a Domino’s Pizza shirt or jacket in close proximity to the pizza carrier,” the application read.

There were numerous reports of a meteor in the skies over the East Coast last night. USA Today has video, and The New York Daily News has photos. USA Today reported:

USA TODAY – A possible meteor has been spotted streaking through the sky over the East Coast, The American Meteor Society and Twitter users are reporting.

“It basically looked like a super bright shooting star,” said Robert Lunsford, fireball coordinator for the society, based on the reports coming in to the organization’s website. “I saw some people mentioning fragments and naturally every color of the rainbow.”

The society, based in Geneseo, N.Y., was researching about 400 reports received as of about 10 p.m. ET Friday from nine East Coast States and Canada of sightings that took place somewhere shortly before 8 p.m. ET through shortly after 8 p.m. ET, Lunsford said. The number of reports marked a possible record over the number of reports the group received about a fireball that streaked over Baltimore on Halloween several years ago, Lunsford said.

Late Friday, Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environmental Office said the flash appears to be “a single meteor event.” He said it “looks to be a fireball that moved roughly toward the southeast, going on visual reports.”

“Judging from the brightness, we’re dealing with something as bright as the full moon,” Cooke said. “The thing is probably a yard across. We basically have (had) a boulder enter the atmosphere over the northeast.”

So…… What else is happening? Please post your links in the comments. I look forward to clicking on them!

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28 Comments on “Saturday Reads: Daily Caller Caught Red-Handed (?), GOP “Estranged from America,” and Other News”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    The Guardian: Senate narrowly passes first budget in four years in pre-dawn vote

    The budget plan was passed by a 50-49 vote in the Democratic-controlled chamber. Four Democratic senators facing tough re-election campaigns in 2014 joined all the Senate Republicans in opposing the measure, which seeks to raise nearly $1tn in new tax revenues by closing some tax breaks for the wealthy.

    The Senate budget, which reflects Democratic priorities of boosting near-term job growth and preserving social safety net programs, will square off in coming months against a Republican-focused budget passed by the Republican-dominated House of Representatives.

    Neither of the non-binding blueprints has a chance of passage in the opposing chamber, leaving Congress no closer to resolving deep differences over how to shrink US deficits and grow the economy. But they give each party a platform from which to tout their respective fiscal visions.

    The Democrats’ plan, from Senate Budget Committee chairman Patty Murray, aims to reduce deficits by $1.85tn over 10 years through an equal mix of tax increases and spending cuts. The Republican plan, from House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, seeks $4.6tn in savings over the same period without raising new taxes. It aims to reach a small surplus by 2023 through deep cuts to health care and social programs that aid the poor.

    The story says that Patty Murphy is going to “try to work with Ryan on a path toward compromise.”

    Bwwwwwwwwwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahaha!

    Good luck with that.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    The latest on Cyprus: they’ve reversed course and will vote on a bank levy of accounts over €100,000.

    Bloomberg: Cyprus Aims to Meet Bailout Terms Today as Deposit Levy Debated

    Financial Times: Cyprus MPs vote for financial sector restructuring

  3. RalphB says:

    Ron Brownstein says Rick Perry’s decision not to expand Medicaid (unlike other GOP governors) could be what ultimately hands Texas to the Democrats.

  4. RalphB says:

    Jeb Bush to return $270,000 paid by fraudster Osorio

    Ah ethics, would be nice if they had some.

  5. RalphB says:

    How Foreign Governments Make Sure You Don’t Know They’re Lobbying You

    “Unlike the Washington firms hired directly by foreign governments, Ukraine’s leadership has slipped its American agenda through an increasingly popular loophole in the federal law intended to regulate foreign activity in the United States, allowing it to follow the minimal disclosure practices required of domestic corporate lobbies, not the extensive ones demanded of registered foreign agents. It’s a loophole now used by a range of post-communist governments, in particular, with money to burn and no particular love of transparency. And it offers a path to the end of a disclosure regime put in place in 1938, amid American concern over the effects of Nazi propaganda.”

  6. RalphB says:

    Why 91% of people can support enhanced background checks for firearms purchases and it doesn’t seem to matter…

    WHEN ONE TRIBE GOES TO WAR, THERE’S NO WAY THAT YOU CAN SCORE

    There are the twin problems that allow Republicans to get away with obstructionism on issues on which their positions have laughably little support: the people in the crazy GOP base are actively, incessantly focused on seeing to it that their specific policy provisions prevail, and most of America isn’t; and they really care about victory for their tribe, whereas most of the rest of us, even a hell of a lot of people who regard themselves as more or less liberal, will shrug and vote for Chris Christie or Rudy Giuliani or Susan Collins if these folks toss us a moderate bone or two, or keep Scott Walker in office because using a recall election to dump a guy who’s kicking labor in the teeth with custom-made steel-toed Koch boots just isn’t nice.

    If as many liberals (and, hell, even moderates) were as politicized and focused as conservatives are, we’d respond to this obstructionism by pushing back — hard. But we’re not at DefCon 1. They are.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Kill the groundhog? Prosecutor demands death for faulty forecast

    Meteorologists take heed. The punishment for inaccurately predicting the weather in Ohio is now death, at least according to one prosecutor.

    Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser was apparently so enraged by this year’s lengthy winter that he issued an indictment against Punxsutawney Phil, the famous groundhog who just a few months ago dared to predict an early spring.

    The tongue-in cheek indictment, which was posted online by the Washington Post, said Phil “purposely, and with prior calculation and design, caused the people to believe that Spring would come early.” The crimes at issue, he said, were “MISREPRESENTATION OF EARLY SPRING, an Unclassified Felony, and against the peace and dignity of the State of Ohio.” [....]

    One Pennsylvania-based law firm didn’t take kindly to the slight against a fellow Keystone State resident. Todd Nurick and Brian Andris, attorneys with the Nurick Law Group, issued a cease-and-desist order in response to the indictment, indicating that they somehow managed to secure a response from the elusive Phil.

    • RalphB says:

      Leave Phil Aloooonnnneee! It’s been an early and warmer than usual spring down here. :-)

      • bostonboomer says:

        I don’t think this winter has been that bad, but I guess Ohio has been hit pretty hard.

    • janicen says:

      Bring the charges in Virginia. We execute quickly! I think I can even get a state license plate that says that!

  8. That op/ed in the LA Times is also interesting, given that the Koch Brothers are working to buy the LA Times…

  9. bostonboomer says:

    Ed Miliband says government has no ideas left on economy: Labour leader says David Cameron and his ministers have resigned themselves to a ‘lost decade’ for Britain

  10. bostonboomer says:

    The New Republic fired writer Timothy Noah yesterday without any warning or explanation. I wonder if the new publisher (Chris Hughes, Facebook co-founder) wants to take the magazine back to it’s previous neo-liberal slant?

    • bostonboomer says:

      “All I got was your column isn’t a good fit for the direction the magazine is going in,” Noah told The Huffington Post shortly after.

      For years I subscribed to TNR when it was still a liberal magazine. I cancelled after they started publishing writers like Fred Barnes.

      • bostonboomer says:

        This is interesting. Steven Brill’s article on health care was going to be published in TNR, but Chris Hughes intervened to replace it with Obama interview. Time Magazine picked up Brill’s piece.

        Steven Brill is picking a fight with a former suitor. The article, the single longest one-author piece in the magazine’s history, was originally slated to lead the debut issue of the redesigned New Republic, but was booted when TNR landed a sitdown with Barack Obama. Today Brill told the Huffington Post that young TNR owner and editor-in-chief Chris Hughes is “just a liar” for how he handled the situation, making a few valid (and colorful!) points along the way, but ultimately missing the larger one: An exclusive interview with the president, for a publication desperate for attention and new eyeballs, trumps everything.

        While Brill’s story was pushed off the cover for the presidential Q&A, he made sure to note that he didn’t like what they were planning for his anyway, telling HuffPo that the TNR cover art was “ridiculous”: “He said it featured an underwear-clad young man strapped to a desk chair with ‘duct tape wrapped around him and IV tubes coming out of him.’ … ‘It was something you would do if you were really drunk and ran the college newspaper.'” (Hughes is 29.)

      • Fredster says:

        For years I subscribed to TNR when it was still a liberal magazine

        Me too. It changed too much for my taste.

  11. Fredster says:

    I loved reading this:

    http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/03/attorney_general_investigating.html#incart_river_default

    Now that’s the state A.G. and a federal grand jury looking into this Bobby boy is going down!!! (at least I hope so)