Wednesday Reads: Koch, Rep. King and the Democratic Divide

Good Morning!

Feeling a bit anxious today, I don’t know but something tells me this hormone patch isn’t working out so well. I think the hot flashes are way more bearable. So if I am a bit touchy you know why…

That said, let’s get on with the show!

First, I want to update you on Syria, yes…the killings are still going on. The newest fear is that Lebanon will become part of the battlefield. Syrian kidnapping of Lebanese pilgrims raises fears conflict will cross border

Syrian rebels kidnapped 11 Lebanese Shias and their Syrian driver in northern Syria on Tuesday, adding to fears that Lebanon is being drawn into the chaos next door, Syria’s state-run Sana news agency reported last night.

The victims were on their way home from a religious pilgrimage in Iran when rebels intercepted their vehicles in Syria’s Aleppo province. Women travelling in the group were released.

As the news of the kidnappings spread, residents of the southern suburbs of Beirut, a Shiite area, took to the streets and burned tyres and blocked roads in protest. The leader of Hezbollah, a strong ally of the Syrian regime, appealed for calm and warned his followers against revenge attacks targeting Syrians.

Then, there is this:  Syria massacre survivor tells of killing of army defectors at Jebel al-Zawiya

Mohammed Rahman Sohail

Mohammed Rahman Sohail, an officer in the Free Syrian Army, says he believes he is the sole survivor of the Jebel al-Zawiya massacre in which 83 men were killed.
With all the election crap going on, a lot of the world news is being pushed aside, and it is only the middle of May…what will September be like!
Sticking with some world news, there is also escalating violence in Yemen:
Dozens Killed by Bomb in Yemen, Raising Al Qaeda Fears –  There is a disturbing image at this link of body parts and blood strewn across the pavement.
A huge suicide bombing in the heart of Yemen’s capital Monday left more than 100 people dead and hundreds wounded, stunning the country’s beleaguered government and delivering a stark setback to the American counterterrorism campaign against Al Qaeda’s regional franchise, which has repeatedly tried to plant bombs on United States-bound jetliners.
[…]
The militant group, which goes by the name Ansar al Shariah, said in a Facebook post that the attack was aimed at Yemen’s defense minister and was intended to retaliate for the government campaign against Al Qaeda’s southern sanctuaries that began this month. The militants appear to be holding out and inflicting heavy losses on Yemen’s weak and divided army, despite a stepped-up United States campaign of drone strikes and military assistance.
Yemen on brink of food crisis, say aid groups–  This is a new warning and it comes a day before the Friends of Yemen group meets in Saudi Arabia.

Instability in Yemen has left the country facing a hunger catastrophe, with nearly half of people without enough food, aid groups have warned.

In a joint warning, a group of seven charities said 10 million Yemenis – 44% of the population – are undernourished, with 5 million requiring emergency aid.

Yemen has been shaken by pro-democracy protests, communal unrest in the north, and an Islamist conflict in the south.

I am going to move over to the US now, I have several links on the political front. We have had previous posts on all this stuff, lots of them…Boston Boomer has kept up to date on all of Romney’s faults…and Dakinikat has done the same with the economy and finance side of things.
Members Of New GOP Women’s Caucus Voted Against Equality For Women–  What is wrong with these women, I can surely bet that “special place in hell” will be packed to the rafters.
The 24 Republican Congresswomen in the U.S. House announcedyesterday that they have joined to form the Women’s Policy Committee, a caucus aimed at “raising the profile of GOP women in their roles as lawmakers, highlighting their diverse achievements and providing a unique, unified voice on a wide range of critically important issues.”But a ThinkProgress review of their voting records shows that the two dozen women have been fairly consistent in their legislative opposition to women’s rights:

  • Violence Against Women: Of the 24 women, 22 voted to rollback the Violence Against Women Act, backing a version of the bill that could violate the confidentiality of victims and that excluded protections for immigrants, LGBT people, and Native Americans.
  • Access to contraception: 21 of the 24 co-sponsored the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act” to take away regulations enacted under Obamacare requiring most employers to cover birth control in their health insurance plans, without additional cost-sharing.
  • Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act: Of the 15 Republican Congresswomen who were in the House at the time, all 15 voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, a law that helps women hold accountable employers who discriminate in the pay practices based on gender.
  • Paycheck Fairness Act Act: 13 of those 15 also voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would update the 1963 Equal Pay Act by closing many of its loopholes and strengthening incentives to prevent pay discrimination.
  • Reproductive health: According to Planned Parenthood, 20 of the 24 GOP women earned a zero score, voting against reproductive health at every opportunity. The average score for the women was under 6 percent.
But women, don’t feel like you are the only ones getting beaten down in the Republican Game. Of course, immigrants are part of the festivities too. Rep. Steve King: Immigrants are like dogs

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, compared immigrants to dogs at a town hall meeting yesterday, telling constituents that the U.S. should pick only the best immigrants the way one chooses the “pick of the litter.”

King told the crowd in Pocahontas, Iowa, that he’s owned lots of bird dogs over the years and advised, “You want a good bird dog? You want one that’s going to be aggressive? Pick the one that’s the friskiest … not the one that’s over there sleeping in the corner.”

King suggested lazy immigrants should be avoided as well. “You get the pick of the litter and you got yourself a pretty good bird dog. Well, we’ve got the pick of every donor civilization on the planet,” King said. “We’ve got the vigor from the planet to come to America.” The liberal research group American Bridge captured the comments:

Video at the link. It makes me wonder… If Women=Livestock and Immigrants=Dogs, than what do Filthy Rich White GOP Men equal?

Charles and David Koch, the billionaire owners of of Koch Industries, are known as big spenders when it comes to lobbying and influencing public policy. Now, a new document filed with the IRS reveals how the Koch political machine funneled over $54.5 million in previously undisclosed funds to a litany of front groups designed to smear Democrats.

The disclosure suggests that a very wide variety of Republican groups active in the last major election, from pro-life organizations that ran ads on abortion to shadowy fronts that aired partisan commercials with the infamous Ground Zero Mosque conspiracy, have been highly dependent on Koch money. The document also reveals that the Koch’s political network spent much more on electing the current Congress than previously known.

Please read the entire article, this next paragraph should come as no surprise to you…
Sean Noble, a Republican consultant, was hired to help administer the Koch war chest. According to Politico, Noble was part of a group of GOP operatives who met regularly with Karl Rove’s superPAC to target 120 House of Representatives races in 2010. The close coordination was pivotal in helping the Republican Party capture 63 seats in one of the biggest midterm election landslides in modern history.
Which brings me to a series of articles on the Democrats, the press and the members of the post-election politician club.
Think of the next three links like a sandwich…the first and third links are like the rye bread with those seeds that get stuck in-between your teeth and annoy the hell out of you… and the second link is the pastrami, you know it is bad for your health, but you eat it anyway because well…you’ve been eating it on rye your whole entire life, what else are you gonna do?
Oh, and BTW, if you missed Dr. Dakinikat’s post yesterday, go read it now…think of it as the appetizer, before that pastrami on rye.
Okay, for that top slice of bread, you know…the one that keeps sliding off when you put the sandwich down to take a bite of the pickle spear on the side. The Emerging Democratic Divide –

Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker’s off-message criticism of the Obama campaign’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s background at Bain Capital gave the campaign an untimely, unwanted headache this week. But more significantly, it exposed a tension that’s developing between the Democratic Party’s centrist wing and its more-outspoken liberal base—one that threatens to fester more openly if President Obama fails to win a second term.

Conversations with liberal activists and labor officials reveal an unmistakable hostility toward the pro-business, free-trade, free-market philosophy that was in vogue during the second half of the Clinton administration. Former White House Chief of Staff William Daley, who tried to steer the Obama administration in a more centrist direction, is the subject of particular derision. Discussion of entitlement reforms, at the heart of the GOP governing agenda, is a nonstarter. The fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats are now nearly extinct on Capitol Hill.

“Centrist Direction,” I’ve said many times before that Obama has always seemed like right of center to me. I am so sick of the “centrist” label.  In fact some of these Democrats sound more like Republicans from several decades back.
“There are not a lot of moderates left in the Democratic Party, and Cory is one of the few of them left,” said former Democratic Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama, an early Obama ally who has become increasingly estranged from the party. “I would like to think Cory speaks for a lot of voters in the Democratic Party, but sadly he doesn’t speak for a lot of Democratic operatives within the party. This isn’t Bill Clinton’s Democratic Party anymore.”
[…]

But Booker’s comments reflect an uncomfortable ideological divide within the elite elements of the Democratic coalition. As I wrote last month, wealthy voters made up a pivotal part of Obama’s winning coalition in 2008—not to mention contributing a good chunk of his campaign cash that cycle. But as Obama’s rhetoric has turned populist to capitalize on Romney’s biographical vulnerabilities, he has alienated some of those voters. Booker isn’t the only high-profile Democrat with Wall Street connections raising questions about the Obama campaign’s populist appeals. It follows similar criticisms from Obama auto adviser Steven Rattner, former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. of Tennessee, and JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, a past Obama donor and supporter. Meanwhile, Wall Street money has dried up, playing a role in the president’s less-than-imposing fundraising totals for the year.

Over the past generation, losing Democratic presidential campaigns have sparked soul-searching within the party. After Walter Mondale’s landslide defeat in 1984, centrist Democrats formed institutions, like the Democratic Leadership Council, to counter the influence of the old, liberal guard. The DLC later provided the governing fuel for Clinton’s presidency. A decade later, when John Kerry lost to George W. Bush, it sparked the rise of the liberal netroots, which played a key role in the Democratic takeover of Congress two years later. The party’s activist base currently is firmly in charge, but that could change quickly if things turn south.

With Obama at the helm of the party and broadly popular among Democratic voters, there’s little incentive for Democratic critics to openly take on a sitting president. The harsh reaction to Booker’s mild apostasy on Meet the Press, and his subsequent walk-backs, was proof positive of that. But if Obama loses to Romney after embracing a message advocated by the party’s liberal wing, don’t be surprised if the knives come out in force after the election.

Where’s the Beef? That salted cured beef?  Bill Clinton’s $80 Million Payday, or Why Politicians Don’t Care That Much About Reelection « naked capitalism

“There was a kind of inflection point during the five-year period between 1997 and 2003 — the late Clinton and/or early Bush administration — when all the rules just went away. You went from a period, a regime, where people did have at least some concern about going to jail, to a point where everything is legal, and derivatives couldn’t be regulated at all and nobody went to jail for anything. And looking back I would say that this period definitely started under Clinton. You absolutely cannot blame this on George W. Bush.” – Charles Ferguson of Inside Job

“I never had any money until I got out of the White House, you know, but I’ve done reasonably well since then.” Bill Clinton

On December 21, 2000, as President, Bill Clinton signed a bill known as the Commodities Futures Modernization Act. This law ensured that derivatives could not be regulated, setting the stage for the financial crisis.  Just two months later, on February 5, 2001, Clinton received  $125,000 from Morgan Stanley, in the form of a payment for a speech Clinton gave for the company in New York City.  A few weeks later, Credit Suisse also hired Clinton for a speech, at a $125,000 speaking fee, also in New York.  It turns out, Bill Clinton could make a lot of money, for not very much work.

I look forward to the comments about this article…

Today, Clinton is worth something on the order of $80 million (probably much more, but we don’t really know), and these speeches have become a lucrative and consistent revenue stream for his family. Clinton spends his time offering policy advice, writing books, stumping for political candidates, and running a global foundation.  He’s now a vegan. He makes money from books. But the speaking fee money stream keeps coming in, year after year, in larger and larger amounts.

Most activists and political operatives are under a delusion about American politics, which goes as follows.  Politicians will do *anything* to get reelected, and they will pander, beg, borrow, lie, cheat and steal, just to stay in office.  It’s all about their job.

This is 100% wrong.  The dirty secret of American politics is that, for most politicians, getting elected is just not that important.  What matters is post-election employment.  It’s all about staying in the elite political class, which means being respected in a dense network of corporate-funded think tanks, high-powered law firms, banks, defense contractors, prestigious universities, and corporations.  If you run a campaign based on populist themes, that’s a threat to your post-election employment prospects.  This is why rising Democratic star and Newark Mayor Corey Booker reacted so strongly against criticism of private equity – he’s looking out for a potential client after his political career is over, or perhaps, during interludes between offices.

Read the rest and let’s discuss it below…
And here is that slice of rye, the one on the bottom, that always tends to be on the soggy side.  DISSENTING JUSTICE: IN DEFENSE OF CORY BOOKER: Why Think Progress Is Unfair and Unbalanced
Liberal blogs have fallen in line to excoriate Newark Mayor Cory Booker for describing President Obama’s campaign attacks against Bain and Company as “nauseating.” Although Booker has tried to walk back his commentary, he still faces a lot of criticism, especially since rightwingers have used his comments as a weapon against the president’s campaign strategy.
For several reasons, I strongly support Cory Booker, and I condemn progressives who criticize him for his remarks. And as I explain below, I am especially troubled by a Think Progress article that seeks to raise questions about Booker by exposing campaign donations he received from Bain executives and other financial industry employees. Here is why I support Booker and disagree with Think Progress.
And that is all the world news and political stuff I have for you this morning.
This last link is just a cool bit of health news:  Skin cells turned into healthy heart muscle cells

Scientist say they have managed to turn patients’ own skin cells into healthy heart muscle in the lab.

Ultimately they hope this stem cell therapy could be used to treat heart failure patients.

As the transplanted cells are from the individual patient this could avoid the problem of tissue rejection, they told the European Heart Journal.

So what are you all reading about today?