Corporate PACs shift to the right In the first quarter of 2010, corporate political action committees gave more money to Republicans than Democrats, an indication they are betting the GOP may win big in November.
Use our tool to track how corporate donations to Democrats and Repbulicans have shifted over time, by industry.
By T.W. Farnam and Carol D. LeonnigWashington Post Staff Writer Saturday, May 22, 2010 Corporate America is gambling on the minority in its political giving this year, assuming that Republicans will win big in the November midterm elections, an analysis of campaign finance reports shows. This Story PACs betting on GOP takeover Interactive: Corporate PACs shift to the right Corporate PACs shift to the right The pattern represents a distinct change from a year ago, when President Obama was sworn into office. Back then, corporate political action committees made a shift to the Democrats, giving 58 percent of their donations to the party. So far this year, 48 percent of the contributions from big business are going to the Democrats. The shift in political giving represents a calculated gamble by lobbyists and executives overseeing corporate largesse that the Republican Party may regain control of Congress, say GOP fundraisers and political consultants. Many other political winds have shifted behind Republicans in recent months, but the swing in money from corporate PACs is unusual. Corporations often give campaign contributions while seeking access and favor with incumbent lawmakers in position to shape legislation -- meaning they gravitate to the party in power. LinkHere
As simple as it may seem, the law prevents the government from just taking over, Allen said. After the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, Congress dictated that oil companies be responsible for dealing with major accidents – including paying for all cleanup – with oversight by federal agencies
ROBERT, La. — Anger grew along the Gulf Coast as an ooze of oil washed into delicate coastal wetlands in Louisiana, with many wondering how to clean up the monthlong mess – especially now that BP's latest try to plug the blown-out well won't happen until at least Tuesday. "It's difficult to clean up when you haven't stopped the source," said Chris Roberts, a councilman for Jefferson Parish, which stretches from the New Orleans metropolitan area to the coast. "You can scrape it off the beach but it's coming right back." Roberts surveyed the oil that forced officials to close a public beach on Grand Isle, south of New Orleans, as globs of crude that resembled melted chocolate washed up. Others questioned why BP PLC was still in charge of the response. "The government should have stepped in and not just taken BP's word," declared Wayne Stone of Marathon, Fla., an avid diver who worries about the spill's effect on the ecosystem. The government is overseeing the cleanup and response, but the official responsible for the oversight said he understands the discontent. "If anybody is frustrated with this response, I would tell them their symptoms are normal, because I'm frustrated, too," said Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen. "Nobody likes to have a feeling that you can't do something about a very big problem." As simple as it may seem, the law prevents the government from just taking over, Allen said. After the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, Congress dictated that oil companies be responsible for dealing with major accidents – including paying for all cleanup – with oversight by federal agencies. BP, which is in charge of the cleanup, said it will be at least Tuesday before engineers can shoot mud into the blown-out well at the bottom of the Gulf, yet another delay in the effort to stop the oil. A so-called "top kill" has been tried on land but never 5,000 feet underwater, so scientists and engineers have spent the past week preparing and taking measurements to make sure it will stop the oil that has been spewing into the sea for a month. They originally hoped to try it as early as this weekend. LinkHere
After failing yesterday to get the 60 votes they needed to bring debate on a historic financial reform bill to a close, Senate Democrats succeeded in this afternoon's cloture vote. The final vote today was 60-40 (yesterday it was 57-42). Next up is a final vote on passage, which is expected to take place within days. After today's vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said there are "a couple of amendments that are germane post-cloture, but they're the ones that we have to figure out a way to get resolved." "We're going to try to work through this," Reid said, adding that there may be more votes this afternoon. "Best of all worlds, we'd finish this thing and move onto other issues," Reid said. "We're gonna try to do that." Two Democrats -- Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) -- still voted no today, but this time around, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) joined Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Susan Collins (R-ME) in supporting cloture. Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), who was absent for yesterday's vote, also voted in favor of cloture. Reid also changed his vote from "no" to "yes" -- though yesterday's "no" vote was merely a procedural necessity that allowed him to bring up the motion again.
After learning that Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) had an affair with a staffer, two House Republican leaders felt compelled to inform the ethics committee of the matter. Why? Taking that step appears to be part of a new M.O. when leadership hears about an allegation of misconduct: tell the ethics committee quickly to inoculate yourself and your party against accusations of inaction later on. "That's the new standard: the leadership ratting out its members where there's an allegation of misconduct," Stan Brand, a former House general counsel, tells TPMmuckraker. And while Souder's affair with a staffer is not on its face a violation of House rules, leadership would want to hedge in case there's more to the story (say, sexual harassment or improper use of taxpayer money), or even against the appearance of condoning bad behavior.
Cannes hears call for war criminals Bush, Blair to face trial
Source: Raw Story/Agence France-Presse
Cannes hears call for war criminals Bush, Blair to face trial
CIA spy infiltrates Cannes red carpet
CANNES, France — Director Ken Loach, in Cannes with his Iraq war film, called Thursday for the "war criminals" George W. Bush and Tony Blair to be tried for launching the invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.
"We have to keep pursuing Blair, Bush and the others until we have them in the dock," he said as he arrived for a red carpet premiere of his film "Route Irish" which is in the running for the festival's Palme d'Or top prize.
"It's certainly true that the people who started the war, who are war criminals, have not been called to account," said Loach, whose new work probes the murky world of private security contractors in Iraq.
Britain's former prime minister Blair was George W. Bush's staunchest supporter when the then US president launched the Iraq invasion in 2003. LinkHere
OMG, I do love a good Rethuglican implosion!!!!!! Carry on guys and gals.
Source: Idaho Reporter Sarah Palin’s presence at an event can draw thousands out to see her speak and evoke emotional responses from those who either love or detest her. It appears her presence will become a divisive force in Idaho politics when she comes Friday to the Qwest Arena to stump for Vaughn Ward, a Marine reservist vying with state Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, for the GOP nomination to take on Democratic incumbent Walt Minnick in Idaho’s 1st Congressional District. There will be protesters out to oppose her visit, but the group won’t be made up of anti-Palin Democrats; it will consist of anti-Palin Republicans angry over her involvement in local politics and her recent political endorsements. The group is being organized by Lucas Baumbach, a Republican candidate for the Idaho State Senate in District 17.
For Baumbach, an ardent Labrador supporter, the visit isn’t so much about Palin’s support of Ward, it’s about her becoming involved in Idaho politics. “I am disgusted by her interference in local elections,” said Baumbach in an e-mail to IdahoReporter.com. “It’s abusing her star power to favor Ward over a man she hasn’t met.”
Palin’s endorsement of Ward isn’t the only announcement of support that has Baumbauch up in arms. Baumbach said that Palin is pandering to Tea Party crowds, typically more conservative than other groups, while supporting Arizona Sen. John McCain in his re-election bid, a man many conservatives believe is too moderate. Palin was brought to national prominence when McCain chose her as his running mate in the 2008 presidential election. He also takes issue with Palin’s support of Carly Fiorina, who served as a McCain advisor during his 2008 run at the White House, over Chuck Devore in the race for one of California’s U.S. Senate seats. DeVore has received endorsements from several national right-wing figures, including Mark Levin, a nationally-syndicated talk radio host, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., regarded as one of the most conservative members of the U.S. Senate, and the Tea Party Express, a national Tea Party organization.
Baumbach believes Palin has become corrupted by national politics and is paying back political favors by endorsing those associated with McCain. “Why doesn’t she endorse the real conservatives,” he said. “Conservative voters and the Tea Party favor Devore and Labrador! It’s a classic insider-versus-conservative-base struggle.” Ward served as McCain’s Nevada state campaign director in 2008. The anti-Palin protest won’t solely consist of Labrador supporters, according to Baumbach, who ran unsuccessfully for Boise City Council in 2009. He believes that many will be protestors will be like him; former Palin supporters who have flipped on her because of the recent endorsements. “I was a huge fan, because I believe in people who profess their faith. She’s a good example of why we need to focus on God not man,” Baumbach. He said that the group could number in the hundreds and will feature some “high-level Republican officials” flying in from north Idaho to attend, though he didn’t give names. LinkHere
Senator Demands Info From Transocean On 'I'm Not Injured' Forms Signed By Workers
-WA) A Democratic senator is demanding answers from drilling giant Transocean about the forms that rescued workers from the Deepwater Horizon rig were given to sign stating that they were not injured and they were not witnesses to what happened. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chair of the Senate Health Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee, fired off a letter to Transocean CEO Steven Newman calling the company's use of the forms "extremely troublesome." Read more »
Clyburn: I'm 'Absolutely Appalled' By Paul's Civil Rights Act Criticism And Country Club Party
Source: Talking Points Memo
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) appeared on MSNBC this afternoon and really laid into Kentucky Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul over his criticism of the Civil Rights Act -- and the fact that Paul held his victory party Tuesday at a country club.
"I was absolutely appalled," Clyburn said.
"I could not believe that he was holding his victory party in a private members-only club where the vast majority of the people who just finished voting for him would not even be welcome," Clyburn said. "I couldn't believe that."
He ought to come clean with the American people and let us know exactly what it is he wants to do if he's elected to the United States Senate. He made himself the face, the spokesperson for the Tea Party movement at his victory party. LinkHere
FLASHBACK: Paul Campaign Spokesman Resigned Over Racism On Myspace Page
Controversy is swirling over Rand Paul's doctrinaire libertarian take on the civil rights legislation of the 1960s. But this is not the first time the Kentucky Republican's campaign has hit a bump in racially sensitive territory. In December, Chris Hightower, the spokesman for Paul's senate campaign, was forced to resign after a liberal Kentucky blog discovered that his MySpace page had a comment posted around Martin Luther King Day that read: "HAPPY N***ER DAY!!!" above what appears to be a historical photo of the lynching of a black man. The photo and comment appeared to have been posted to Hightower's MySpace page by a friend, not by Hightower himself. The comment has since been removed but at the time it was discovered by the local blog it had been up for nearly two years. According to the Barefoot and Progressive blog, Hightower, who was also the frontman of a local Megadeth-style metal band called Commander, wrote a MySpace post referring to "Afro-Americans" titled "Blacks don't like my Napalm Death hoodie": LinkHere
The DNC also releaseda web ad midday on Thursday, hammering away at the Tea Party favorite.
Obama signs press freedom law with Daniel Pearl's family
By Eric Zimmermann - 05/17/10 12:05 PM ET Flanked by the family of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, President Barack Obama signed legislation this morning in memory of the Wall Street Journal scribe. The Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act will require the State Department to establish a list of countries lacking basic journalistic freedoms. "The loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world's imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is, and it reminded us that there are those who would go to any length in order to silence journalists around the world," Obama said. Standing at Obama's side in the Oval Office during the signing were Pearl's widow Mariane, his parents, two sisters, and 7-year-old son. Pearl was abducted and executed by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002. LinkHere
By JIM FITZGERALD, Associated Press Writer Jim Fitzgerald, Associated Press Writer – 2 hrs 46 mins ago WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Former New York City police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who was proclaimed a hero after the 2001 World Trade Center attacks, reported to federal prison Monday to begin a four-year sentence for tax fraud, lying to the White House and other felonies. He went behind bars as inmate No. 84888-054 at the Cumberland Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Md., said Felicia Ponce, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Prisons. She said Kerik, 54, reported at about 1:45 p.m., 15 minutes ahead of his deadline. Before showing up at the prison, the feisty former commissioner issued a statement saying he had been wronged. In a statement dated Sunday and posted on his website, Kerik said he could not remain silent "in the face of what I believe has been a grave injustice." He complained about the judge and prosecutors and said he pleaded guilty because he was "financially helpless" and could have spent a year behind bars just awaiting trial. He said he hoped the "injustice" would be remedied on appeal and he would be returned to his wife and his 7- and 10-year-old daughters "much sooner rather than later." LinkHere
BP chose more toxic, less effective oil dispersant manufactured by company with ‘close ties’ to oil giant.
As BP believes it has finally made progress plugging the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, it has managed to prevent much of the oil already released from washing onshore by using huge quantities of oil dispersants. BP rounded up a “third of the world’s available supply of dispersants” and has been deploying them aggressively. But Greenwire reports that the chemical BP is using is more toxic and perhaps even less effective than other available dispersents: So far, BP has told federal agencies that it has applied more than 400,000 gallons of a dispersant sold under the trade name Corexit and manufactured by Nalco Co., a company that was once part of Exxon Mobil Corp. and whose current leadership includes executives at both BP and Exxon. And another 805,000 gallons of Corexit are on order, the company said, with the possibility that hundreds of thousands of more gallons may be needed if the well continues spewing oil for weeks or months. But according to EPA data, Corexit ranks far above dispersants made by competitors in toxicity and far below them in effectiveness in handling southern Louisiana crude. LinkHere
Transocean to give shareholders $1 billion while trying to cap its responsibility for Gulf spill at $27 million.
Transocean, Ltd., the giant oil contractor that leased its Deepwater Horizon rig to BP, held a “closed-door meeting” with shareholders Friday, “just days after” executives appeared before Congress to explain the company’s role in the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill. As ThinkProgress noted, the meeting took place at the company’s headquarters in Zug, Switzerland, where Transocean relocated two years ago to avoid paying taxes. Though CEO Steven Newman “ignored questions from reporters,” the company said in a statement that it would distribute $1 billion in dividends to shareholders: The revelation that Transocean is distributing a $1 billion profit to shareholders as one of its drill sites leaks millions of gallons of oil into the sea is sure to inflame an already smarting debate over offshore drilling and the company’s role.[...] To put the distribution in perspective, the amount of profit that Transocean plans to pay out in the next year is half of what Exxon ultimately paid for the Exxon Valdez disaster off the Alaska Coast. It’s also more than double what BP has said they’ve spent on the cleanup to date. Meanwhile, Transocean has “passionately argued” to limit its financial responsibility for the disaster. The company filed a court request last week to cap its liability under $27 million, a paltry sum considering BP has already spent over $450 million on cleanup, and analysts estimate the effort could ultimately cost up to $8 billion. As Raw Story notes, Transocean has actually made money from the disaster, collecting over $400 million from insurers, leaving it with a profit of $270 million after the costs of the rig are subtracted. As maritime attorney Jeff Seely told NPR, “They are the only people who have been compensated for this tragedy. The decedents [of the 11 workers killed in an explosion on the rig] haven’t been the compensated. The injured people who still are suffering, all the fishermen out in the Gulf that can no longer work haven’t been compensated.” LinkHere
Goldman Sachs Publicly Supports Financial Reform, But Fights It With Lobbyists
For all of Goldman Sachs' professed support for an overhaul of financial regulations, the megabank hasn't exactly withdrawn its army of lobbyists. Far from wearing out its welcome, the firm is busier than ever safeguarding its interests while a Wall Street crackdown takes shape in Washington. Goldman has an unrivaled and influential network of lobbyists, including about 50 people with close ties to Congress and past White Houses, a Huffington Post Investigative Fund analysis of lobbying and campaign records shows. The lobbyists are challenging reforms aimed at Goldman's profit centers, including the trading of complex contracts known as derivatives. The Senate this week will continue debating proposed regulations of derivatives, which are blamed for fueling the financial crisis. Perceptions of Goldman's role in the crisis, along with a civil fraud case brought against the bank last month by the Securities and Exchange Commission, have already spurred predictions of a less dominant future. But all is not lost for Goldman, which still stands out as perhaps the most influential of the nation's top six banks -- a remarkable feat given a crowded field of well-connected institutions. Goldman's professional persuaders hail from 14 different lobbying firms, Senate lobbying records show. No other top bank -- not JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo or Citigroup -- has as many firms lobbying on its behalf. Goldman has hired nearly 40 lobbyists, all former government employees, to target financial reform alone, Senate disclosure records show. These services have not come cheaply. Since the beginning of 2009, Goldman has spent nearly $6 million on lobbying, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Only Citigroup and JPMorgan spent more. So far this year, Goldman has revved up its lobbying even further. In the first three months of 2010, the bank spent $1.53 million lobbying, a 22 percent jump over the same period last year. Goldman also has increased its donations to political campaigns. "It does show how a corporation will leave no stone unturned -- creating a powerful and potentially influential lobbying force," said Ellen Miller, co-founder and executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that advocates for greater disclosure of how Washington works and is influenced. LinkHere
Late this past week, Republicans in the Senate effectively blocked legislation that would have raised the cap on the amount of money oil companies like BP would have to pay for economic damages caused by oil spills. It was, if nothing else, risky politics. As it stands now, a company will pay only $75 million in economic-related liabilities. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) wants the figured bumped up to $10 billion. Asked why the GOP would block such an effort, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) suggested on Sunday that raising the cap was unnecessary because BP had given him it's word that it would cover the costs of the spill in the Gulf. LinkHere
OF all wars, only culture wars offer the hope of sheer, unadulterated hilarity. Sex and hypocrisy were staples of farce long before America became a nation, and they never go out of style. Just listen to the roaring audience at the new hit Broadway revival of the perennial “La Cage aux Folles,” where a family-values politician gets his comeuppance in drag. Or check out the real-life closet case of George Rekers, who has been fodder for late-night television comics all month. Rekers is in a class by himself even in the era of Larry Craig and Ted Haggard. A Baptist minister and clinical psychologist with a bent for “curing” homosexuality, the married, 61-year-old Rekers was caught by Miami New Times last month in the company of a 20-year-old male escort at Miami International Airport. The couple was returning from a 10-day trip to London and Madrid. New Times, which published its exposé in early May, got an explanation from Rekers: “I had surgery, and I can’t lift luggage. That’s why I hired him.” Alas, a photo showed Rekers, rather than his companion, handling the baggage cart. The paper also reported that Rekers had recruited the young man from Rentboy.com, a Web site whose graphic sexual content requires visitors to vouch for their age. Rentboy.com — really, who could make this stuff up? Much like the former Senator Craig, Rekers claims it was all an innocent mix-up. His only mistake, he told the magazine Christianity Today, was to hire a “travel assistant” without proper vetting. Their travels were not in vain. The good minister expressed gratitude that his rent boy “did let me share the gospel of Jesus Christ with him with many Scriptures in three extended conversations.” This is a family newspaper, so you must supply your own jokes here. But once we stop laughing, we must remember that culture wars are called wars for a reason. For all the farcical shenanigans they can generate, they do inflict real casualties — both at the micro level, on the lives of ordinary people, and at the national level, where, as we’re seeing right now, a Supreme Court nominee’s entire record can be reduced to a poisonous and distorted debate over her stand on the single culture-war issue of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Rekers is no bit player in these wars. Though he’s not a household name, he should be. He’s the Zelig of homophobia, having played a significant role in many of the ugliest assaults on gay people and their civil rights over the last three decades. His public career dates back to his authorship of a theoretically scholarly 1982 tome titled “Growing Up Straight: What Families Should Know About Homosexuality.” (I say theoretically because many of the footnotes cite his own previous writings.) And what did Rekers think that families should know? By Chapter 2, he is citing the cautionary tale of how one teacher’s “secret homosexual lifestyle most likely led to his murder.” Rekers soon went on to become a co-founder with James Dobson of the Family Research Council, a major, if not the major, activist organization of the religious right as well as a power broker in the Republican Party. When the Miami scandal broke, the council’s current president, Tony Perkins, quickly tried to distance himself, claiming that he had to review “historical records” to verify who Rekers was and that his organization had “no contact” with him or “knowledge of his activities” for over a decade. That historical record is hardly as obscure as Perkins maintained. Rachel Maddow of MSNBC found that only weeks before Rekers’s excellent European adventure, his name appeared on the masthead of an official-looking letter sent to some 14,000 school superintendents nationwide informing them that homosexuality is a choice that can be stamped out by therapy. The letter was from the “American College of Pediatricians” — a misnomer for what is actually a political organization peddling homophobic junk-science. Rekers was also on the board of another notorious peddler of gay “cures” — the National Association for Research and Therapy on Homosexuality, or Narth — until he resigned last week. Such groups have done nothing to stop homosexuality but plenty to help promote punitive “treatment” and suicidal depression among untold numbers of gay youths. LinkHere