Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Why These Faces Make the Republicans Even Crazier & David Koch Outed -- As A Carefully Contrived Media Darling. (Quick, Hide The Silverware!)

Didn't this guy make the Republicans crazy last night (and undoubtedly spin into even higher (fast-talking) gear). (And he doesn't even have a Bush family connection!)


Julian Castro - Hispanic Obama?

Or this guy?

Dem Governor Brings Down The House

Who knew there were so many Democratic success stories?

Or how about this guy? From the past, the truth spoke clearly (and drove the crowd to new heights of hopefulness).

From HuffPo:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- In a politically savvy move, Democrats on Tuesday used clips from Mitt Rommey's losing 1994 campaign for Senate against the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) in a moving video tribute to Kennedy, who served nearly five decades in the Senate.

Clips shown during the first night of the Democratic National Convention included Romney's now infamous reiteration of his pro-choice position, in which he assured voters, "You will not see me wavering on that." More recently, as he pursued national office, Romney has reversed himself on abortion rights, and is now firmly anti-abortion.
RNC Chair Reince Priebus, known of late for his racist attacks on President Obama, tweeted about the video in anger:

The video prompted Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to tweet: “Classless Dems use tribute video of deceased Ted Kennedy to attack Mitt Romney.”
Right. Because the guy who planned on using a hologram of deceased Ronald Reagan at last week's Republican Covention would know anything about class.

And of course, why didn't they use a dead Reagan hologram? Not because of any sense of decorum. Oh no. Get this:

So why were the plans axed? According to Reynolds, it was out of concern the deceased Reagan might outshadow the very-much-alive Romney. ”At the time he hadn’t chosen Paul Ryan, so I think they were a little worried about his energy,” Reynolds said. ”Even in a hologram form I think Reagan’s going to beat a lot of people in terms of communicating.”
The Republicans were afraid that even a dead guy would have more appeal than a very much alive Mitt Romney.


And weren't you thrilled to hear and see Lily Ledbetter?

Equal-pay champion takes shot at Romney  

And then, there was this woman:

I always like to highlight particularly intelligent and well-written blogs from time to time, and Digby at Hullabaloo has been all over the Conventions experience lately .

Take a look at her latest insightful commentary:


The Template For The 2nd Term


Here's that Dick Durbin interview from earlier today in which he talks about the Simpson Bowles Zombie. Fast forward to about 3:25.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
Here's the Democratic Platform on the subject:

After the previous administration put two wars and tax cuts weighted towards the wealthy on the nation's credit card, and in the wake of the worst recession since the Great Depression, Democrats took decisive steps to restore fiscal responsibility to Washington. We reinstated the tough pay-as-you-go budget rules of the 1990s so that all permanent new spending and tax cuts must now be offset by savings or revenue increases.

President Obama has already signed into law $2 trillion in spending reductions as part of a balanced plan to reduce our deficits by over $4 trillion over the next decade while taking immediate steps to strengthen the economy now. This approach includes tough spending cuts that will bring annual domestic spending to its lowest level as a share of the economy in 50 years, while still allowing us to make investments that benefit the middle class now and reduce our deficit over a decade.

In order to reduce the deficit while still making the investments we need in education, research, infrastructure, and clean energy, the President has asked for the wealthiest taxpayers to pay their fair share. We have to cut what we don't need in order to make room for the things we do need to grow our economy. We support allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest to expire and closing loopholes and deductions for the largest corporations and the highest-earning taxpayers.

We are committed to reforming our tax code so that it is fairer and simpler, creating a tax code that lives up to the Buffett Rule so no millionaire pays a smaller share of his or her income in taxes than middle class families do.
We are also committed to reforming the corporate tax code to lower tax rates for companies in the United States, with additional relief for those locating manufacturing and research and development on our shores, while closing loopholes and reducing incentives for corporations to shift jobs overseas.
What was it Chris Hayes called the Dems the other day? The tax collectors for the austerity state?

The good news is that it also says this:

We believe every American deserves a secure, healthy, and dignified retirement. America's seniors have earned their Medicare and Social Security through a lifetime of hard work and personal responsibility. President Obama is committed to preserving that promise for this and future generations.

One hopes that the President will keep that last commitment and not abandon it in another feckless attempt to build credibility with the Republicans in the upcoming "fiscal cliff" negotiations. Assuming they mean this, of course.

Considering how eager our allegedly liberal Dick Durbin is to push Simpson Bowles, that's debatable.
Simpson Bowles, you'll recall, not only cut the hell out of Medicare and Medicaid, it put Social Security on the menu even though it wasn't part of their mandate and contributes nothing to these deficit numbers. They just did it out of the goodness of their hearts.

Fortunately, they couldn't get a majority of the commission to sign on to their plan, but Durbin seems to think it's the template for the talks coming up right after the election.

If you are going to be attending any rallies over he next few weeks and are wondering what kind of signs you should take, how about "No Grand Bargains" or "Just Say No to Simpson-Bowles." Or something like that. They may not be sexy, but if that message starts showing up in the crowds maybe the politicians will realize that we are on to them. I'm not sure they care, but ....

And another finely argued essay from Digby:

Dreaming Of A Broken GOP: Dream On


Ed Kilgore has a great post up today about something I've been noticing as well -- the argument that the only way to break the gridlock is for the Republicans to win:

In a Bloomberg column, Ramesh Ponnuru makes an argument for Mitt Romney’s election that you are going to hear a lot more of soon: it’s the only way that partisan gridlock in Washington can be broken. The basic theory is that Republicans will not change from their current savage ideological course (which will actually get more savage if they lose this election they think themselves destined to win) and are very unlikely to lose enough congressional support to reduce their veto power over legislation. So if you want something new to happen, a President Romney and a Republican-controlled House and Senate (presumably using reconciliation to do whatever they want without Democratic support) are the only ticket.

Here’s Ponnuru’s response to those (including the President) who have suggested an Obama victory will humble Republicans:

Republicans famously failed to react to their drubbing in 2008 — after which, let’s recall, Time magazine was running cover stories on their impending extinction — by softening their line on anything. Why would they react that way after an election that goes better for them? Especially when they will be looking forward to the gains that the party out of the White House typically makes in midterm elections.

Not to mention the nomination of a real conservative, not some flip-flopping wimp like Romney, in 2016, eh?

That's exactly right. In spite of what Democrats across the land are trying to sell right now, it's highly unlikely that the Republicans are going to magically "moderate" in the face of defeat this time out. When have they ever done that? And it's even less likely now with the make-up of much of the congress being from the far right. It's not reasonable to think they are going to lay down their arms just because that squishy Mormon from Taxachussetts screwed the pooch. As Kilgore quips, Ponnuru's advice to metaphorically lie back and enjoy it is really a Sopranos style threat:

So as a cap to four years of political hostage-taking, a final general election pitch from Republicans this year is to hold the next four years hostage as well: give us total power to begin implementing our agenda and start dismantling this silly, expensive New Deal/Great Society system and this European-style progressive tax code, or nothing at all happens. We’ll get our way eventually, so why not get started now?

But I bring this up because I'm not just hearing this from Republicans, but from some liberals as well. They put it like this: if the Republicans have the White House and the congress, the Democrats will stop their agenda just as the Republicans stopped Obama.

It's Obama being in the White House that's made the Democrats so willing to sell-out their own agenda. To that, I have to say again: when have they ever done that? It's just not how they roll.

Now it's true that they stood in the way of Bush's Social Security privatization scheme, but Bush was a weak second term president and Republicans themselves weren't clamoring to touch the third rail while Iraq's civil war was blowing up around them. And I have seen nothing since then that leads me to believe the Democrats would be able to control the agenda from the opposition the way the Republicans have done it.

There are far too many of them who buy into the Wall Street Worldview and/or believe that bipartisanship is an end unto itself. I doubt very seriously that they would hold the line from the minority.

Kilgore points out that it's the commentariat that is most longing for a break in the gridlock, many of them sounding like the jaded European elite of he 20s, and like them opening up the discussion to some very unpleasant anti-democratic notions. He concludes by saying that regardless, the dynamic is going to be different after the election. He notes:

Even if there is no perceived “mandate,” the President’s hand will be greatly strengthened in the negotiations over how to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

Indeed. Unfortunately, I just saw Dick Durbin tell Andrea Mitchell that he knows for a fact that the president is going to use Simpson Bowles as a template in the 2nd term, so that strengthened hand is a very dubious advantage.

And she points us to Charlie's latest revelation here:

Charlie Pierce on the Kennedy mystique

And, then, of course, there's an appearance by one of the Fabulous Koch Boys to focus our attention:

David Koch comes out -- as a carefully contrived media darling. (Quick, hide the silverware!)

Is that former "shadow"-dweller Barnabas Collins coming out at last week's Republican National Convention? Oh wait, no, wrong vampire! This is the Far Right's new media darling, convention delegate David Koch!

"Americans for Prosperity's Web site advertised Koch's Tampa début as "open to the public" and the press. But The New Yorker, whose coverage the Kochs have complained about, was denied credentials to cover the event. Our 2010 piece on the Koch Brothers, "Covert Operations," is apparently as apt as ever."

-- Jane Mayer, in the News Desk post "Out Of The Shadows"

by Ken

Happily, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer has retained all her curiosity about the doings of the Brothers Koch. (You may recall that her now-legendary 2010 New Yorker piece "Covert Operations" was very likely the prime mover in the lifting of the veil of secrecy from the Kochs' mammoth energy- and mind-control operation.) So it's not surprising that she's fascinated by junior brother David, who has generally functioned as the "front man" of the Koch Industries energy-and-far-right-politics conglomerate, leaving the brainwork to brother Chas. David, unlike Chas, seems to enjoy the spotlight. He lives in New York, while Chas tends to business in friendly Wichita.

But that's not to say that David has welcomed scrutiny. He likes being lionized as a gazillionaire philanthropist. But as Jane M notes, "the co-owner of America's second largest private company, Koch Industries, an oil, pipeline, chemical, lumber, and finance conglomerate that has been called 'the Standard Oil of our times,' has historically been press-shy." No more, however. (Note: There are lotsa links onsite.)

[H]e used the occasion of the Republican National Convention, which he attended as a delegate, to rebrand himself as a good citizen rather than one of the biggest and most secretive behind-the-scenes funders of the opposition to Barack Obama. (There are wealthy people backing Obama's reëlection campaign as well, but as I reported in the magazine recently, he's been having trouble on that front.) The fact that he'd take on the public role of a delegate was noteworthy on its own, but even more remarkable was that his week in Tampa culminated with an event billed as a "Salute to Entrepreneurs Building America," which was really a kind of coming-out party that he threw himself in conjunction with Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political group he co-founded.

"I … like to speak out," Koch reportedly told a small throng at the event. Alas, Koch's new interest in going public doesn't yet include disclosure of how much he is personally spending on the 2012 campaign, since most of his donations go to a network of non-profits that hide the names of their donors.
David K's media coming out "capped a week of carefully controlled press appearances in friendly venues, evidently aimed at a [an] image makeover" that had her thinking about a similar one once undertaken by the man who created Standard Oil.

A little more than a hundred years ago, John D. Rockefeller, Sr., then thought to be the richest man in the world, found himself the subject of damaging investigative journalism. Scared by growing public backlash, and the talk of stiffer regulations coming from a President intent on reform, America's first great oil baron launched a public-relations campaign aimed at enhancing his image.

Although he had previously operated in secrecy, avoiding the press -- especially muckraking journalists like Ida Tarbell, who exposed shocking practices by his company, Standard Oil -- he began to make himself more accessible. He started speaking up, and writing. And although he is thought to have been making a billion dollars in inflation-adjusted currency every year by then, he also won a surprising amount of good will by personally dipping into his pockets when in public, and offering nickels to children and dimes to adults.

The Koch media campaign made free use of friendly-billionaire-controlled right-wing media. David's own name was attached to an op-ed piece in the New York Post, "owned by Rupert Murdoch, a fellow Manhattan mogul who shares many of Koch's views." And a fawning piece by "conservative pundit" Michael Barnes, "Citizen Koch Goes to Tampa," appeared both in the right-wing weekly rag the Washington Examiner and in the "ostensibly higher-brow journal of conservative opinion" The Weekly Standard -- both owned by right-wing billionaire Philip Anschutz.

Scribe Barone, Jane M notes, "has spoken at two conferences held by the Kochs, as he acknowledges in his piece."

Most of Barone's article dwells on David Koch's philanthropic activities -- like Rockefeller before him, Koch has given substantial amounts of money to fund the arts and scientific research. Koch, who Forbes counts as the fifth-wealthiest billionaire in America, has warned, though, that if Obama raises taxes on dividend income, he may not be able to afford to give as much. At his public unveiling on Thursday, Koch said he could support some unspecified tax hikes in the interest of balancing the budget and reducing the government's debt.

But evidently, increases in taxes on dividends -- which form a substantial portion of his own income -- are not among those he might support. In the Summer 2012 issue of Philanthropy Magazine, he told Evan Sparks that, "I'm worried about the tax increases the Obama Administration is lobbying for with Congress. A substantial amount of my income comes to me through dividends."

Until 2003, dividends were taxed at the same rate as salaries and other earned income, but the Bush Administration cut the tax rate on dividends to fifteen per cent. The Obama Administration has proposed raising the top dividend tax rate back up to 39.6 per cent, and it is this that Koch suggests might impede his philanthropic activity. On Thursday, Koch also surprised some by saying that he favors legalizing gay marriage, but the stand is consistent with the Libertarian Party platform he ran for Vice President on in 1980, against Ronald Reagan. The Party's platform that year proposed the legalization of prostitution, recreational drugs, and suicide, and the abolition of virtually all roles for government other than the protection of individual rights, property, and national defense. Barone's piece also chronicled Koch's hurt feelings at facing public criticism for his extraordinary financial investment in American politics. A substantial portion of the four hundred million dollars -- the brothers' money, and that of their fellow conservative mega-donors -- that Koch-related organizations plan to spend in this year's elections is going toward financing scorching political ads, some of which have been condemned by non-partisan fact-checking groups as misleading. Yet asked how he felt about being criticized by opponents himself, Koch, who is seventy-two, told Barone, "It does not feel good."

And that, Jane speculates, may be what David K "is still avoiding some members of the media," which leads her to the observation about the Koch's notion of being "open to the public" which I put at the top of this post. As I suggested in writing in June about Chas K's move on the Cato Institute, the libertarian think tank the Kochs once more or less owned, "Chas isn't one of those billionaires who doesn't see the connection between his money and getting his way." My read is that Chas likes controlling, well, everything he can. And I quoted my earlier observation:

I imagine that a man like Chas, when he thinks about his wealth, focuses not so much on the money he has as on the money he doesn't have, for no good reason he can think of. Same deal with propaganda outlets. Doesn't he have enough? Perhaps not, for a man who likes to be in control, and doesn't seem to have the word "enough" in his vocabulary.

Now, Jane M suggests, a run of inconvenient publicity has made it desirable for the Kochs to create a touchier-feelier public front for their industrial and propaganda empire, and as a result, we're lucky to have Delegate David walking veritably among us mere mortals. Yuck!

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