Another Republican Plagiarizes Obama

Remember Vaughn Ward, the establishment favorite here in Idaho for a Democratic House seat until he was caught plagizarizing the President? Turns out he's not the only one. Seems Republicans refuse to work with Obama but love to copy him. Hypocrisy and partisanship at their finest.

Here's Stefani Carter, the Republican nominee against incumbent state Rep. Carol Kent (D) for the Texas state house in the Dallas area:

Rand Paul To Break Primary Promise in KY-SEN

So far Rand Paul’s problems have been about his ideas and words, not his behavior. That changed this month. Paul’s upcoming fundraiser with Senate Repub Leader Mitch McConnell may not seem like a big deal, except last September, he pledged not to accept any campaign contributions from Senators who supported the bank bailouts. The Northern Kentucky Enquirer reported at the time:

Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul has pledged to not accept campaign contributions from any U.S. Senator who voted in favor of bailing out the nation's banks last fall. Paul's pledge comes as one of his opponents in May's GOP Senate primary, Boone County Republican Trey Grayson, prepares to raise money at a Sept. 23 Washington fundraiser hosted by about 20 Republican members of the Senate…

"A primary focus of my campaign is that we need Republicans in office who will have the courage to say no to federal bailouts of big business. There is nothing in the Constitution that allows the government to pick winners and losers in the private sector and the Republican Party platform specifically condemns bailouts," Paul said.

Yet here’s this, from Politico:

Kentucky GOP Senate nominee Rand Paul railed against the Washington establishment in his primary campaign, but the Tea Party’s favorite Kentucky candidate will benefit from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s fundraising gravitas in Washington later this month.

McConnell will host a fundraising reception and dinner for Paul on June 24 at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, according to a copy of the invitation obtained by POLITICO and confirmed by a GOP official. Tickets to the McConnell-Paul event are pricey: Guests must pay a minimum of $1,000 to attend the reception and $4,000 to attend the dinner...

A request for comment to the Paul campaign was not immediately returned.

McConnell, of course, voted for the bailout. Small wonder, then, that in its latest rankings out today, First Read said that this seat is the 2nd best chance for a Democratic pick-up, ahead of the once-hyped contests in Missouri and New Hampshire. The Democrat in this race is state Attorney General Jack Conway.

Boehner: Taxpayers Should Bail Out BP

Lisa Murkowski’s failed EPA disapproval resolution had two nicknames: the Dirty Air Act and the Big Oil Bailout. The former was more appropriate, since the resolution wouldn’t have given any money directly to the oil industry. Murkowski’s ideas are bad, but not that bad. John Boehner’s ideas, on the other hand, really are that bad.

The House Republican leader, a long time beneficiary of BP campaign contributions, said yesterday that taxpayers should foot the bill for cleaning up BP’s mess in the Gulf Coast. His comments followed a similar statement from the conservative US Chamber of Commerce. From TPMDC:

In response to a question from TPMDC, House Minority Leader John Boehner said he believes taxpayers should help pick up the tab for the clean up.

"I think the people responsible in the oil spill--BP and the federal government--should take full responsibility for what's happening there," Boehner said at his weekly press conference this morning.

Boehner's statement followed comments last Friday by US Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue who said he opposes efforts to stick BP, a member of the Chamber, with the bill. "It is generally not the practice of this country to change the laws after the game," he said. "Everybody is going to contribute to this clean up. We are all going to have to do it. We are going to have to get the money from the government and from the companies and we will figure out a way to do that."

This is blatant hypocrisy from Boehner, whose office said just this week that “The federal government should be focused on getting its own fiscal house in order, not providing more bailouts with taxpayer money.” Still, we shouldn’t be surprised – according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, the Energy and Natural Resources sector has been Boehner’s fifth largest source of contributions over the course of his career to the tune of $896,148, including $15,200 from BP. In general, BP has given twice as much to Republican candidates as it has to Democratic candidates.

Michael Steel, the Repub leader’s spokesperson (not the RNC chair), has been backpedaling furiously since the press conference, telling Greg Sargent, “No taxpayer money for cleanup or damages -- period. BP pays," and the Huffington Post that “Boehner made a general statement… but he has said repeatedly that BP is responsible for the cost of the cleanup." As the HuffPo’s Jason Linkins points out, though, “Do you agree… [that] taxpayers should pitch in to clean up the oil spill?" is a pretty specific question, and Boehner said what he said. Yet even if Steel does succeed in rewriting history and walking back the leader’s comments, the Chamber of Commerce’s Donohue was even more specific when he said “we are going to have to get the money from the government.” Spin it any way you want, but these are the stated beliefs of the modern Republican Party: oligarchy first, and the people only if there’s time left over.

Murkowski’s Assault on the Clean Air Act Fails

The BP spill has stolen most of the environmental limelight this month, but the green movement went into hyperdrive this week to defend the Clean Air Act – and succeeded. Senator Lisa Murkowski’s disapproval resolution, written by big oil lobbyists and nicknamed “the Dirty Air Act,” would have prevented the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases under the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act. It failed today on a vote of 47-53.

Additional good news: The fact that coal state senators like Bob Casey, Robert Byrd, and Debbie Stabenow and oil state Senators like Mark Begich and Bill Nelson voted against this resolution bodes well for the prospects of future climate and energy legislation.

The vote was pretty poorly timed for Murkowski, coming at a time when most Americans want BP to pay more for its criminal negligence, not less. I’ve received at least 8 e-mails in the last 2 days from environmental groups like the Sierra Club, VoteVets, and Repower America with subjects like “Stop the Big Oil Bailout,” “One Day Left to Stop Big Oil,” “Protect the Clean Air Act,” and “Murkowski’s Last Stand.”

The eventual climate bill considered by the Senate will likely contain language similar to the Murkowski resolution, but at least it will be tied to new regulations. To ban the EPA from addressing climate change without tying it to such legislation first would cause irreparable harm to the planet. This is so painfully obvious that Murkowski couldn’t even recruit her fellow Alaska Senator to join her. "It is time for Congress to face up to this serious issue, not stick our heads in the sand and deny the irrefutable science," said Mark Begich (D-AK). EPA administrator Lisa Jackson agreed, writing for the Huffington Post earlier this week:

The fact that a single accident at a single offshore oil well can cause billions of dollars in damage, result in thousands of people losing their jobs and livelihoods and threaten an entire region highlights how important it is that we keep moving America forward, towards energy independence. We can't afford to go back.

That is why it is surprising to learn that on June 10, the Senate will vote on legislation that would take us back to the same old failed policies and increase America's oil dependence by billions of barrels. Senator Lisa Murkowski, with strong support from big oil companies and their lobbyists, has proposed a resolution that would drastically weaken our nation's historic effort to increase fuel savings, save consumers money and cut oil consumption from American cars and trucks.

Senator Murkowski's resolution would take away EPA's ability to protect the health and welfare of Americans from greenhouse gas pollution. The resolution would ignore and override scientific findings and allow big oil companies, big refineries and others to continue to pollute without any oversight or consequence. It would also gut EPA's authority in the clean cars program, a program that would help reduce our dependence on foreign oil and cut down on air pollution.

No Republican opposed the resolution – even so-called “moderates” like Collins, Snowe, and Brown sided against the Clean Air Act. Six Democrats joined them, including Evan Bayh, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson, Mark Pryor, and Jay Rockefeller.

Labor's Victory in Arkansas

Last night was a pretty good night for organized labor. Their candidate (in the AR-SEN primary) didn’t win, but they turned a blowout into a toss-up and pushed a moderate Senator to the left on at least one major issue. Taking on Democratic incumbents like this is largely unchartered territory for labor, and I’m not naive enough to believe that if you only almost win on a first run, then you’re finished with a stake through your heart. Unfortunately, much of the media is that naïve.

Politico’s Martin Kady says that Senator Lincoln “drove a stake through organized labor last night with her surprise victory over surging Lt. Gov. Bill Halter… Lincoln's victory means that at least for the time being, other moderates in the Senate can breathe easy and keep playing the middle on big ticket legislative items.” A CBS headline asks, "Did labor waste $10 million in Arkansas?" Even First Read says, “Simply put, Lincoln's narrow victory was a crushing blow to organized labor and the internet left, which had rallied around Halter.”

Excuse me, but Lincoln went from 18 points up to 4 points up, from a lock to a dead heat. What if she had started 14 points up? What if the next moderate starts just 10 points up? Organized labor showed they can make up those differences. Since when does that count as “breathing easy?” I’d call that a new and huge headache for Blue Dogs.  

Furthermore, labor started at a severe disadvantage – at just 4.2%, Arkansas has the second-lowest union membership in the country. All of the moderates Politico says can breathe easy are in states with higher union membership than that. Ben Nelson’s Nebraska – 9.2%. Bill Nelson’s Florida – 5.8%. What if labor chose to get involved in primaries in states like Alaska, with 22.3% membership, or Washington, at 20.2%?

A blow-out race in a state unfriendly to unions, and yet labor’s money came very, very close to toppling Lincoln. She was running scared, so stepped it up on derivatives and Wall Street reform – a pretty sweet worst-case scenario for progressives.

There's more...

The Problem Isn’t Progressive Policy; It’s Washington

This is not an anti-Democratic year. It is certainly an anti-Washington year, and since there are more Democratic than Repub incumbents in Washington, the unintended effect will be to punish the Democrats. But it will be important to stand what voters are railing against, and not to misinterpret their message. Voters don’t care about punishing the Democrats; they care about punishing the party in charge, which just happens to be the Democrats this time around. They’re angry at gridlock and unemployment, not at progressive policies.

Evidence of this: Gallup’s most recent generic ballot shows Repubs leading 49-43. A separate poll from the same firm released yesterday, however, gives the Repubs a 36% favorable rating and Democrats a 43% rating. This suggests to me that voters who disapprove of both parties plan to vote for the one not in power. To those voters, the only difference between 2010 and 2006 is a new cast of characters. They don’t like Repubs any more than they do Democrats but will vote for them this time because they’re not the ones in charge. And if the Repubs do indeed somehow manage to narrowly capture either house of Congress this year, then they’ll be the ones to suffer in 2012.

There’s no third party yet, but at least voters are starting to use primaries as a tool for change – and again, they’re doing it in a non-partisan way. Two Senators have lost their primaries, one from each party. As of last night, two Representatives have lost their primaries, again one from each party. Those evenly-split primary turnovers again shows that this isn’t about the Democrats; it’s about the Washington atmosphere. It’s about whichever party just happens to be in charge at any given moment. It’s about Washington gridlock, Washington incompetence, and Washington politics. Two years ago, Washington was a synonym for Republicans. Right now, it’s a synonym for Democrats. Lord only knows what it will be in 2012.

The impatience that demands a 100% turnaround in just four or even two years doesn’t help the country, but it is what it is. It will hurt Democrats in 2010, but it will also hurt Republicans, thus blunting Democratic losses. I think we’ll keep both houses, certainly the Senate. But the point is, we must recognize that voters are ticked at gridlock and hatred, not at progressive policies. And if we do indeed keep both houses, voters will have given Democrats two more years to try and implement those policies and show results. It will take filibuster reform and better communication than we saw over the first month of BP’s crime, but it can be done.

Trends continue as Griffith and Davis lose their Alabama primaries

Primaries in three states tonight, with both the important headlines coming out of Alabama: Repub Parker Griffith is the latest House incumbent to lose a primary, and Rep. Artur Davis lost a gubernatorial campaign by over 30 points that he was expected to win. If these results show us anything, it's what we already know: Americans are sick of Washington politics, Democrats are sick of Republican-lite candidates running in their primaries, and voters can sense naked political opportunism when they see it.

The biggest news of the night is Congressman Parker Griffith of Alabama, a Democrat turned Republican, lost his AL-05 primary to Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks, 51-23. Griffith’s loss isn’t a big surprise – the Madison County Republican Party endorsed BOTH of Parker’s opponents – but it will play into the national anti-incumbent meme. This is an anti-incumbent year, yes, but as with PA-SEN the real thing to take away from this race is that you can’t ask the base that once vilified you to suddenly embrace you. If voters can sense only one thing, it’s authenticity, and Parker Griffith was anything but genuine.

Regarding the general, according to AL.gov, “The 5th Congressional District has not elected a Republican representative in more than a century, and Brooks will now face Democratic nominee Steve Raby in November.” Raby is a former US Senate staffer running in an anti-Washington year, and half century or not McCain and Bush did each win 60% of the vote here, so it’ll be a tough one to hold.

Also notable is Rep. Artur Davis’ stunning lost to Ag Commission Ron Sparks in the Democratic primary for Alabama Governor. I call it stunning because Davis led Sparks 41-33 just two weeks ago, yet is down 62-38 with 96% of precincts reporting. Another surprise here is that the white Sparks pulled a full 40% of the African American vote. Says Ed Kilgore at FiveThirtyEight, “The CW tomorrow will probably be that Davis thought far too much about positioning himself for the general election before concentrating on the primary, and that Sparks' uncontested claim on endorsements by African-American political groups was a big deal after all.”

Davis did sort of approach the primary with an air of entitlement, having planned to run in this race for years. I used to be a big fan of his, but I can’t say I’m too disappointed by this loss. The closer Davis got to running state-wide, the more conservative he became. I interviewed him for the Dartmouth Free Press in 2006 and wrote a flattering profile, as did the New York Times Magazine in 2008, which at the time he probably deserved. But as Howie Klein observed last October,

His lifetime ProgressivePunch score is 71.09, making him the 165th most progressive member of the House, not close to being a progressive, but not close to being a conservative either. Like I said, he's a moderate-- or at least he was until he decided to run for governor. This year, his score dropped into Republican territory and suddenly he's voting more frequently with the GOP than with the Democrats on crucial issues. His Progressive Punch score plummeted from 71.09 to 28.06!

Davis ran to the right in a Democratic primary, fearing a conservative general electorate. Voters said thanks, but no thanks. Griffith abandoned the Democratic primary altogether, fearing that same electorate. A different set of voters again said no thanks. Voters aren’t stupid – whether they know the facts or not, they can sense authenticity. That’s an important takeaway for candidates in any race: be genuine. Be yourself.

But of course, it’s not the only takeaway. As the media will point out, Davis was the Washington candidate; Sparks was more local. Griffith is another incumbent Congressman to lose his seat in a primary. Tonight will be spun as, and to some extent is, part of the anti-incumbent trend.

AL.com has more Alabama primary results. Mississippi and New Mexico also had primaries, but no House incumbents lost because no incumbents were primaried, so the light turnout is no surprise. New Mexico Repubs did select Susana Martinez to face off against Democrat Diane Denish in the gubernatorial race to replace Bill Richardson; Lt. Gov Denish is likely the favorite.

Presidential Legacies

Saturday night I watched HBO’s new film about Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, “The Special Relationship.” It was for the most part a good film, focusing on the relationships between the two men and the countries, using the Irish peace process, Yugoslavia, and Clinton’s sex scandals as the focal points. Michael Sheen did a great job playing Blair, adding a little more depth than he did in The Queen. It was weirder seeing Dennis Quaid as Clinton, though, given that I’d already seen him play George W. Bush in “American Dreamz.” His mannerisms were pretty good, but his voice work was horrendous, worse than John Travolta’s. I also thought the writers were a bit tough on Clinton – I don’t know the full details of the Clinton-Blair relationship, but I doubt Clinton was that petty towards the end.

But I’m not making this post as a movie review. I’m making it to play a little game. In the film, Clinton tells Blair that, even though he’s only been in office for a month, he needs to start thinking about his legacy. Blair scoffs, but Hillary backs Bill up and says you will only be remembered for one thing, so you have to pay close attention to what that one thing is. I think there’s some truth to that, so I’m wondering, what do you think our recent presidents’ legacies will be?

George W. Bush
A) Iraq
B) General incompetence
C) 9/11 and terrorism
D) Other

Bill Clinton
A) Health care failures
B) Economic prosperity
C) Sex and impeachment
D) Other

George H.W. Bush
A) Desert Storm
B) “Read My Lips”/new taxes
C) Latin American politics
D) Other

Ronald Reagan
A) “Ending” the Cold War
B) Tax cuts and/or deficits
C) Iran-Contra
D) Other

Paul, Palin, and Puerility

Dear Sarah,

I know that in your eyes I’m a socialist lefty pajamas-wearing blogger, but in honor of today’s Idaho primary, a place where we both grew up and even share an alma mater in North Idaho College, I hope you’ll be willing to set aside our differences for a moment and clear just one thing up for me.

Why, when you or Rand Paul say something stupid in response to a reporter’s question, is it the reporter’s fault for playing “gotchya” journalism, but when Barack Obama says something you don’t like, it’s proof that he’s a "reckless" "socialist" hell bent on destroying our national defense?

This strikes me as a hypocritical double standard, but I’m sure that's only because my un-American elitism blinds me to your no-doubt obvious and honorable motives. Please help me remove my blinders, and explain this to me. Thanks!!!

Respectfully yours,
Nathan

BTW, speaking of Rand Paul’s diarrhea of the mouth, KY-SEN Democratic nominee Jack Conway has launched the following brief but pointed petition. Please sign it:

Rand Paul said that holding BP accountable for the Gulf oil spill - one of the greatest environmental disasters in history - is “un-American.” Rand Paul apparently thinks that corporations should be allowed to do what they see fit without oversight or accountability, even when it hurts working families and taxpayers.

Sign this petition to join Jack Conway’s campaign and tell Rand Paul that we need Senators who will stand up for working families and fight to hold BP and Wall Street corporations accountable.

KY-SEN: Jack Conway Comes Out Swinging

What bugs me most about Rand Paul’s comments isn’t even the substance, the opposition to the Civil Rights Act. It’s the way he characterized the issue: “But what you have to answer when you answer this point of view, which is an abstract, obscure conversation from 1964 that you want to bring up.”

Try telling the folks on the other side of Bull Connor’s dogs that it was an “abstract, obscure conversation.” Try telling that to Emmett Till, or Jonathan Daniels.

If there was ever anyone unfit to hold a US Senate seat, it’s Rand Paul. Fortunately Democratic opponent state AG Jack Conway, who we’ve been pushing here at MyDD for months, has come out swinging. From an e-mail:

Rand Paul's narrow and rigid ideology would have dangerous consequences for Kentucky's working families, veterans, students, disabled citizens, and anyone without a voice in the halls of power.

Students who need federal loans to help pay for college? Sorry. Disabled people facing discrimination on the job? Tough luck. What about a person of color who is refused service at a restaurant? Paul thinks businesses should be free to do that.

Rand Paul says that there's too much government oversight in America today. Really? Does he think that too much government oversight caused the oil spill in the Gulf, the collapse of Wall Street and the housing market crash?

If you think Rand Paul is completely out of touch with the vast majority of Americans, you're right - he is. So it's up to us to stop him. Please make a donation to my campaign today so I can beat Rand Paul in November. I'll stand up for Kentucky. He won't.

Click here to make a donation of $25, $50, or more to my campaign right now. With your help, I can stop Rand Paul's rigid ideology that threatens our fundamental rights and protections.

This is gonna be a fun general election.

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