OpenSecrets.org has fundraising profiles for all 535 members of Congress (and more).
Coffee Party USA's insight:
"As surely as water flows downhill, money in politics flows to where the power is. Individuals and interest groups will give campaign contributions to politicians in the best position to deliver what they're looking for. That means incumbents get vastly more than challengers, committee chairmen and legislative leaders get more than rank-and-file members, and parties in power get more than parties in the minority."
When conservatism became a movement, it lost its soul.
- Alan Pell Crawford
Just 2 days ago, I posted a piece about conservative radio host, Mark Levin, receiving the "inaugural" Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment Award at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
I posed these questions with it:
"Is this really what it means to be "conservative" in America today? Is it any wonder so many of us struggle to connect with each other?"
Now, and with sincere thanks to a good friend who just happens to be a conservative, I offer this article from The American Conservative by Alan Pell Crawford.
I strongly encourage everyone - especially liberals and progressives, but regardless of where you place yourself on the socio-political spectrum - to read it. It is informative, educational, and thought-provoking. It helped me to better understand where and how modern day conservatism got its start, as well as how the "conservative movement" has changed over the last few decades.
The contrast between Levin and Crawford is stark. The question now, it seems, is which one of them is more representative of conservatism to conservatives? Only conservatives can answer that question.
It is the night of August 15, 1973. I’m at Washington’s Sheraton-Park Hotel, now the Marriott-Wardman. The occasion is the annual convention of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), formed 12 years earlier by, among others, William F. Buckley Jr. While nearly 1,000 YAFers are elsewhere in the building, I, by special invitation, am at a reception hosted by R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. Tyrrell—who had been kind enough to help me land an internship that summer at the right-wing weekly Human Events—was then the dashing editor of The Alternative, a magazine for undergraduates with Tory sensibilities.
The Alternative in time was renamed TheAmerican Spectator, and as Tyrrell became more enmeshed in conservative-movement politics, it would move uptown to the Washington, D.C. suburbs. But back then, The Alternative was edited in a farmhouse outside Bloomington, Indiana, home to Indiana University. It was at Indiana, as an undergraduate who had consumed a heady concoction of two parts Mencken and one part Edmund Burke, that I became an occasional contributor to The Alternative. Its publisher, the man we called “Baron” Von Kannon, is now a vice president at the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank established that same year.
Vidant Health, a system of hospitals serving 29 counties in North Carolina's "Black Belt," announced six months ago that it would be closing the Vidant Pungo Hospital in Belhaven, NC, which they had purchased two years earlier.
When they obtained the hospital from Pantego Creek, LLC, Vidant Health signed a contract promising that the hospital would remain open, promising to improve services. The original purpose of this meeting was to hear a proposal from Rural Community Hospitals of America (RCHA), contradicting Vidant Health's claim that the hospital cannot be run more efficiently, and offering to do so, as RCHA has done in more than 200 small towns across the country. For this to happen, Pantego Creek, LLC would have to take action to reacquire the hospital (presumably through legal action over breach of contract).
On January 8, 2014, Belhaven's Mayor Adam O'Neal had asked the Town Council to approve funds that would allow RCHA to conduct the in-depth study of Vidant Pungo Hospital's prospects and financial outlook. On Feb. 24, RCHA presented the findings to the Town Council and a packed house of concerned citizens, the overwhelming majority of whom wanted the hospital not to be shut down. [MORE]
NOTE: Vidant Health declined our request for an interview, and declined our offer to issue a written statement
House Bill 2789 (HB2789) was filed by Rep. Dave Taylor (R-Moxee) and a bipartisan group of five democrats and six republicans. The bill prohibits the use of drones to collect personal information t...
Coffee Party USA's insight:
OLYMPIA, Wa., February 17, 2014 – Today, the Washington State house passed a bill putting strict limitations on the use of drones and other “extra-sensory devices” within the state. The vote was 83-15.
House Bill 2789 (HB2789) was filed by Rep. Dave Taylor (R-Moxee) and a bipartisan group of five democrats and six republicans. The bill prohibits the use of drones to collect personal information that “describes, locates, or indexes anything about a person” without a warrant “made in writing, upon oath or affirmation, to a judicial officer…where there is probable cause.” Once such warrants are issued by a judicial officer, the legislation allows their use for ten days. A judicial officer may grant an extension, but for no more than thirty days.
The legislation also bans public agencies from even acquiring drones without specific authorization from the appropriate governing body.
In Washington State: Take steps to support limits on drones HERE.
Other States: Contact your state legislators today – urge them to introduce similar legislation. Model bills and contact info HERE.
On Feb. 22nd, the twelve TPP countries will begin continued negotiations around how to trade away lives and livelihoods. As the talks come to an end next Tuesday, we’re going to inundate the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and our members of Congress social media-style – and we hope you’ll join us!
For a brief, giddy moment, Sean Noble—a little-known former aide to an Arizona congressman—became one of the most important people in American politics.
Plucked from obscurity by libertarian billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, Noble was tasked with distributing a torrent of political money raised by the Koch network, a complex web of nonprofits nicknamed the Kochtopus, into conservative causes in the 2010 and 2012 elections.
Noble handed out almost $137 million in 2012 alone -- all of it so-called dark money from unnamed donors -- from his perch atop the Center to Protect Patient Rights, a group run out of an Arizona post office box.
Much of it was channeled to obvious destinations: Groups supporting Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, for example.
But with Noble as ringmaster, Koch money also poured into efforts that didn’t surface until long after Election Day: To a political committee backing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker against a recall attempt; to a group blaming President Obama for high gas prices; even to a legal challenge to Arizona’s redistricting plan.
Who are the people and groups behind the TV ads in the 2014 federal elections? Below is a list of organizations that have been active or are expected to be active in raising and spending money to influence voters in 2014. Click on the links to read profiles of each organization. The groups were selected based on the amounts they have spent, or say they plan to spend, or the media attention they have attracted. It is not a comprehensive list, and additional groups will be added as the campaign season unfolds.
Many of these groups may legally raise and spend unlimited amounts of money. They are known as super PACs and must register with the Federal Election Commission. Others may legally raise unlimited donations and avoid disclosing their donors. Those groups do not file with the FEC, but register rather with the IRS under Section 501(c).
The powerful don't care about the poor because they barely interact with them.
Coffee Party USA's insight:
Jamelle Bouie, August 3, 2012 - 3:15 PM ET
A few weeks ago, I wrote about a recent event where the usual clique of Beltway deficit hawks—Pete Peterson, Alan Simpson, Erksine Bowles—clucked about the danger of the debt. To them, and many others, our debt is the nation’s paramount economic problem—in their telling, it has the power to sink our growth, and impoverish our citizens.
Somehow, this urgency vanishes when it comes to mass unemployment. Relatively little energy is devoted to the 14 million Americans who are out of work, despite the fact that their suffering is far more real than the hypothetical debt crisis of Washington fever dreams.
The Morgan Stanley settlement is the latest agreement between a Wall Street firm and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which has sued several banks and financial institutions seeking relief over losses that were borne by taxpayers.
In a securities filing late Tuesday, Morgan Stanley said that it had reached an agreement “in principle” with the agency, which is the federal conservator for the mortgage finance giants Fannie and Freddie.
The settlement is the latest agreement between a Wall Street firm and the F.H.F.A., which in 2011 sued 18 financial institutions seeking relief for some of the big losses suffered by the taxpayer-supported entities.
According to the agency’s lawsuit, Morgan Stanley sold $10.58 billion in mortgage-backed securities to Fannie and Freddie during the credit boom, while presenting “a false picture” of the riskiness of the loans.
US spy courts add two judges appointed by Democrats Reuters Civil liberties advocates, as well as Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, have said that the lower spy court risks its impartiality by having at one point 10 of its 11...
(Reuters) - Two secret courts that authorize U.S. spying operations such as the massive collection of telephone data are adding two judges who were put on the bench by Democratic presidents, a spokesman said on Friday, in a shift following criticism that one of the two courts is one-sided.
The appointments, to the 11-member U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and to the three-member U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, came without comment from Chief Justice John Roberts, who in addition to heading the U.S. Supreme Court has exclusive power to determine the makeup of the two spy courts.
Roberts is a conservative judge appointed to the high court in 2005 by Republican President George W. Bush. The vast majority of the judges he has chosen for the spy courts have been Republican appointees.
Filing a section challenge to the 1965 Voting Rights Act is very expensive.
Coffee Party USA's insight:
by ADAM RAGUSEA
February 06, 2014 5:00 AM
It's been almost eight months since the Supreme Court effectively stuck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. That section required places with a history of discrimination to get their local voting laws cleared by the federal government. When the Supreme Court ruled, it said people could file lawsuits if they felt disenfranchised. But it hasn't quite worked out that way.
US PIRG Applauds the Introduction of the Government by the People Act
Coffee Party USA's insight:
WASHINGTON - February 5 - U.S. PIRG proudly endorses the Government By the People Act, legislation introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives that would put ordinary Americans back in charge of our elections.
The bill, H.R. 20, sponsored by Rep. John Sarbanes (MD), would allow candidates to run for office by relying on a large number of small donations from people back home.
“It’s time we return to government of, by, and for the people, not special interests,” said Emma Boorboor, Democracy Associate with U.S. PIRG. “The Government By the People Act would reduce Congress’ dependence on big money campaign donors and help ordinary citizens get their voice heard.”
A recent report by U.S. PIRG and Demos found that the current post-Citizens United election system allows large donors to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens. In fact, in 2012 the top 32 donors to Super PACs spent as much money as every single small donation to Obama and Romney combined, equaling the gifts of over 3.7 million Americans.
The Government By the People Act would change the way our elections are financed through a combination of matching funds for small donations, and a “My Voice” tax credit. Instead of relying on Wall Street executives or lobbyists, participating candidates would rely on the ones the founding fathers intended them to represent: we the people. Here’s how it would work:
People would be encouraged to give small contributions through two parts of the proposal: first, contributions of under $150 would be amplified on a six-to-one basis by a newly-created “Freedom from Influence Fund.” No large contributions would be matched at all.
Second, the first $25 dollars people contribute would qualify for a “My Voice” refundable tax credit.
“The American people deserve a political system that makes sure all of our voices are heard, not just special interests that can afford to spend the most,” said Boorboor. “This legislation will help to make that a reality.”
Learn more about the Government By the People Act at: www.ofby.us
U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), stands up to powerful special interests on behalf of the American public, working to win concrete results for our health and our well-being. With a strong network of researchers, advocates, organizers and students in state capitols across the country, we take on the special interests on issues, such as product safety,political corruption, prescription drugs and voting rights,where these interests stand in the way of reform and progress.
Premiums for health plans on new state exchanges are comparable to and in some cases lower than those being offered by employers with similar levels of coverage, according to a study released Thursday by PricewaterhouseCooper s Health Research Institute.
HRI analyzed the average premium costs for a working population nationally in the public exchanges, and calculated that the median 2014 premium for a plan with coverage similar to that of the average employer-sponsored plan was $5,844. By comparison, the average employer premium for a single worker was $6,119, a difference of 4%. The premiums do not include subsidies.
The ACA allows for consumers to shop on its 51 new state exchanges within four plan levels; these include bronze, which pays 60% of healthcare costs; silver, which covers 70%; gold, which covers 80%; and platinum, which covers 90% of the bill.
Currently, employer-sponsored health plans cover about 85% of healthcare costs, with the remaining costs being charged to employees, the PwC study states.
The EndPartisanship.org coalition today filed suit in the U.S. District Court in Newark,challenging the constitutionality of partisan primary elections.
Coffee Party USA's insight:
The idea of open primaries raises some interesting questions.
Should people who are not members of a party be entitled to vote in primaries to elect candidates chosen from a party?
If public funds were taken out of the equation, would that satisfy the issue and allow the "private clubs" to close their primaries to anyone who is not a member of the party? Would eliminating public funds be a "privatizing" of the electoral process? What are the pros and cons of doing so?
Finally, if so few eligible voters go to the polls for primaries and general elections now, would opening primaries change that behavior if the candidates and the parties don't fundamentally change themselves?
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and "fast track" trade authority are generating heated debate. TPP would expand on terms first established in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and extend them to additional countries. This has placed NAFTA’s 20-year record under the spotlight.
Unfortunately, former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) misconstrued the facts of NAFTA’s legacy in his February 20 op-ed in The Hill, “Trade Pacts Are a Tonic for the Economy.”
And Daschle’s assertion that the historic rise in U.S. income inequality “has [little] to do with trade agreements” ignores the broad academic consensus that the current model of trade has contributed significantly to the widening income gap. The only debate among economists has been the degree of the effect.
A recent Economic Policy Institute study estimates that unbalanced trade was responsible for more than 90 percent of the rise in U.S. wage inequality between 1995 and 2011. That period was marked by NAFTA and similar pacts that have incentivized the offshoring of decently-paid U.S. jobs and forced Americans to compete with low-wage workers abroad. As hundreds of thousands of trade-displaced manufacturing workers have joined the glut of Americans competing for lower-paid, non-offshoreable service-sector jobs, real wages have fallen and income inequality has risen. [MORE]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Supreme Court oral argument was disrupted on Wednesday by a rare outburst from a protester who assailed a 2010 ruling on campaign finance.The man interrupted proceedings
Coffee Party USA's insight:
WASHINGTON Wed Feb 26, 2014 2:14pm EST
(Reuters) - A U.S. Supreme Court oral argument was disrupted on Wednesday by a rare outburst from a protester who assailed a 2010 ruling on campaign finance.
The man interrupted proceedings in the patent case by shouting slogans like "Money is not speech," "Corporations are not people" and "Overturn Citizens United."
The man, identified as Noah Newkirk of Los Angeles, California, was protesting the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling which cleared the way for increased independent corporate and union spending during federal elections.
In a must-read essay, former GOP congressional analyst Mike Lofgren analyzes America's "Deep State," in which elected and unelected figures collude to serve powerful vested interests.
Coffee Party USA's insight:
One of the most profound, insightful, and erudite articles I have had the privilege and good fortune to read and curate for Coffee Party News. Thank you, Margaret Reeve Panahi, for making this important contribution. <Greg>
February 21, 2014
by Mike Lofgren
There is the visible government situated around the Mall in Washington, and then there is another, more shadowy, more indefinable government that is not explained in Civics 101 or observable to tourists at the White House or the Capitol. The former is traditional Washington partisan politics: the tip of the iceberg that a public watching C-SPAN sees daily and which is theoretically controllable via elections. The subsurface part of the iceberg I shall call the Deep State, which operates according to its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power.
The I.R.S. should ignore protests on the right and left and crack down on abuse of the tax code
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD of the New York Times
In November, when the Internal Revenue Service finally stirred itself to propose a modest crackdown on the abuse of the tax code by political groups, it was immediately attacked by tax-exempt nonprofit groups on the right. That wasn’t too surprising; secret donations from conservatives to these groups are the principal reason American politics is now dominated by those with huge bank accounts.
But now liberal tax-exempt groups are also raising their voice in protest over the I.R.S.’s plans, afraid that they will be caught in the same crackdown, and will be unable to engage in political activity. The best thing the I.R.S. can do is to ignore both sides and proceed swiftly ahead, making its proposed rules even stronger to squeeze the influence of money out of politics.
Michael Wear is senior vice president of Values Partnerships. He previously led faith outreach for President Obama’s 2012 campaign and served in the White House faith-based initiative.
"Looking back, 2013 is likely to be remembered as the final collapse of the old, confrontational Religious Right in favor of a less partisan, more pragmatic approach."
"For Christians, this research confirmed what they were experiencing in their own lives: an open antagonism in the culture toward Christian ideas and doctrine; a sudden change in conversations when they mentioned their faith; the assumption of their politics that came with a knowledge of their faith; the sudden need to make clear that they were "not that kind of Christian." Pastors increasingly found that a partisan politics was pushing people away from faith and causing tension among those in their churches. Things had to change."
As we started the 185-mile trek from Dixville Notch to Nashua, there were certain things that I knew.
I knew that our system of government had become corrupt. That the system—not necessarily any individuals, but all the individuals together—had been contorted into a shape that makes it impossible for government to address even the most fundamental and important issues sensibly.
I knew this in the way that any academic knows anything: I had studied it, across history and in its current form. I had seen numbers that captured its contours. I had spoken to people who had participated in it, both now and before it had metastasized. I knew it and believed it, and believed passionately that we have to find a way to bring more people into a movement to end it.
This week saw another breaking news event, the DC Navy Yard shooting, misreported by the press. Usually, we take time to point out how the media got it wrong and how they can do better next time.
Coffee Party USA's insight:
While this story is from Sept of 2013, the advice it offers for how we should understand and "consume" fast-breaking news is timeless.
BREAKING NEWS CONSUMER’S HANDBOOK
1. In the immediate aftermath, news outlets will get it wrong. 2. Don't trust anonymous sources. 3. Don't trust stories that cite another news outlet as the source of the information. 4. There's almost never a second shooter. 5. Pay attention to the language the media uses. • “We are getting reports”… could mean anything. • “We are seeking confirmation”… means they don’t have it. • “[News outlet] has learned”… means it has a scoop or is going out on limb. 6. Look for news outlets close to the incident. 7. Compare multiple sources. 8. Big news brings out the fakers. And photoshoppers. 9. Beware reflexive retweeting. Some of this is on you.
American democracy is based upon the fundamental principle of one person, one vote—the simple notion that we are all equal before the law and should have an equal say over the government decisions that affect our lives.
Coffee Party USA's insight:
February 5, 2014
American democracy is based upon the fundamental principle of one person, one vote—the simple notion that we are all equal before the law and should have an equal say over the government decisions that affect our lives. But unfortunately our system often more closely resembles one dollar, one vote as wealthy donors enjoy vastly disproportionate influence over who runs for office, who wins elections, and what issues make it onto the agenda in Washington, DC. This threatens the integrity and legitimacy of our democracy, as ordinary citizens come to the justified conclusion that the system is rigged and their voices are being drowned out in a sea of campaign cash.
We must reduce the undue influence of wealthy donors by amplifying the voices of all Americans. The Government By the People Act increases the power of the small contributions that ordinary citizens can afford to give, providing incentives for congressional candidates to reach out to average constituents, not just dial for dollars from wealthy donors. It’s the single best policy we can immediately enact to democratize the influence of money in politics. Though the Supreme Court, in a long line of cases from Buckley v. Valeo to Citizens United v. FEC, has tied the People’s hands, blocking us from enforcing common-sense limits on the use of big money in politics, we remain free to tackle the problem from the other side of the equation—providing incentives to bring more small donors into the system.
The Government By the People Act has four key provisions:
Creates the Freedom from Influence Fund to match contributions of up to $150 to participating candidates 6-to-1 or more;
Provides a $25 refundable tax credit for small contributions;
Provides enhanced matching funds in the final 60 days of a general election for candidates in high-cost races (because of an onslaught of outside spending, for example); and
Creates People PACs, or small donor committees, that aggregate the voices and power of ordinary citizens rather than wealthy donors (as traditional PACs tend to do).
We need a government of, by, and for the people, not bought and paid for by wealthy donors. This proposal puts the U.S. Congress back in the hands of ordinary Americans.
It's time for the Federal Communications Commission to correct its past mistakes and get tough on broadband providers, a retired FCC commissioner says.
Michael Copps, an FCC commissioner from 2001 to 2011 (and acting chairman for several months in 2009), is proof that not every former FCC member becomes a lobbyist for the industries the commission regulates. The only commission member to vote against allowing the Comcast/NBC Universal merger, Copps is now a self-described public interest advocate who leads the Media and Democracy Reform Initiative at Common Cause.