Answering some myths about Sarah Palin
1. Palin cost McCain the 2008 election.
2. Resigning as governor was rash.
3. Palin and the tea party are destroying the GOP.
4. Palin is extreme.
5. Palin is unelectable.
1. Palin cost McCain the 2008 election.
2. Resigning as governor was rash.
3. Palin and the tea party are destroying the GOP.
4. Palin is extreme.
5. Palin is unelectable.
An outright repeal is impossible, as Mr Obama could simply veto any such bill. So Republicans are planning instead a strategy of “defunding” the new health law. Even Tom Daschle, a prominent Democratic former senator, thinks this is the Republicans’ best weapon. In “Getting It Done”, a new book published this week, he declares “It would be all too easy to kill the reform effort not by repealing it, but by starving it.” The bill will need over $100 billion in around 100 new authorisations over the next decade, all of which will require approval from Congress. Besides that, the Republicans could attach provisions to vital bills, such as the budget, that would forbid federal workers (say, at the Internal Revenue Service) from implementing the law. Congressman Paul Ryan, an influential Republican from Wisconsin, insists that “We’ll try every angle, from defunding to budget reconciliation.”
Another strategy is to challenge the unpopular “individual mandate”, which requires everyone to buy health insurance. Coalitions of states are pursuing several different lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of this mandate. A federal judge in Michigan ruled in favour of the Obama administration earlier this month in one of the suits, but the matter is likely to be fought all the way to the Supreme Court.
The most promising mode of attack for the right may be state-led obstructionism. Republican leaders in many states, most notably Utah and Alaska, have suggested they will simply not implement Obamacare. Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota has ordered state officials not to co-operate with the reforms, even turning down grant money. He insists states have the right to decide whether they want to implement the laws slowly or quickly. He vows to fight the “federal power grab” until a repeal bill can be signed in 2013 by a new Republican president—perhaps, he hopes, even himself. . . .
“The danger is that the critics of reform will kill it before it ever has a chance to take hold,” former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle writes of the health reform law in his new book, “Getting It Done,” out Tuesday.
“Opponents in state government could undermine it at every turn, or simply say they cannot do what the law requires,” Daschle adds. . . .
The vast majority of states have applied for initial rounds of grants, but several have remained notably obstinate.
Alaska and Minnesota were the only states not to apply for health exchange planning grants. Three others — Wyoming, Iowa and Georgia — joined them in not pursuing an additional $1 million grant for rate reviews, released in the summer.
Most recently, Utah has become active in opposing more federal regulation of insurance markets. With Massachusetts, Utah is one of the few states that already operate a health exchange. State officials fear that new regulations could diverge greatly from the marketplace they know and like. In a letter last week, Republican Gov. Gary Herbert admonished U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to “resist the temptation to expand federal authority over state exchanges.” . . .
Last month, executives from two music-industry trade groups, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), asked Google if it could provide a means to help them track down pirated material more efficiently. Typically, copyright owners are responsible for finding pirated links and alerting Google, which is required by law to quickly remove the links.
But Google's response raised eyebrows at some of the labels.
James Pond, a Google manager, wrote in a letter dated September 20, that Google would be happy to help--for a price, according to a source who had seen letter. . . .
A music industry source estimated that such charges could add up to several million dollars a year.
Google confirmed the authenticity of the letter. A representative said Google fully complies with copyright law and wanted to make it clear that the company does not charge to remove links to pirated material.
"As always, Google honors valid legal removal requests," the representative said in an e-mail to CNET. "We don't charge for removals and have no plans to. We have a great relationship with the music industry and have worked consistently with them to advance their interests through services like YouTube ContentID, our music search feature, and our developer tools."
According to one music industry insider, few in the music industry will find comfort knowing Google isn't charging them to take down pirated links but does charge them to search for the links.
Does Google bankroll piracy?
Google's often contentious relationship with the entertainment industry doesn't end with the music business. There's plenty of grumbling going on in Hollywood about ads from Google and other online services found at numerous pirate sites. . . . . .
"From my point of view, Google fences stolen goods," said Ellen Seidler, an independent filmmaker, who last month told CNET that piracy cost her money when her small-budget film, "And Then Came Lola," was distributed illegally online. "These [pirate] sites...want to drive traffic to their site and they do it by pirating films. They are paid for the ads on their site by Google and others. What we need to do is force Google to be more vigilant in preventing filmmakers from getting ripped off." . . .
The Obama administration said Friday the federal deficit hit a near-record $1.3 trillion for the just-completed budget year.
That means the government had to borrow 37 cents out of every dollar it spent as tax revenues continued to lag while spending on food stamps and unemployment benefits went up as joblessness neared double-digit levels in a struggling economy.
While expected, the eye-popping deficit numbers provide Republican critics of President Barack Obama's fiscal stewardship with fresh ammunition less than three weeks ahead of the midterm congressional elections. The deficit was $122 billion less than last year, a modest improvement. . . .
Outside of the bailout, the federal budget went up by 9 percent in the 2010 budget year to $3.5 trillion, the Congressional Budget Office reported last week. Food stamp payments rose 27 percent as record numbers of people took advantage of the programs, while unemployment benefits rose 34 percent as Congress extended benefits for the long-term jobless. . . . .
Spending rolled in for the year that ended September 30 at $3.45 trillion, second only to 2009's $3.52 trillion in the record books.
Vice President Joe Biden said at a fundraiser Friday night that Republicans have "zero, zero, zero" credibility on reducing the deficit, and such talk from the GOP was "like making an arsonist the fire marshal." . . .
“These guys are not for real … They have zero, zero, zero credibility on deficits," he said. "The last guy to balance a budget was William Jefferson Clinton … These guys talking about deficits is like making an arsonist the fire marshal.” . . .
Republican control of Congress, Democrat President
2001 +128.2 billion
Split control of Congress, Republican President
2002 -157.8 billion
2003 -377.6 billion
Republican control of Congress, Republican President
2004 -412.7 billion
2005 -318.3 billion
2006 -248.2 billion
2007 -160.7 billion
Democrat control of Congress, Republican President
2008 -458.6 billion
Democrat control of Congress, Republican and Democrat President signing spending bill
2009 -1.412.7 billion
The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics said the Democratic Party and candidates had raised a total of $1.25 billion so far for the election. The comparable GOP figure is $1.1 billion.
As many as 95 percent of Marines would be uncomfortable serving alongside openly gay troops, the retiring commandant of the Marine Corps told Fox News in an exclusive interview.
Gen. James Conway told Fox News' Jennifer Griffin that a majority of his men and women think a repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy barring gays from serving openly will be problematic, so he has to believe that, too.
"When we take a survey of our Marines, by and large, they say that they are concerned that it will cause potential problems with regard to their order and discipline -- that it will impact their sense of unit cohesion," Conway said.
Gen. Conway was the first member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to speak out against a repeal earlier this year after Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen publicly endorsed President Obama's desire to change the law.
Conway plans to retire Oct. 22 after 40 years of service with the Marines. . . . . And wartime, he said, is "probably not the time" to change the military's policy on gays. . . . .
Murdoch began by pointing out that News Corp.’s PAC gave more money to Democrats than Republicans, and then addressed the two, much larger donations directly from the company’s coffers to organizations aggressively campaigning against Democrats this election cycle.
“We believe it certainly is in the interest of the country, and the shareholders and the prosperity that there be a fair amount of change in Washington,” he said.
Others speaking on behalf of the foundation pressed Murdoch on the risks associated with such a large donation to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, considering the controversy around the organization in the news. Murdoch insisted “there are no scandals, there are only allegations” about the Chamber, . . .
The longer-run inflation projections in the SEP indicate that FOMC participants generally judge the mandate-consistent inflation rate to be about 2 percent or a bit below. In contrast, as I noted earlier, recent readings on underlying inflation have been approximately 1 percent. Thus, in effect, inflation is running at rates that are too low relative to the levels that the Committee judges to be most consistent with the Federal Reserve's dual mandate in the longer run. In particular, at current rates of inflation, the constraint imposed by the zero lower bound on nominal interest rates is too tight (the short-term real interest rate is too high, given the state of the economy), and the risk of deflation is higher than desirable. . . .
As of June, the longer-run unemployment projections in the SEP had a central tendency of about 5 to 5-1/4 percent--about 1/4 percentage point higher than a year earlier--and a couple of participants' projections were even higher at around 6 to 6-1/4 percent. The evolution of these projections and the diversity of views reflect the characteristics that I noted earlier: The sustainable rate of unemployment may vary over time, and estimates of its value are subject to considerable uncertainty. Nonetheless, with an actual unemployment rate of nearly 10 percent, unemployment is clearly too high relative to estimates of its sustainable rate. Moreover, with output growth over the next year expected to be only modestly above its longer-term trend, high unemployment is currently forecast to persist for some time. . . ..
The dollar tumbled against most major currencies on Thursday, prompting warnings that the weakness of the world’s reserve currency could destabilise the global economy and push other countries into retaliatory devaluations to underwrite their exports.
Increasing expectations the Federal Reserve will pump more money into the US economy next month under a policy known as quantitative easing sent the dollar to new lows against the Chinese renminbi, Swiss franc and Australian dollar. It dropped to a 15-year low against the yen and an eight-month low against the euro. . . . .
Mr. Bernanke broke no new ground in explaining why he believes inflation at less than 2% is too low and why the Fed must encourage greater inflation to reduce the 9.6% jobless rate. "Inflation is running at rates that are too low [his emphasis] relative to the levels that the [Fed Open Market] Committee judges to be most consistent with the Federal Reserve's dual mandate in the longer run," he said. That dual mandate is to maintain stable prices and low unemployment, and Mr. Bernanke's message couldn't be clearer that cutting the U.S. jobless rate is now Job One at the Fed.
We were more struck by what Mr. Bernanke didn't say. In a nearly 4,000-word speech about inflation, the Fed chief never once mentioned the value of the dollar. He never mentioned exchange rates, despite the turmoil in world currency markets as the dollar has fallen in anticipation of further Fed easing. . . . .
Democrats talk a good game about small business, but actions speak louder than words. Obama and the Democrats are pushing a tax increase that would hit 50 percent of small enterprise income and their massive health-care law saddles business with a flood of tax-filing paperwork for expenditures as low as $601.
Such government meddling in the economy and the threat of more have injected so much uncertainty into economic planning that businesses small and large are hesitant to invest until they get a clearer picture of the tax and regulatory environment. Democratic policies haven't reduced unemployment. Their stimulus did more to protect government jobs than lay the foundation for robust private-sector job creation.
It's no wonder that an alarmed business community is pushing back this election cycle, funneling campaign contributions to candidates and independent groups rallying around a pro-growth and jobs-creation agenda.
The White House response has been again to demonize its opponents. Obama accused the U.S. Chamber of Commerce of using foreign money to fund campaign activities -- a criminal act. The basis for this accusation? An unsubstantiated allegation on a left-wing blog. Recall how Democrats lambasted Republicans for taking their lead from Rush Limbaugh? Well, here's the president of the United States passing along an outrageous, unfounded bit of Internet character assassination. . . .
First lady Michelle Obama appears to have violated Illinois law -- when she engaged in political discussion at a polling place!
The drama began after Mrs. Obama stopped off at the Martin Luther King Center on the south side of Chicago to cast an early vote.
After finishing at the machine, Obama went back to the desk and handed in her voting key.
She let voters including electrician Dennis Campbell, 56, take some photos.
"She was telling me how important it was to vote to keep her husband's agenda going," Campbell said.
According to a pool reporter from the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES at the scene, the conversation took place INSIDE the voting center, not far from the booths.
Illinois state law -- Sec. 17-29 (a) -- states: "No judge of election, pollwatcher, or other person shall, at any primary or election, do any electioneering or soliciting of votes or engage in any political discussion within any polling place [or] within 100 feet of any polling place."
A top Ilinois State Board of Elections official tells the DRUDGE REPORT that Mrs. Obama -- a Harvard-educated lawyer -- may have simply been ignorant of the law and thus violated it unintentionally.
"You kind of have to drop the standard for the first lady, right?" the official explained late Thursday. "I mean, she's pretty well liked and probably doesn't know what she's doing."
WHITE HOUSE DEFENDS ELECTIONEERING
When questioned about the brazen nature of Mrs. Obama's campaigning, press secretary Robert Gibbs defended the action.
"I don't think it would be much to imagine, the First Lady might support her husband's agenda," Gibbs smiled.
Remarks about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., during a 2003 committee hearing have become a campaign issue in 2010.
Frank said then that the two government enterprises were strong enough to withstand any threats -- and that if they did get into trouble they would not get a government bailout. Sean Bielat, the Republican seeking Frank's seat, has a clip from 2003 on his campaign Web site, "Retire Barney," and Frank has been struggling to explain himself, The Boston Globe reports.
Frank acknowledges what he said in 2003 was "wrong on both counts." He said he was defending Fannie and Freddie because he was afraid the Bush administration wanted to shut them down. . . .
Has any congressman ever wreaked so much economic damage on his nation?
Even Frank admits that he had “ideological blinders” about Freddie/Fannie. His push to put the taxpayer on the hook for high-risk loans to special-interest borrowers was done in the name of liberal politics, not economic rationality.
He now claims he just didn’t know any better. But everybody knew better in the summer of 2008 when Frank claimed “Freddie and Fannie are not in danger.”
Two months later they were bankrupt.
Here’s just one frightening phrase from a memo in Frank’s congressional committee: Fannie and Freddie participated in transactions “that would not normally be considered to be economically viable.”
“Not considered economically viable” could be Frank’s campaign motto. From opposing Reaganomics to opposing welfare reform to opposing the Bush tax cuts, Frank’s been wrong on nearly every major issue since taking office in 1980.
Then there’s Frank’s (ahem) winning personality. Voters looking for a shaken hand or a well-kissed baby shouldn’t count on Barney. He’s branded himself as the “congressman most likely to scream at you as if he forgot to take his meds.”
Many voters remember Frank insulting a Lyndon LaRouche fan at a town hall (“Talking to you is like talking to a dining room table!”). But not long after he attacked the intelligence of a Harvard law student for asking legitimate questions about Frank’s role in the financial meltdown.
Cruel, cutting and cranky - is there really a political market for this? . . . .
the percentage trusting Washington to handle domestic problems, now at a record-low 46%.
Trust in the government's handling of domestic matters has generally tracked below public trust on international matters but has mostly followed the same trajectory. In the last several years as the economy has struggled, fewer than half of Americans have trusted the government's handling of domestic problems (with only one exception).
The vast majority of Democrats today have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the federal government on both policy dimensions, no doubt because the Democrats continue to control the White House and both houses of Congress. Accordingly, there has been little change in Democrats' views over the past year. A slight majority of independents express confidence in the government on international problems, while 40% have confidence in the government on domestic problems, also similar to 2009 in each case. By contrast, fewer than 4 in 10 Republicans today are confident in the government on either issue, with a 12 percentage-point drop since 2009 in their confidence on international problems. . . .
The White House wants to have it both ways on education reform. This week, President Obama hosted an Oval Office meeting with the young students featured in the popular education reform documentary "Waiting for Superman." The film follows five young people as they struggle to escape failing public schools by winning a lottery for seats in better-performing charter schools. Politics Daily reported that the meeting "was, perhaps, tacit approval of the film's message," which "lays much of the blame for the country's underperforming schools squarely on teachers."
But just two days after the White House meeting came news that Michelle Rhee is resigning as head of Washington D.C.'s public school system. For three years, Ms. Rhee has shaken up the dysfunctional system by firing incompetent teachers, closing failing schools and forcing a more performance-based work contract on local teacher's unions. The union didn't forget, and when D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, who had appointed Ms. Rhee, ran for re-election this year, they poured over $1 million into the race to defeat him. Last month, Mr. Fenty narrowly lost the Democratic primary to Vincent Gray, a union-backed candidate, making Ms. Rhee's departure a fait accompli.
Though President Obama had spoken highly of Ms. Rhee and Mr. Fenty, who was one of his earliest supporters in 2008, the president was notably AWOL while Mr. Fenty was fighting for his political life. Despite public pleas from Mr. Fenty, Mr. Obama didn't even offer his endorsement much less campaign for his friend. Andrew Rotherham, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, said the decision was "a pretty deliberate move" by the Obama White House. "There was a calculation that they wouldn't get involved in the race" regardless of the high stakes for the nation's most visible effort to fix a moribund public school system.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs dismissed questions this week about whether President Obama had any second thoughts about his failure to support Mr. Fenty. "I don't think the president has any regrets about not getting involved in a mayoral race," he told Politics Daily. "The important work of Michelle Rhee and Arne Duncan and others has to continue, regardless of the outcome of elections." . . .
Since taking office President Obama and his team have been through a litany of Republican targets before the current crusade against Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Going back to the early weeks of the Obama administration, Power Play can detect a shifting and sometimes obscure demonology of the president's political foes. . . .
“It may be that regardless of what happens after this election, they feel more responsible either because they didn’t do as well as they anticipated, and so the strategy of just saying no to everything and sitting on the sidelines and throwing bombs didn’t work for them, or they did reasonably well, in which case the American people are going to be looking to them to offer serious proposals and work with me in a serious way.”
With the exception of core Obama Administration loyalists, most politically engaged elites have reached the same conclusions: the White House is in over its head, isolated, insular, arrogant and clueless about how to get along with or persuade members of Congress, the media, the business community or working-class voters. This view is held by Fox News pundits, executives and anchors at the major old-media outlets, reporters who cover the White House, Democratic and Republican congressional leaders and governors, many Democratic business people and lawyers who raised big money for Obama in 2008, and even some members of the Administration just beyond the inner circle. . . .
He let himself look too much like “the same old tax-and-spend liberal Democrat.” He realized too late that “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects” when it comes to public works. Perhaps he should not have proposed tax breaks as part of his stimulus and instead “let the Republicans insist on the tax cuts” so it could be seen as a bipartisan compromise. . . .
“we probably spent much more time trying to get the policy right than trying to get the politics right. There is probably a perverse pride in my administration — and I take responsibility for this; this was blowing from the top — that we were going to do the right thing, even if short-term it was unpopular. And I think anybody who’s occupied this office has to remember that success is determined by an intersection in policy and politics and that you can’t be neglecting of marketing and P.R. and public opinion.” . . .
But there is no doubt that we've been living beyond our means and we're going to have to make some adjustments. Now, what I've done throughout this campaign is to propose a net spending cut. I haven't made a promise about . . . . What I want to emphasize, though, is that I have been a strong proponent of pay-as- you-go. Every dollar that I've proposed, I've proposed an additional cut so that it matches. . . .
For the last couple of years, President Obama keeps claiming that the recession was the "worst economy since the Great Depression." But this is not correct. This is the worst "recovery" since the Great Depression. Why? Because the unemployment rate has remained at least at 9.5 percent for 14 months. Astoundingly, the unemployment rate during the 15 months of "recovery" averages over three full percentage points higher than the average unemployment rate during the recession. There is no comparable "recovery" on record since the Great Depression. . . .
Following Friday’s disappointing jobs report, market participants are now virtually certain that the Federal Reserve will announce that it will resume buying assets at the conclusion of its November meeting and do so in a sizeable way, according to an exclusive CNBC Fed Survey.
Nearly 93 percent of the 70 respondents, including economists, fund managers and traders, believe the Fed will boost the size of its portfolio, up from 69 percent in the survey two weeks ago. . . .
The dollar fell against the euro and yen on Monday after the world's top finance officials failed to reach a consensus on measures to head off what some see as a looming "currency war", analysts said.
The euro reached 1.40 dollars, while the US unit hit a fresh 15-year low against the yen amid growing expectation that the Federal Reserve will pump more money to bolster the struggling US economy, they added. . . . .
Chris Miller nearly doubled his $3,500 stock investment in a renewable-energy firm in 2008. It was a perfectly legal bet, but he's no ordinary investor.
Miller is the top energy-policy adviser to Nevada Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who helped pass legislation that wound up benefiting the firm.
Jim Manley, a spokesman for Reid's office, initially defended Miller's purchase of shares in the company, Energy Conversion Devices Inc. He said the aide had no influence over tax incentives for renewable-energy firms, and that other factors boosted the stock.
But on Sunday, Manley added: "Mr. Miller showed poor judgment and Senator Reid has made it very clear to Chris and all his staff that their actions must not only follow the law, but must meet the higher standards the public has a right to expect from elected officials and their staffs."
Miller isn't the only Congressional staffer making such stock bets. At least 72 aides on both sides of the aisle traded shares of companies that their bosses help oversee, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of more than 3,000 disclosure forms covering trading activity by Capitol Hill staffers for 2008 and 2009. . . .
A few lawmakers proposed a bill that would prevent members and employees of Congress from trading securities based on nonpublic information they obtain. The legislation has languished since 2006. . . .
The White House has hesitated to cast the midterm elections as a referendum on President Barack Obama, except when it comes to one key constituency: African-American voters.
As Obama has steadily increased his outreach to African American voters over the past month. With interviews and campaign stops targeted at the black community – “our community,” as the president likes to say – he has sent a clear signal that this election is about him and his record.
“Two years ago you defied the conventional wisdom in Washington,” Obama told thousands of screaming supporters Sunday at a campaign rally in a predominantly black area of Philadelphia. “They said, ‘No you can’t.’”
“’No you can’t elect a skinny guy with a funny game to the presidency of the United States,’” he added. “What’d you say?”
“Yes we can!” the crowd, waving “VOTE 2010” signs featuring the Obama 2008 campaign logo, replied.
His voice hoarse, the president pleaded with the Philadelphia audience to defy Washington conventional wisdom again. Head to your beauty shops and your barber shops, and spread the word, he said. But most of all, he said, head to the polls three weeks from now, even though he is not on the ticket.
“They think, ‘Oh Obama’s name’s not on the ballot, maybe they’re not going to turn out,” he said. “You’ve got to prove them wrong.”
The message echoed the one Obama delivered last week at a historically black college in Maryland. “Don’t make me look bad, now,” he said, urging the mostly African-American audience to vote. . . . .
When I first joined the American Physical Society sixty-seven years ago it was much smaller, much gentler, and as yet uncorrupted by the money flood (a threat against which Dwight Eisenhower warned a half-century ago). Indeed, the choice of physics as a profession was then a guarantor of a life of poverty and abstinence---it was World War II that changed all that. The prospect of worldly gain drove few physicists. As recently as thirty-five years ago, when I chaired the first APS study of a contentious social/scientific issue, The Reactor Safety Study, though there were zealots aplenty on the outside there was no hint of inordinate pressure on us as physicists. We were therefore able to produce what I believe was and is an honest appraisal of the situation at that time. We were further enabled by the presence of an oversight committee consisting of Pief Panofsky, Vicki Weisskopf, and Hans Bethe, all towering physicists beyond reproach. I was proud of what we did in a charged atmosphere. In the end the oversight committee, in its report to the APS President, noted the complete independence in which we did the job, and predicted that the report would be attacked from both sides. What greater tribute could there be? . . .
It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford's book organizes the facts very well.) I don't believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist. . . .
Dissenting physicists urged members to contact APS biggies, who reviewed input from members. According to APS, some "63 percent of respondents supported the existing statement with little or no change, while 37 percent said they opposed the current statement and wanted either no statement or the alternate statement adopted."
Interesting. In his book, "Earth in the Balance," Al Gore asserted that 98 percent of scientists believe in global warming. Just last week, a Senate staffer told me that 99 percent of scientists share Gores' take. Then how could it be at more than a third of APS respondents aren't on board with the doomsday scenario -- even though all the money and prestige and political pressure are on the global-warming alarmist side? . . .
“Just this week, we learned that one of the largest groups paying for these ads regularly takes in money from foreign corporations,” Mr. Obama said. “So groups that receive foreign money are spending huge sums to influence American elections.”
But a closer examination shows that there is little evidence that what the chamber does in collecting overseas dues is improper or even unusual, according to both liberal and conservative election-law lawyers and campaign finance documents. . . .
it’s well documented that the 2008 Obama campaign did not put in place address verification software that would have routinely prevented most foreign donations. In effect they were encouraging donations by foreign nationals. Here’s the Washington Post on this back in October 2008: "Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign is allowing donors to use largely untraceable prepaid credit cards that could potentially be used to evade limits on how much an individual is legally allowed to give or to mask a contributor’s identity, campaign officials confirmed. Faced with a huge influx of donations over the Internet, the campaign has also chosen not to use basic security measures to prevent potentially illegal or anonymous contributions from flowing into its accounts, aides acknowledged.” . . .
Obama Scales Back Campaign Finance Criticism After Claims Decried as 'Baseless'
President Obama on Sunday scaled back his claim that Republicans are taking foreign money for their campaigns, using slightly more ambiguous language at a rally in Philadelphia after GOP strategists warned Democrats against telling "baseless" lies to win votes.
Democrats had been directing their criticism at the Chamber of Commerce and other GOP-supporting groups. But after the latest Democratic National Committee ad outright claimed "it appears they're even taking secret foreign money to influence our elections," White House senior adviser David Axelrod acknowledged that "no one knows" where the money is coming from.
Obama, speaking at a Philadelphia rally Sunday, hammered the campaign finance theme but left open the question of whether anybody is violating U.S. law by using foreign money.
"There's no question the other side sees a chance to get back in the driver's seat," Obama said. "They are being helped along this year by special interest groups that are spending unlimited amounts of money on attack ads ... just attacking people without ever disclosing who's behind all these attack ads. You don't know. It could be the oil industry. It could be the insurance industry. It could even be foreign-owned corporations. You don't know because they don't have to disclose."
The president had left less wiggle room during a rally in Maryland Thursday, when he referenced the Chamber of Commerce, saying it was paying for ads against Democrats while taking money from "foreign corporations." . . .
Democrats enter the homestretch of the 2010 elections complaining vocally about the flood of Republican money, much of it anonymous, pounding their candidates.
But as the White House points the finger at outside Republican groups, many Democrats point the finger back at the White House, which dismantled the Democratic Party's own outside infrastructure in 2008 and never tried to rebuild it.
The blame certainly isn't President Barack Obama's alone. The rich Democrats who would traditionally give to such groups are — like Democrats at large — demoralized, particularly by the defeat of climate change legislation. They're disheartened by the conservative revival. And they're resigned to a Republican victory in November.
But it's also easy to underestimate the president's ability to increase the flow of cash to Democrat-friendly groups had he chosen to do so. Instead, Obama's choice has been unilateral disarmament.
To the White House, that posture is a mark of the purity of the presidential brand and of Obama's consistency. "Throughout his 2008 campaign, the president vowed to change business as usual in Washington and take on some of the tough challenges that politicians in Washington had put off for too long," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. "We're pleased to have made so much progress on these priorities — from Wall Street reform to health care reform — while staying true to the values and vision that earned the enthusiastic support of so many Democrats and Republicans during the campaign."
But to some of its more practical-minded allies, the White House is protecting the brand at a very real cost to the party. . . .
He was a registered lobbyist from 1999 through 2005, and his sole client was Fannie Mae. ... His brother is Michael C. Donilon, a counselor to Vice President Joseph R. Biden. His wife, Cathy Russell, is Jill Biden's chief of staff. . . .