Tag Archives: John Bresnahan

Campaign Finance Reform Doesn’t Kill People, People Kill People

John Bresnahan at Politico:

House Democrats have offered to exempt the National Rifle Association from a sweeping campaign-finance bill, removing a major obstacle in the push to roll back the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.

The NRA had objected to some of the strict financial disclosure provisions that Democrats have proposed for corporations and politically active nonprofits and that had kept moderate, pro-gun Democrats from backing the legislation.

But if the NRA signs off on the deal, the bill could come to the House floor as early as this week. The NRA said it would not comment until specific legislative language is revealed.

An NRA official also noted that the group would not be supporting the bill but would not actively oppose it if the deal with the Democratic leadership holds up.

The legislation in question is designed to restore more campaign finance rules in the wake of last year’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, which removed prohibitions on corporations and unions running TV ads opposing or backing candidates in the run-up to an election.

Jay Newton-Small at Swampland at Time:

The new legislation, which could come to the floor as early as this week, had been hung up over NRA objections. The compromise would exempt organizations with more than one million members that are active in all 50 states and raise 15% of their funds or less from corporations. In other words, they’re going to regulate all the little guys, but not the NRA or the biggest players. Seems, er, effective.

Josh Harkinson at Mother Jones:

The deal falls short of what campaign finance watchdogs wanted, but would probably be a net gain for Democrats. According to Politico:

The new agreement would exempt organizations that have over one million members, have been in existence for more than 10 years, have members in all 50 states, and raise 15 percent or less of their funds from corporations, from the disclosure requirements.

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The deal with the NRA smoothes the road for the bill’s passage in the House, where pro-gun Democrats had feared pissing off the powerful group. But it would still face hurdles in the senate, where it could face major procedural roadblocks from Republicans.

Aaron Weiner at Washington Independent:

Two weeks ago, we ran a piece on lobbying efforts to derail the DISCLOSE Act, which would roll back the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision by forcing companies that finance campaign ads to issue disclosure messages. One of the main opponents of the measure was the National Rifle Association, which naturally didn’t want to tack a “we’re the NRA, and we approve this message” onto every TV spot it funded.

Well, it seems the NRA has gotten its way

John Samples at Cato:

I wonder what principle of campaign finance regulation justifies this exemption? Earlier the authors of DISCLOSE said the American people deserve to know who is trying to influence elections. Now it would seem that voters only need information about relatively small, young, geographically-confined organizations that receive more than 15 percent of their money from corporations.

There is no principle at stake here. The NRA had enough support to stop the DISCLOSE Act. House leaders had to compromise by cutting the NRA a deal, a special exemption from the proposed law. The deal does show, if nothing else, that House Democrats are really worried about new money entering the fall campaign. They are willing to go a long way — even as far as helping the NRA — to make sure other speech funded by businesses and groups is not heard.

Finally, imagine you are a member of a group not exempted from DISCLOSE. You have been treated unequally by Congress.  The courts have said Congress can treat you unequally if they show that this exemption  for the NRA has a rational relationship to an important government purpose.  How does exempting older, bigger, more widespread groups with less than fifteen percent corporate funding help Americans cast an informed vote?  Put another way, if the NRA deserves an exemption, doesn’t everyone?

Erick Erickson at Redstate:

There are few organizations purportedly on the side of freedom that aggravate me more than the National Rifle Association.

In fact, these days I cringe when I see good conservatives with their lifetime member sticker from the NRA on the back of their cars. I support Gun Owners of America, which is a consistent and uncompromising defender of the second amendment, not a weak little girl of an organization protecting itself while throwing everyone else under the bus.

But that’s what the National Rifle Association is doing. You and I are willing to stand together because we know we either stand together or hang separately. The NRA legislative strategy in the past few years has been to hang everybody else so they can be the last man standing — more interested in maintaining the veneer of bipartisanship than actually standing up for the second amendment.


So if you are a small organization that just started up to defend freedom, you are screwed. But if you’ve been collecting a large file of members for decades off the image of Charlton Heston while repeated screwing conservatives, you’ll be safe.

This is just the NRA not wanting competition for itself. If they were really committed to freedom, let alone the second amendment, they should be encouraging more freedom loving, second amendment loving organizations to rise and fight. Instead, they are collaborating with the left to shut out competition.

Remember, the NRA had to be cajoled into opposing Sotomayor.

The NRA refused to oppose the most anti-gun Attorney General nomination in American history.

The NRA supported Dede Scozzafava and it attacked Marco Rubio.

Now the NRA is endorsing the Democrat in Ohio against John Kasich while collaborating with the Democrats on restricting the freedom of speech.

Remember, the NRA also opposed taking the Heller case to the Supreme Court because it was too scared of what might happen.

Gun Owners of America never compromises on the Second Amendment.

The one bit of good news here is that Mitch McConnell is a serious first amendment advocate and while I’ve been open with my criticisms of him, he and I typically stand shoulder to shoulder on this issue and I hope he’ll kill it off in the Senate.

Hans A. von Spakovsky at The Corner:

So, the NRA may end up providing the lobbying grease that allows this noxious and partisan piece of legislation to slide through the House, something that I seriously doubt most of the individual members of the NRA (who are strong believers in the First Amendment as well as the Second) would agree with.

UPDATE: Bill Scher and Matt Lewis at Bloggingheads

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Filed under Guns, Legislation Pending, The Constitution

The Mess That Is Massa

John Bresnahan at Politico:

He’s spent only 431 days in Congress, has never seen any of his bills pass out of subcommittee and was best known for voting against major pieces of legislation because they weren’t liberal enough for him — at least until he was accused of sexually harassing a male staffer.

Meet Eric Massa, conservative media hero.

The New York Democrat’s weekend radio rant against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has his star rising on the right even as he resigns from Congress under an ethical cloud.

Rush Limbaugh vowed to make a “national story” out of Massa’s claims that Democrats orchestrated his downfall because he voted no on health care reform — adding that Massa is “going to have so much support from people.”

Matt Drudge led his site for much of the day Monday with all-caps links to POLITICO’s coverage of Massa’s statements: “RAHM ‘WOULD SELL HIS OWN MOTHER,’ ‘SON OF THE DEVIL’S SPAWN.’”

And Glenn Beck took to Twitter to announce that he’d have Massa on his show for “the full hour” Tuesday because “all Americans need to hear him.”

Michelle Malkin:

Don’t trust Democrat Rep. Eric Massa any further than you can throw him.

He’s been a progressive zealot and political opportunist his entire career. He’s claimed conspiracy before, is intimately bonded with the nutroots, and climbed the political ladder with backing from the odious, anti-war-hoaxer-embracing Gen. Wesley Clark. What Massa dismissively calls his “salty old sailor” talk should raise bright red flags about possible longstanding predatory behavior.

Creep factor: 10.

Look, I’m as happy as anyone to see Rahmbo and the Chicago Way slammed so openly by another Democrat. Naked shower fights? Blue-on-blue catfights?

Yep, it confirms everything I’ve been writing about the Obama Culture of Corruption the last two years.


He’s a sick, desperate pol looking to save his hide and distract from his smelly ethics problems and personal problems. This is not a hero, not a bona fide champion of reform and integrity in government. He’s the jerk who gave the figurative middle finger to his own constituents as he proclaimed last year that he would ram single-payer down their throats no matter what they thought

Jonah Goldberg at The Corner:

Maybe the facts will come to his rescue, but I just figured I’d get on the record about Eric Massa. I think he’s full of it. I don’t believe his story and I don’t believe that the ethics committee was going to railroad him for one “salty” comment at a wedding. I am sure that Rahm leaned on Massa, even in the shower. I’m sure that the White House has leaned on lots of people. But I don’t think Massa’s entirely self-serving story passes the smell test. So until I see some corroboration of his version, I’m not buying it.

Rich Lowry at The Corner

John McCormack at The Weekly Standard:

Reliable sources on Capitol Hill say the House ethics report on Eric Massa will be damning. Obamacare opponents, like Glenn Beck, might want to think twice before indulging Massa and letting this Democratic creep become the posterboy of Obamacare opposition.


So Massa’s staffer brought the issue to the attention of Steny Hoyer weeks ago, and the story leaked at a time when it didn’t help the Democrats’ health care vote one way or the other to have him in office. And Massa has changed his story–at first he said he was retiring because of health reasons, and then he resigned because he said Rahm Emanuel was out to get him. If the ethics charges are trumped up, why didn’t Massa stay in the House another month to vote against health care?

Perhaps the answer is that Massa thought he might scuttle the House ethics investigation if he resigned. Traditionally, when a member resigns, the House Ethics Committee loses jurisdiction over that member. But Massa’s case involves another congressional staffer, so the ethics committee will likely produce a report anyway, just as it did in Mark Foley’s scandal with congressional pages.

The full story should come out eventually. And when it does, some conservatives may regret embracing Eric Massa.

Moe Lane at Redstate:

Somebody is lying, here.  Either Massa, or Hoyer: and if it’s Hoyer, it doesn’t matter whether Massa was or was not sexually harassing his staff.  The House Majority Leader does not get to abuse the public trust by lying about what he did in a particular investigation.  It’s not so much this specific case as it is what happens in less public ones.  There’s a word for having two standards of behavior, based on how much media coverage one is expecting: it’s called ‘hypocrisy.’

Fortunately, this is easy to check: all Steny Hoyer has to do is release the documentation showing that he followed House procedures with regard to ethics investigations.  Presumably, that includes the kind of notification that he claims and Massa denies, and will stop this potentially disquieting development cold.  In fact, I’m kind of surprised that it’s not available yet; which is something that can be fixed, later…

By the way: did you know that Hoyer has a GOP challenger this year?  Charles LollarWe’ve talked: good guy, solid fiscal conservative, and if I lived just a little bit east of where I live now I’d be voting for him in both the primary and the general election.

UPDATE: Dana Milbank in WaPo

Joshua Green at The Atlantic

Tom Schaller

Chris Good at The Atlantic

Bill Scher and Matt Lewis in Bloggingheads

UPDATE #2: David Kurtz at TPM

Ed Morrissey



Filed under Political Figures

Cast Your Mind Back To 2007… Believe It Or Not, It Was The Year Of Rumi


You gotta believe TPM is all over this. And they are…

Zachary Roth at TPM:

Karl Rove claimed recently that he and his staff acted merely as a conduit for passing on concerns about David Iglesias. But it’s now clear that Rove’s office pushed from 2005 for Iglesias to be canned, and was intimately involved in the decision.

For instance, the documents show:
• In May 2005, Rove’s top aide, Scott Jennings, wrote in an email: “I would really like to move forward with getting rid of” Iglesias.

• The following month, Harriet Miers wrote in an email that the White House had made a “decision” to fire Iglesias.

• A “very agitated” Rove told Miers in a 2006 phone call that Iglesias was a “serious problem and he wanted something done about it,” according to Miers’s testimony.

• Jennings also claimed in an October 2006 email that Iglesias had been “shy about doing his job on Madrid.” That was a reference to Patricia Madrid, the Democratic challenger to Rep. Heather Wilson in 2006, and to the fact that Iglesias had declined to prosecute vote fraud claims, when doing so might have boosted Wilson’s chances.

The line about merely being a conduit doesn’t seem to be holding up

John Bresnahan at Politico:

The 6,000-plus pages of documents, which include transcripts from interviews with Rove and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers, make it clear that Rove and other White House aides were much more involved in the U.S. attorney firings than previously reported.

“After all the delay and despite all the obfuscation, lies and spin, this basic truth can no longer be denied: Karl Rove and his cohorts at the Bush White House were the driving force behind several of these firings, which were done for improper reasons,” Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) said in a statement.

Conyers said he has sent the material to a special prosecutor, who is investigating the firings on behalf of the Justice Department.

Rove’s attorney Robert Luskin, who was surprised by the release of the deposition and other documents, said there was “absolutely no proof at all” of political interference in the decision to remove certain U.S. attorneys.

Teddy Partridge at Firedoglake:

The Alberto Gonzales legacy:

“In their testimony in June and July 2009, both Miers and Rove failed to recall key incidents, according to the transcripts. Miers said she could not recall events almost 150 times in the course of her 10-hour deposition. Rove portrayed himself as receiving hundreds of e-mails a day, so that “asking me to remember replies is like asking me to remember a raindrop in a thunderstorm.””

This is how Alberto plans to recruit and mold young minds at Texas Tech? It appears to have worked already with Harriet and Karl.

More Roth:

It looks like Rick Lowry of National Review offered the White House his services in doing some positive P.R. on behalf of Rove protege Tim Griffin, who the administration had sought to sought to muscle into the U.S. attorney job in Arkansas as a replacement for the fired Bud Cummins.

In a January 2007 email, White House political director Sara Taylor wrote:

“Prior is going after Griffin. He’s made this his cause…. We need to find some folks to defend Tim and his credentials, not to mention our policy.Your thoughts? Rich Lowry offered to help Tim”

The best part? Taylor went on to ask: “Anyone better?”


Lowry didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about whether he felt dissed.

And liberal bloggers had some fun. Isaac Chotiner at TNR:

Shame on the Bush administration: This is no way to treat the help.

Doug J.

I don’t know whether to laugh at Lowry or call for a blogger ethics panel.

Spencer Ackerman:

National Review has now forfeited the right to criticize the journalistic ethics of anyone for as long as Lowry stays affiliated. There’s some hoes in that house.

And for the defense, Ramesh Ponnuru at The Corner:

I cannot count the number of times I’ve done it. I see a story, or a series of stories, in the newspaper and think something is, well, fishy. Something doesn’t compute, or doesn’t fit with what I know about a subject. Since I’m a conservative, and work for a conservative publication, and know a lot of conservatives, very often the story casts a right-leaning figure (or policy initiative) in a negative light and I suspect or know that there is more to the story. In these instances I will often contact the person (or person behind the initiative) and offer to help them get the other side of the story out. Sometimes the figure in question, grateful for the chance to respond to negative publicity, then cooperates with my work. I fill copy and get to think I’ve done a good deed, and sometimes the people I’ve defended give me a little scoop in the future. Shocking, all of this, I know.

It’s in this light I read this non-story, about Rich Lowry. Talking Points Memo is headlining it as “Email: Rich Lowry Offered To Help White House Spin Firings.” Seems to me the real spin is in the headline.

And in the conclusion. After reporting that Lowry “offered to help,” Zachary Roth writes:

The best part? Taylor went on to ask: “Anyone better?”


Lowry didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about whether he felt dissed.

Oh, come on. If one of the right-leaning people I contacted and offered to help said that a New York Times reporter or David Broder or Keith Olbermann was already well-informed about his side of the story and planned to air it, I would understand why that person would be “better” from the point of view of helping counteract the negative publicity. It wouldn’t bother me a bit. Note to Roth: Bitchiness is more entertaining when it’s smart.

UPDATE: Josh Marshall

UPDATE #2: David Corn at Politics Daily

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Filed under New Media, Political Figures

Mr. Conservative And The Aircraft Carrier


There’s this:

H.Con.Res.359 – Expressing the sense of Congress on naming an aircraft carrier as the U.S.S. Barry M. Goldwater.

John Bresnahan in Politico:

Here’s the text of Tancredo’s resolution (H.Con.Res.359):

“Expressing the sense of Congress on naming an aircraft carrier as the U.S.S. Barry M. Goldwater.

Whereas Barry M. Goldwater was born in the Arizona Territory in 1909 to Baron and Josephine Goldwater;

Whereas Barry M. Goldwater served as a pilot in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II and was later a Major General in the Air Force Reserve;

Whereas Barry M. Goldwater was an avid pilot throughout his military career and after his retirement;

Whereas Barry M. Goldwater was elected to the City Council in Phoenix in 1949, and served as United States Senator from Arizona from 1953-1965 and again from 1969-1987;

Whereas throughout his tenure in Congress, Senator Goldwater was as avid a proponent of a strong national defense as he was a staunch opponent of communism and totalitarianism;

Whereas Senator Goldwater was nominated by the Republican Party as a candidate for President of the United States in 1964;

Whereas Senator Goldwater memorably declared at the 1964 Republican Convention, `I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue,’; and

Whereas Senator Barry M. Goldwater was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier of the Navy, either the aircraft carrier designated as CVN-79 or the aircraft carrier designated as CVN-80, should be named the U.S.S. Barry M. Goldwater.”

As a former Navy guy myself, I will just note that Goldwater was an Army pilot. A-R-M-Y. I’m just saying.

Steeljaw Scribe:

The nonsense began with CVN-70  and reached the height of historical blindness with the Truman (honestly, naming a carrier for a president who tried his hardest to kill naval aviation and oversaw the death of the United States (CVA-58) in favor of the B-36).  Why not Enterprise (CVN-65 isn’t long for this world)?  Coral Sea?  Yorktown? Hornet? Midway? Enough with the politicians – these ships are going to last to the middle of the century and outlive many of us reading these words.  Why not go back to naming the carriers after famous battles and reclaim some of our heritage and linkage with notable CVs from the past?  And, BTW, what better way to celebrate naval aviation’s upcoming centenary?

Petition to name next carrier Enterprise here.

Robert Farley:

A USN aircraft carrier should not, under any circumstances, be named the Barry M. Goldwater. While I’ll concede that Goldwater would probably be a better choice from the perspective of US history than either Carl Vinson or John C. Stennis, the idea that any of them deserve a supercarrier is simply absurd. The next US CVN should be the William Jefferson Clinton; he was a two termer, a better President than either George H. W. Bush or Gerald Ford, and more popular than Ronald Reagan. Any wingnuts who would feel wobbly about serving on the USS William Jefferson Clinton can go fuck themselves. And no, USS Enterprise is not an acceptable alternative, at least not for CV-79. I’m open to naming a future carrier after the Enterprise, but not this one; I’m tired of the conceit that Republican Presidents get CVs, but not Democratic ones. We can talk about George W. Bush after the USS Lyndon Baines Johnson is commissioned, although I’m guessing that Bush the Younger will still be residing in Nixon’s Locker when the time comes…

Matthew Yglesias:

John Stennis and Carl Vinson were, of course, Democrats and frankly their inclusion on the list of guys with aircraft carriers named after them is far more egregious than any Republican President. The idea here seems to be that veteran white supremacist politicians are worthy of honor as long as they also liked defense pork.

UPDATE: Alex Massie:

I hadn’t realised until Matt Yglesias pointed it out that there’s some unhappiness that the US navy’s next aircraft carrier is going to be named after Barry Goldwater and not William Jefferson Clinton. The obvious thing to do, however, is avoid naming ships after politicians at all. This is one area in which the Royal Navy, despite everything, remains vastly superior to its cousins on the other side of the Atlantic.

I mean, the new Type 45 Detroyers, HMS Daring and HMS Dauntless have proper naval names as do the submarines Trafalgar, Ambush, Audacious. The new carriers being built – the Queen Elizabeth and the Prince of Wales – take us a little too far in the American direction, (even if there have been seven previous ships names Prince of Wales) and they’re not quite as good as previous carriers such as Implacabale, Indefatigable, Furious, Colossus, Vengeance and, perhaps best of all, Vindictive.

Matthew Yglesias:

I think this is all well-taken. And it’s worth noting that in the socialist utopia of the future, it seems we’ll be following the British tradition. In addition to the various starships named Enterprise we’ve seen series focused on Voyager and heavy screen time for the Defiant. Other starships I recall include the Intrepid, Challenger, Odyssey, etc. Basically no starships seem to be named after committee chairman or undistinguished former presidents.


Filed under Legislation Pending, Military Issues