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Senator Arlen Specter Announces Support for Stalled Justice Department Nominee Dawn Johnsen

Posted by: Audiegrl

ThinkProgress/Amanda Terkel~Last year, President Obama nominated Dawn Johnsen to head the Office of Legal Counsel, which, during the Bush administration, sanctioned torture. Johnsen, however, was an outspoken critic of the so-called “torture memos.” Conservatives blocked her nomination, and the White House has said that it plans to renominate her when the Senate officially reconvenes later this month. Even after he became a Democrat, Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter said that he opposed Johnsen’s nomination. However, today his office released a statement in which Specter says that he will now support her:

After voting ‘pass’ (which means no position) in the Judiciary Committee, I had a second extensive meeting with Ms. Johnsen and have been prepared to support her nomination when it reaches the Senate floor.

Spencer Ackerman notes that Republican Sen. Dick Lugar (IN) has also said he is standing by his support for Johnsen, meaning she has the 60 votes necessary to be confirmed.

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Thrown Under the Bus Again: The GOP Made a Pact with the Devil

Posted by LibbyShaw

The Republican Party threw the American people under a high speed train fast tracked straight to hell.

Again.

Predictably Republicans made a pact with yet another devil. This time the GOP sold its and our souls, too, to the hottest and most irresponsible devil in hell.

Let me introduce the banking devil for whom we emptied our U.S. Treasury in an extraordinary effort to save the American economy.

Tragically the Bush Administration and its rubber stamping Republicans in Congress failed to set up any rules, enforcement mechanisms, proposals for accountability, transparency or pay back benchmarks before it allowed the devil to empty our national piggy bank. Sure, guys, just back up your 18 wheeler big mother trucks to the U.S. Treasury and we will help y’all load the bags of taxpayer cash.

Clearly the GOP is totally on board with the banker devil run lawless casinos on Wall St. The devil is gambling with our money that includes our savings accounts, investment portfolios, retirement savings and bail out taxpayer dollars. The GOP also gave its blessing to a continuation of the banks extensive abusive consumer practices. Usury level interests rates and fees anyone? Worse, the GOP obviously does not have a problem with the obscene Wall St. bonuses, earned on the backs of our savings accounts, portfolio investments, not to mention again, the sucker U.S. taxpayer bucks, thank you.

I guess the sold-out Republicans are also supportive of the banks refusal to lend money to small businesses and consumers because it is more profitable for banks to gamble with our money instead.

Hell, at least we know for certain that the Republicans are completely on board with obstructing our nation’s economic recovery. If small businesses cannot get jump started with an influx of cash, it cannot do business. It cannot meet its inventory needs nor can it make payroll. If mortgages cannot be re-negotiated, bankrupted homeowners cannot hold on to their homes. Consumers cannot purchase new homes or cars if we cannot borrow money, either. Nor can we improve or make substantial repairs to our homes if the banks won’t lend home equity funding.

Republicans don’t care. They simply do not care about the people.

Yesterday Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) informed the Huffington Post that the GOP signed a political pact with the banks to kill off regulatory reform measures.

The allegation of a quid pro quo was based on an email that Durbin received last spring after his amendment to allow judges to modify mortgages for homeowners who enter bankruptcy was defeated on the Senate floor. During a discussion to promote publicly-financed elections on Friday, the Illinois Democrat relayed that, shortly after the defeat of his “cram-down” amendment, a “banker friend” forwarded him the note from Tanya Wheeless, president & CEO of Arizona Bankers Association.

I have contacted the market presidents for each of the three banks (Chase, Wells and Bank of America) and explained that in my humble opinion it’s a big mistake to cut a deal with Durbin and alienate our (in Arizona) Senator,” Wheeless’s email reads. “I also told them that I thought this would drive a wedge in our industry. [Senator Jon] Kyl has pointedly told them not to make a deal with Durbin and then come looking to Republicans when they need help on something like regulatory restructuring or systemic risk regulation.”

Repeat:

…Come looking to Republicans when they need help on something like regulatory restructuring or systemic risk regulation.

The smoking gun email is included in the link above.

According to Senator Durbin:

The email, he added, “is a total smoking gun as far as I’m concerned. It tells the whole story and it is in writing as to what is happening behind the scenes… So when people say I don’t know if we should have public financing because that is my tax dollars, I can tell them that their resources, whether tax dollars or personal wealth, are being impacted every day by decisions being made by the special interest groups.”

Special interest groups obviously own most if not all of the GOP and 12 lousy Democrats. Earth to Democrats, having a D behind your name means you are supposed to vote as a Democrat, not as a pimped out Republican, sell-out Republican lite or an anti-democracy, reactionary teabagger. Nor are you supposed to cave into to the greed infested fat cats.

Fortunately, Senate Democrats have not given up. New cram down legislation is likely making a come back.

An amendment allowing judges to modify mortgages on primary residences for homeowners in bankruptcy will finally find a home as part of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (H.R. 4173).
The amendment, which is being offered by Representatives Conyers (D, MI), Turner (R, OH), Lofgren (D, CA), Marshall (D, GA), Cohen (D, TN), Miller (D, NC), Nadler (D, NY), Delahunt (D, MA) and Waters (D, CA), is potentially the best news homeowners and our economy have had in quite some time.

The amendment is essentially the same as H.R. 1106, a bill passed by the House on March 5, 2009, by a vote of 234-191, but subsequently defeated in the Senate by a vote of 51-45. The measure needed 60 votes to pass over Republican objections, and 12 Democrats succumbed to pressure from the banking lobby and voted nay.

Check out Senator Durbin’s searing indictment of bankers on the Senate floor:

One other argument that I think takes the cake: “Senator, you understand the moral hazard here. People have to be held responsible for their wrongdoing. If you make a mistake, darn it, you’ve gotta pay the price. That’s what America is all about.” Really, Mr. Banker on Wall Street? That’s what America is all about? What price did Wall Street pay for their miserable decisions creating rotten portfolios, destroying the credit of America and its businesses? Oh, they paid a pretty heavy price. Hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer’s money sent to them to bail them out, to put them back in business, even to fund executive bonuses for those guilty of mismanaging. Moral hazard, huh? How can they argue that with a straight face? […]

We want America to be strong, but if it’s going to be strong, you should be respectful, Mr. Banker, of the people who live in the communities where your banks are located. You should be respectful of those families who are doing their best to make ends meet in the toughest recession that they’ve ever seen. You should be respectful of the people that you want to sign up for checking accounts and savings accounts, and make sure that they have decent neighborhoods to live in. Show a little loyalty to this great nation instead of just your bottom line when it comes to profitability. Take a little consideration of what it takes to make America strong…

I’ll offer this Durbin amendment as I did last year. When I offered it last year, they said, “Not a big problem, only two million foreclosures coming up.” They were wrong. It turned out to be eight million. And if the bankers prevail today, and we can’t get something through conference committee to deal with this issue, I’ll be back. I’m not going to quit on this […] At some point, the Senators in this chamber will decide, the bankers shouldn’t write the agenda in the United States Senate.

Bankers and their enabling Republican lawmakers are oblivious to the notion of moral hazard. Since the Reagan Administration, the Republican Party has been on a crusade to insulate the banks and the corporate sector from its own risk taking. Those big government loathing, tax paying hater Republicans stuck the entire fat cat enabling mess on the backs of the American people.

At least the folks in Illinois can count on their lawmakers like Dick Durbin to step up. Unfortunately for those of us in Texas, however, we have no such luck.

We are tragically saddled with cartoon like characters and carnival barkers. The three below are just a few examples.

Senator Cornyn claims in one sentence that Senate Democrats want to kill private health insurance companies. In the next he says Senate Democrats intend to hand over $450. billion to to private insurance companies. Talk about double speak and stupid talk.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Senator Hutchison tells serial lies about health care reform and uses the usual GOP scare tactics. Ohmigod! Health care reform would be disastrous for the American people. Not. What we have now is horribly disastrous for 47 million uninsured Americans.

And then there is this.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet our distinguished governor.

The Party of No says no to everything that would help the people whether it is with extending unemployment benefits, banking regulation and fairness practices, jobs, health care reform and the economy. Today,in his speech at the Brookings Institute, President Obama told us precisely where Republicans stand on everything.

Hat tips to Jed Lewison over at Daily Kos for providing the video clip of President Obama’s talk below.

It is about time, Mr. President. Your words are long overdue.

In a sober tone, President Obama portrayed the Republican Party as opportunistic, obstructionist, and deeply hypocritical, accusing them of both having created the economic crisis we face today and having done nothing to help solve it. He also slammed their hypocritical attacks on government spending, reminding them that they are the ones who created the deficit, and that the recovery act represents just a small portion of it.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Texas, more than a few really rather drop dead and serious kick ass changes are long overdue.

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Citizens for Real Health Care Reform and a PUBLIC OPTION

Dear Supporters,

Moments ago, the Senate voted to begin its full debate on historic health care reform legislation instead of obstructing it with a filibuster.

Tonight’s vote marks the biggest victory to date for our grassroots effort to pass health care reform with a public option. We cannot give enough thanks to the over 100,000 signers of our petition at CitizensForAPublicOption.com for helping to fundamentally shift the momentum towards meaningful reform.

Not long ago, a few loud opponents of reform armed and organized by the insurance industry dominated this debate. Now the American people, the majority of whom support a public option, have spoken out and gained the upper hand.

Not long ago, the public option seemed like little more than a pipe dream. Now it’s part of health care bills in both the Senate and the House.

Not long ago, members of our own Democratic caucus weren’t sure they could even support an up-or-down vote on health care reform legislation. Tonight they voted to end the Republican filibuster.

But despite this good news, the fight for meaningful health care reform is not over. As we debate amendments to this legislation in the coming weeks, we will work with our colleagues to ensure it continues to address the “Three C’s” of meaningful reform: competition, choice, and cost reduction. And we will firmly oppose any effort to eliminate the public option.

Tonight we celebrate a milestone no one thought we could reach just months ago. Tomorrow the fight continues. We will not let up until the President signs a bill we can all be proud of.

Thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

Senator Dick Durban, Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Chuck Schumer

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Sen. Schumer at ESPA 2009 Fall Dinner: ‘If Dick Cheney Can Support Same-Sex Marriage, So Can Every Senator’

Speaking last week at a fundraising dinner for the top New York gay rights group ESPA, Senator Chuck Schumer articulated a far broader vision for same-sex marriage than he or most Democrats typically state publicly. “If Dick Cheney can support (same-sex) marriage, so can every Senator.”

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Think Progress Makes It’s Mark

Judged by the standard of influencing the conversation, Think Progress is flourishing.’~Politico

The 44D’s just wanted to take a moment and celebrate the blogger’s at ThinkProgress and the TP community. It’s not often that the MSM gives blogger’s recognition for all the hard work they do, even when they use blogger’s reporting in their own stories. Today, hopefully will mark a turning point in that behavior, and investigative blogger’s will earn the respect they so genuinely deserve.

Thank you TP for providing both excellent reporting and a place for honest political discussion.

thinkprogressmakesitmark

Politico/Daniel Libit—Can a liberal blog launched in the midst of the Bush era – a blog that once obsessed over Alberto Gonzales, Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove and the outing of Valerie Plame – still make its mark in the age of Obama?

In the case of Think Progress, the answer so far is yes.

Since January, the online arm of the Center for American Progress Action Fund has embraced its new role as the pin to prick the air out of Obama opposition — largely by offering up evidence that powerful Washington interests are fertilizing grassroots conservative anger.

In April, Think Progress was the first to highlight former House Majority Leader Dick Armey’s dual role as a lobbyist for a pharmaceutical company at DLA Piper and as the chairman of FreedomWorks, which has helped organize grassroots attacks on health care reform.

In the media uproar that followed, Armey quit his DLA Piper job and Editor Faiz Shakir says the controversy called into question whether the movement against the president was astroturfed.

In the ensuing months, Think Progress’s trackers and bloggers have tried to make that point with videos and posts that undercut the opponents of President Barack Obama’s agenda.

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The Unauthorized 9.12 Teabagger Tour

Brought to you by Max Blumenthal and Alternet.org

Max Blumenthal covers the 9.12 anti-Obama rally on the National Mall, where teabaggers demonstrated their opposition to healthcare reform by calling Obama the biggest Nazi in the world, claiming he wants to put “real” Americans in concentration camps, and was born in Kenya.

But how many of them have health insurance, and do they know they’re pawns in the game of healthcare industry front man Dick Armey? Of course not.

In his article, 9/12 Protest: Here’s What Fox News Didn’t Broadcast, Max explains what he witnessed in Washington:

My video tour of the 9.12 Project is yet another exhibit of how the Republican Party’s big tent became a one-ring circus that operates according to the rules of P.T. Barnum: “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

For the inside story of how the radical right took over the GOP and drove it to the margins, check out Max’s new book, “Republican Gomorrah: Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party

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When Cantor mentions Obama, GOP rally interrupts with howls of ‘he’s a liar.’

ThinkProgress/Lee Fang—Yesterday, Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks and the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, an anti-health reform group pushing for the privatization of Medicare, hosted a Republican rally with congressional leaders from the GOP caucus. House Republican Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) endorsed the sentiment of Rep. Joe Wilson’s (R-SC) outburst at the President, saying, “Don’t underestimate the amount of emotion that people are feeling…Americans are frustrated, they’re angry, and, most importantly, they’re scared to death.” Later, when Republican Whip Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) began speaking about Obama, he was repeatedly interrupted by howls from the crowd that the President is “a liar.” “Liar, liar pants on fire,” they yelled.

Watch it:

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