Thursday, June 30, 2011

Stephen Colbert's running PAC shtick creates sticky mess

Stephen Colbert's running PAC shtick creates sticky mess

Stephen Colbert pauses while speaking after filing with the Federal Election Commission Friday, May 13, 2011 in Washington. | AP Photo
Stephen Colbert's PAC joke on the FEC seems to be backfiring. | AP PhotoClose
Advocates of reducing the power of money in politics thought they had found a champion in the unlikely person of Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert, whose ongoing shtick about forming a political action committee brought more attention to their cause than all their press releases, testimony and legal briefs combined.
As part of his effort to highlight — and parody — the impact of a 2010 Supreme Court decision opening new avenues for corporate money in elections, the satirist plans to testify Thursday in front of the Federal Election Commission about a very real legal request he filed that would allow his planned Colbert Super PAC to push the envelope on corporate political spending.

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Vogel on Colbert's PAC

Colbert unveils PAC - Mar. '11

But the joke seems to be backfiring.
Not only is the PAC joke causing headaches for those whose cause it seemed designed to help — and providing fodder for their opponents — it’s exposing Colbert to rigorous questioning from FEC lawyers and raising ethics questions for his lawyer.
“I think Colbert is trying to dramatize problems in the campaign finance world in the way that he dramatizes other things,” said longtime campaign finance reform advocate Fred Wertheimer, a longtime advocate for stricter campaign finance rules who is president of Democracy 21. “But nevertheless, the proposals here would potentially open gaping disclosure loopholes in the campaign finance laws.”
Wertheimer is so concerned about what Colbert is doing, in fact, that Democracy 21 has joined with the Campaign Legal Center, another advocacy group, to petition the FEC to reject his request because it could result in the “radical evisceration” of campaign finance rules.
If Colbert gets his way before the FEC, it could blur the lines between political money and media to an unprecedented extent.
For instance, it might enable Fox News pundit-politicians such as Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee to use the network’s resources to boost their own political committees, assert Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center in their FEC filing. It concludes: “Mr. Colbert’s ultimate goals here may be comedic, but the commission should not play the straight man at the expense of the law.”
Colbert’s PAC bit started as a parody of the PAC started by former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty to lay the foundation for his presidential campaign. But after lawyers for Comedy Central’s parent company Viacom expressed reservations about Colbert using their corporate resources — in the form of his eponymous late-night faux news show — to promote the PAC, the bit morphed into a riff on how corporations like Viacom can spend cash on politics, thanks to the 2010 high court decision in a case called Citizens United v. FEC.
“I believe the Citizens United decision was the right one. There should be unlimited corporate money, and I want some of it. I don’t want to be the one chump who doesn’t have any,” Colbert — playing the part of the blowhard conservative pundit he portrays on his nightly show — told POLITICO after personally delivering his advisory opinion request at the FEC’s downtown Washington offices last month.

Mark Halperin suspended over Obama remark on Morning Joe (video)

MSNBC senior political analyst Mark Halperin was suspended on Thursday by the cable network after he called President Obama “a dick” on a popular morning show and then quickly apologized.
“I thought he was a dick yesterday,” Halperin, who also is an editor-at large for Time, said on Morning Joe, referring to the President’s conduct during his press conference.
A couple of hours later, MSNBC issued a statement, saying, “Mark Halperin’s comments this morning were completely inappropriate and unacceptable. We apologize to the President, The White House and all of our viewers. We strive for a high level of discourse and comments like these have no place on our air. Therefore, Mark will be suspended indefinitely from his role as an analyst.

The cable outlet also put out a statment from Halperin at the same time, saying, “I completely agree with everything in MSNBC’s statement about my remark. I believe that the step they are taking in response is totally appropriate. Again, I want to offer a heartfelt and profound apology to the President, to my MSNBC colleagues, and to the viewers. My remark was unacceptable, and I deeply regret it.”

During the Morning Joe show, host Joe Scarborough hoped to prevent the comment from being broadcast, saying, “Delay that. Delay that. What are you doing? I can’t believe… don’t do that. Did we delay that?”

Just minutes later, Halperin quickly apologized on the air to the president and viewers for his choice of words. “Joking aside, this is an absolute apology. I shouldn’t have said it. I apologize to the president and the viewers who heard me say that,” Halperin said.

“We’re going to have a meeting after the show,” Scarborough said.

According to Scarborough, there had been a mishap with the seven-second delay button – a new executive producer apparently didn’t know how it worked. “You are supposed to know how to do the job,” Scarborough said of his producer. “I would tell you what I think of him, but he doesn’t know what button to push.”

Later in the show, Halperin again apologized, saying, “I can’t explain why I did it. It’s inappropriate, disrespectful. I’ve already apologized, and I will again to the President. I’m sorry, I’m sorry to the viewers…It is disrespectful, what I said was disrespectful to the president and the office but it also lowers our discourse.”

He also tweeted to his followers, “I want to offer a heartfelt and profound apology to the President and the viewers of Morning Joe. My remark was not funny. I deeply regret it.”

Scarborough and Morning Joe Executive Producer Alex Korson said they were sorry for what happened.

“Certainly (host) Mika (Brzezinski) and I also apologize to viewers,” Scarborough said. “And we hear this all the time - parents come up and say, ‘Hey, by the way, we don’t just watch the show, our kids watch the show.’”

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Michele Bachmann supports lesbians

Michele Bachmann signed the Susan B. Anthony List??????

If Susan B. Anthony was a lesbian,

and Michele has a strong aversion to lesbians,

then, Michele Bachmann supports lesbians.

Hmmmmmmmmm..........  any takers on this argument?

Bachmann reveals miscarriage to explain abortion stance

By Andy Dunaway, AP
GOP presidential candidate GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann revealed she once had a "devastating" miscarriage, which ultimately helped shape her views on abortion.

The Minnesota congresswoman disclosed the miscarriage Wednesday night at a town hall meeting in South Carolina, according to CNN and Politico, in response to a question about abortion.

"After our second was born, we became pregnant with a third baby," Bachmann said, referring to her husband, Marcus. "It was an unexpected baby, but of course we were delighted to have this child. The child was coming along and we ended up losing our child. And it was devastating to both of us, as you can imagine if any of you have lost a child."

Bachmann said the experience "changed us forever," leading her and her husband to help raise 23 foster children along with five biological children. She frequently discusses her children on the campaign trail, such as when she introduced herself to the nation during the first GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire.

"We made a commitment that no matter how many children were brought into our life, we would receive them because we are committed to life," Bachmann told the South Carolina audience.

Bachmann recently signed an anti-abortion pledge by the Susan B. Anthony List, which states that candidates will appoint judges and Cabinet officials who are against abortion, sign legislation banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and cut off taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood.

The pledge was also signed by GOP presidential hopefuls Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul. Bachmann criticized rival Mitt Romney for not signing the pledge.

Romney, who once supported abortion rights but now does not, has said the pledge would have unintended consequences.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Putting on the brakes

Putting on the brakes

Paul LePage is claiming to do what the people of Maine want.

There are some people out there, mostly LePage supporters, who feel that he is doing the right thing by cutting help for the poorest and most venerable Mainers at a time when the state can't provide any better options. They are somehow lead to believe that all of the financial problems in the state are caused by that tiny segment of the population known as the Welfare Queen.

Changes in state's welfare laws long overdue

While the fact remains that there are women out there who may very well fall into the Welfare Queen category, targeting them as the ultimate solution will be a disappointment in terms of cost savings. In fact LePage's solutions might even bring about greater costs to society in the long run when you consider the cost of addressing those who are helped right off of welfare onto the streets of Portland, due to the FACT that for many people out there, welfare is a better option than anything else that is available. Also, I can assure you that there are much more lucrative targets that haven't even been brought out into the spotlight. Why? Because addressing these issues would be a major hit to a few of the successful and prominent Mainers.

Let me give you an example.

You want welfare fraud? Here you go. Maine's Child Protective Services and foster care system.

Oh my God! How can I say that about the Angels of Mercy who protect Maine's most venerable citizens from child abuse and neglect?

You don't even realize it because you're sold on the concept of the heroic endeavors of the government worker who protects children from abuse and neglect. You turn on channel 6, 8, or 13 for your news and see nothing about it. Perhaps the occasional case of horrific child abuse, perhaps the occasional drive to recruit foster or adoptive parents. But nothing more. Why? Because this segment of the Department of Health and Human Services operates in secrete and ALL of the news that comes out about it comes directly from the Public Relations department.

What they don't tell you is that when they do remove a kid from their home due to abuse and neglect, there are instantly 25 service providers who all get a cut of the $40,000 a year it costs to keep that kid in their out of home placement, via kinship placements, foster care or group homes, juvenile detention and residential treatment facilities.

First you have the lawyers who get those nice state contracts, typically 3 per kid. You have the AAG, (the lawyer who represents the department), you have the GAL, (the lawyer who represents the child) and you have the lawyer for the parents who are working towards regaining custody via services provided by the state. All of these people are paid by we the tax payer, and are great at dragging it all out. But it doesn't stop there. You also have the foster care and adoption agencies such as Youth Alternatives and Casey Family Services, who, although are often designated as non-profits, still must obtain funding for administrative and labor costs so that they can hire professionals such as social workers, administrators and attorneys, and of course they have to pay the foster parents. Of course that funding comes from many directions from state and federal grants to neighborhood bake-sales. Not to mention all of the shrinks that are making a killing off of providing psychological "help" to the children, services to the parents who are working towards reunification, you have DHHS social workers, supervisors, program administrators, etc and the special schools, and group homes. The list goes on and on.

This is all paid for by the tax payer. A lot of it is fraud. A lot of these families are easy targets. And you don't even have a clue.

What do you really think will happen when they start drug testing every welfare recipient?

Still we can't get away from the people suggesting the solutions off the backs of the poor, which will ultimately result in more children being taken into the states child welfare system. Take for example this George Fogg from North Yarmouth who wrote a letter to the Lewiston Sun Journal regarding the "great job" that LePage is doing.

Congratulations to Gov. Paul LePage for his efforts to rein in welfare fraud. He is to be commended, along with the current legislators, for their efforts to correct the many failings in welfare.

One has to only look at Detroit, Mich., to see what runaway entitlements can do to a once proud city. Detroit plummeted from 1.8 million citizens to 912,000 today. It has descended into the abyss of crime, debauchery, gun play, drugs, school truancy, car-jacking, gangs and human depravity. Hundreds of thousands today exist on federal welfare, free housing and food stamps. It was and is entitlement gone wild. Total chaos prevails.

The liberals scream about helping the needy, but it has gone way beyond reason or the state's ability to pay for it. I thank Gov. LePage for seeing the end result and putting on the brakes before the state's taxpayers are all destitute.

It is not a matter of ignoring human needs but rather of trying to restore human dignity in those who have become entitlement junkies. You can give a man a fish or you can teach him to fish for himself. The latter better serves all and is more like the old Maine Yankee who was too proud to ask for help.

It is obvious that government cannot be all things to all people and each should care for their own. The fact that the state is about to go bankrupt is a major red flag that LePage recognizes and is trying to prevent.

George A. Fogg, North Yarmouth
I asked a dear friend of mine from Detroit to respond to this. Here's what she said.
Interestingly enough a letter to the editor of the Sun Journal was published with no credibility except the flagrant usage of sound bites and buzz words. Then, to season this economic pundit as a voice of authority, he presents an incompatible comparative analysis between a local and a state political economy by analyzing Detroit with Maine.

Without any statement of authority utilizing bad census data, Detroit is reduced to the descriptive of an embarrassed city poverty due to, what an armchair economic expert, who became a subject matter expert on history of urban Detroit by cable channel surfing, has cleverly called "runaway entitlements".

Obviously this pseudo-subject matter expert has never been to Detroit and has no knowledge of Maine's own $44 million runaway entitlement train, just one of many that state is hiding by blaming its economic woes on its newly created cheap labor force.

This is the Motor City. This is what we do.

Tom Petty To Michele Bachmann: Stop Playing 'American Girl

Tom Petty To Michele Bachmann: Stop Playing 'American Girl

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) might be an "American Girl," but rocker Tom Petty doesn't want her using his song to say it.

Bachmann closed her presidential campaign announcement on Monday by playing Petty's 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Erick Bennett: The "Undie" Candidate for Mayor of Portland, Maine

Erick Paige has claimed to be LePage's "social networking strategist" during the election, but even LePage won't admit to that, he was never considered staff.  

Here, the mayoral candidate of Portland, Maine does video in his underwear from his bed.

Candidate For Mayor In Portland Maine Explains His Domestic Violence Charge

Erick Bennett

Sunday, June 26, 2011

TSA stands by officers after pat-down of elderly woman in Florida

TSA stands by officers after pat-down of elderly woman in Florida

Click to play
Adult diaper removed for TSA
  • A 95-year-old woman was held up by TSA officers at a Florida airport, her daughter says
  • The agents forced the cancer-stricken woman to take off her adult diaper, she adds
  • The TSA insists its officers "acted professionally and according to proper procedure"
  • The woman's daughter says those procedures should be changed

Adult diaper removed for TSA

(CNN) -- The Transportation Security Administration stood by its security officers Sunday after a Florida woman complained that her cancer-stricken, 95-year-old mother was patted down and forced to remove her adult diaper while going through security.
Reports of the incident took hold in social media, with scores of comments on the topic and reposts appearing hourly on Twitter Sunday afternoon.
The TSA released a statement Sunday defending its agents' actions at the Northwest Florida Regional Airport.
"While every person and item must be screened before entering the secure boarding area, TSA works with passengers to resolve security alarms in a respectful and sensitive manner," the federal agency said. "We have reviewed the circumstances involving this screening and determined that our officers acted professionally and according to proper procedure."
TSA pat downs 6-year-old child
Jean Weber told CNN's Fredricka Whitfield on Sunday that the security officers may have been procedurally correct, but she still does not believe they were justified, especially given her mother's frail condition.
"If this is your procedure -- which I do understand -- I also feel that your procedure needs to be changed," she said.
Weber said the two were traveling June 18 from northwest Florida to Michigan, so her mother could move in with relatives before eventually going to an assisted living facility.
"My mother is very ill, she has a form of leukemia," Weber said. "She had a blood transfusion the week before, just to bolster up her strength for this travel."
While going through security, the 95-year-old was taken by a TSA officer into a glassed-in area, where a pat-down was performed, Weber said. An agent told Weber "they felt something suspicious on (her mother's) leg and they couldn't determine what it was" -- leading them to take her into a private, closed room.
Soon after, Weber said, a TSA agent came out and told her that her mother's Depend undergarment was "wet and it was firm, and they couldn't check it thoroughly." The mother and daughter left to find a bathroom, at the TSA officer's request, to take off the adult diaper.
Weber said she burst into tears during the ordeal, forcing her own pat-down and other measures in accordance with TSA protocol. But she said her mother, a nurse for 65 years, "was very calm" despite being bothered by the fact that she had to go through the airport without underwear.
Eventually, Weber said she asked for her mother to be whisked away to the boarding gate without her, because their plane was scheduled to leave in two minutes and Weber was still going through security.
By this weekend, the 95-year-old woman -- who was not identified by name -- was doing "fine" in Michigan, where her niece and her family "was treating her like royalty because they love her so much."
"My mother is a trouper," Weber said.
This is not the first time that the TSA's pat-downs of passengers have come under fire, nor the first time that the agency has rallied behind its officers and policy.
Last year, the administration announced it was ramping up the use of full-body scanning and pat-downs to stop nonmetallic threats, including explosives, from getting on planes. The goal is to head off attacks such as the one allegedly attempted in Christmas 2009 by Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, who allegedly had a bomb sewn into his underwear on a flight from the Netherlands to Michigan.
The TSA estimates that only 3% of passengers are subjected to pat-downs -- and then only after they have set off a metal detector or declined to step into a full-body scanner. Yet the new policy has triggered an uproar online and in airports, from a relatively small but vocal number of travelers who feel their rights and privacy were being violated.
But the federal safety agency hasn't backed down, making some adjustments but no major changes to its policy.
"Every traveler is a critical partner in TSA's efforts to keep our skies safe," Administrator John Pistole, who ordered the new approach, said last fall. "And I know and appreciate that the vast majority of Americans recognize and respect the important work we do."
More recently, outrage erupted over a video-recorded pat-down of a 6-year-old passenger last April at New Orleans' airport. The video, which was posted on YouTube, shows the girl protesting the search by a female security officer at first, though she complies quietly while it is underway.
Pistole addressed this controversy at a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee meeting last week, explaining the pat-down was ordered because the child had moved while passing through a body imaging machine. He told committee members that "we have changed the policy (so) that there'll be repeated efforts made to resolve that without a pat-down."
The next day, TSA spokesman Greg Soule said that the new policy -- which will apply to children age 12 and younger -- is in the process of being rolled out. It will give security officers "more options," but does not eliminate pat-downs as one of them.
"This decision will ultimately reduce -- though not eliminate -- pat-downs," Soule said.