Category Archives: Politics

60 Pundits And Politicos As They Were In The ’80s And ’90s

1. Tucker Carlson

2. James Carville

3. Jay Carney

4. Chris Matthews

5. Ann Coulter

6. David Corn

7. Paul Begala

8. George Stephanopoulos

9. Chuck “Charles” Todd

10. Juan Williams

11. Greta Van Susteren

12. Joe Scarborough

13. Sean Hannity

14. Matt Drudge

15. David Brock

16. Donna Brazile

17. David Gergen

18. Ed Henry

19. Paul Krugman

20. Bill Kristol

21. Howard Kurtz

22. George Will

23. Rush Limbaugh

24. Charles Krauthammer

25. Laura Ingraham

26. Bill O’Reilly

27. Arianna Huffington

28. Lawrence O’Donnell

29. Howard Fineman

30. Jake Tapper

31. Karl Rove

32. Peggy Noonan

33. Katrina Vanden Hueval

34. Carl Cameron

35. Alan Colmes

36. John King

37. Hilary Rosen

38. Jon Karl

39. David Frum

40. Katie Couric

41. Andrea Mitchell

42. Bob Scheiffer

43. Alex Castellanos

44. Brian Williams

45. Bob Beckel

46. Tina Brown

47. Diane Sawyer

48. Tom Friedman

49. Maureen Dowd

50. Gwen Ifill

51. Brit Hume

52. Joe Trippi

53. David Axelrod

David Axelrod

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Rand Paul Allies To Make Six-Figure Ad Buy In Missouri

Charlie Riedel / AP

A SuperPAC closely connected to Sen. Rand Paul is jumping into the Missouri Senate race, hoping to use a six-figure ad buy to swing the election in favor of Rep. Todd Akin, a source close to Paul said Wednesday evening.

According to this source, America’s Liberty PAC is jumping into Akin’s campaign against Sen. Claire McCaskill — despite his controversial statements about rape and abortion.

The source said that the last-minute ad buy in support of embattled Republican candidate Todd Akin is happening now because the polls in Missouri are becoming closer.

After Big Marriage Equality Donation, Rainbows Appear At Gates Foundation

On Tuesday afternoon, the campaign to approve the marriage equality referendum in Washington state announced a $500,000 gift from Bill and Melinda Gates — who previously gave $100,000 to the campaign.

“Bill and Melinda Gates made a second contribution to the Referendum 74 campaign because they support marriage equality and believe the law is good for Washington state,” said a family spokesperson, according to the Washington United for Marriage organization pushing for the referendum’s approval.

Soon thereafter, National Public Radio’s Andy Carvin tweeted about this coincidence:

Lawmakers Push Administration To Release Intelligence “Black Budget” Numbers

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — As Congress is poised to pass an omnibus spending bill this week, several lawmakers are pushing the White House to release a different budget: the top line numbers to the secret intelligence budget.

Decisions made about how many federal dollars will go to intelligence activities are made in deep secrecy, and as the debate over the National Security Agency’s domestic spying program continues, lawmakers in both parties want the administration to be more transparent about how much is being spent. Sixteen agencies currently receive secret intelligence funds, known as the “black budget.”

Democratic Reps. Peter Welch, Luis Gutierrez, and David Price are joined by Republicans Jim Sensenbrenner (the original author of the PATRIOT act), Jim Jordan, and Cynthia Lummis in calling on the administration to release the numbers in a letter to the President. They are also introducing legislation to require the President to do so.

“As you develop your fiscal year 2015 budget, we strongly urge you to take a simple step toward much needed transparency by including the total amount requested for each of the sixteen intelligence agencies,” Welch and the lawmakers write. “We believe the top line number for each agency should be made public, with no risk to national security, for comparative purposes across all federal government agencies. Congress and the American people will be better served by knowing this basic information.”

The letter was first reported by Politico. President Obama is set to address NSA reforms on Friday.

“”The top-line intelligence budgets for America’s 16 intelligence agencies are unknown to the American taxpayer and largely unknown to the Members of Congress who represent them,” Welch said in a statement. “It’s led to dubious policies, wasted money and questionable effectiveness. Requiring the public disclosure of top-line intelligence spending is an essential first step in assuring that our taxpayers and our national security interests are well served.”

Former Rep. Lee Hamilton, a former chairman of the intelligence committee and the vice-chairman of the 9/11 commission, is supporting the bill. Reining in the NSA’s spying programs has become a top priority for liberal and conservative lawmakers alike.

Hamilton said the bill is an important first step in getting the intelligence communities to respond to congressional oversight.

“The intelligence community will respond to congressional oversight when the budget is involved and not until the budget is involved,” he told BuzzFeed. “You have to bring pressure to beat on the intelligence community to respond to oversight and the way to do that is through the budget.”

Hamilton argued the expansion of the domestic surveillance programs took place in large part because there was no public debate or disclosure of what exactly they wanted to do.

“I think they have not had [oversight] in the past, for the past decade or more. There’s a very considerable expansion government power, as great an expansion as I’ve seen in my lifetime with respect to privacy and rights. That took place all in secret,” he said.

UPDATE: This post has been updated to include a statement from Rep. Peter Welch.

Obama Campaign Denies Report It Had Conference Call With Jeremiah Wright

The Obama campaign Sunday denied a claim Sunday by former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown that President Obama held a conference call with black pastors, among them his former controversial Reverend Jeremiah Wright in an effort to get out the vote in the black community.

Brown wrote:

If Obama looks as if he’s going black, he could turn off white people. So he’s largely been lying low on the race issues – visibly pushing for the Latino vote, the gay vote, the women’s vote, but not the black vote.

But last weekend, he held a conference call with a collection of black preachers that included his old pastor, Jeremiah Wright. He wanted to talk to them about getting out the vote.

An Obama campaign spokeswomen Lis Smith told BuzzFeed that the “report is false.”

Appropriations Bill Includes Measure To Ban LGBT Discrimination In Jury Selection

Sen. Barbara Mikulski J. Scott Applewhite / AP

WASHINGTON — Potential jurors in federal trials could not be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity under legislation approved this week by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Legislation to address the jury selection issue had been introduced by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, Susan Collins, and Sheldon Whitehouse earlier this year to prevent discrimination against LGBT people in the federal jury selection process.

The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, included the language of the jury bill in the Financial Services appropriations bill during the mark up on Tuesday. The language amends the federal statute addressing nondiscrimination in jury selection to prohibit the practice of striking jurors in federal courts on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Current law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin and economic status in federal court jury selection.

“The judicial process should represent our nation’s principles of inclusion and acceptance, and eliminating the discriminatory exclusion of LGBT jurors is a necessary step to meeting that goal,” Shaheen said in a statement.

Collins praised the committee for its action, saying in a statement, “I am pleased that the committee has adopted our language that would prohibit potential jurors from being dismissed for service in federal trials based solely on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Plaintiffs In Discrimination Case Call On Eliot Spitzer To “Make Right What His Father Messed Up”

Plaintiffs Trevor Morris, Akim Rodriguez, and Anthony Haydenn stand in front of the Bernard Spitzer-owned East 57th Street apartment building, where they worked in 1999. Macey J. Foronda / BuzzFeed

As former governor Eliot Spitzer makes an increasingly likely return to public office, three plaintiffs in a longstanding racial discrimination case against his father, Bernard Spitzer, are calling on the New York City comptroller candidate to “make right what his father messed up” as they return to trial this fall.

In 1999, four African-Americans who worked for one of Bernard Spitzer’s luxury apartment buildings as doormen and porters alleged they had been fired for the color of their skin.

Trevor Morris, Anthony Haydenn, Akim Rodriguez, and Leonard Boyce, who has since passed away, claimed they had been asked to vacate the lobby whenever Bernard Spitzer was on his way in or out of the 34-story apartment building, located at 150 East 57th Street. Haydenn, at the time, said he was asked to clean the toilets with a toothbrush, a task not assigned to the lighter-skinned doormen.

Bernard Spitzer, who owns a portfolio of properties in Manhattan and Washington, D.C., denied engaging in discrimination, explaining he hadn’t known about the plaintiffs’ discharge until the suit.

“I don’t see the blackness or whiteness or pinkness or yellowness of a doorman,” the elder Spitzer said during his testimony in 2008, when the dispute finally saw trial in the State Supreme Court in the Bronx. “I have a mind that focuses on the fact that he is a doorman and functions as a doorman.”

A six-person jury ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, awarding them a total of $1.3 million in damages, lost wages, and emotional distress. But in 2011, after an appeal from Bernard Spitzer and his lawyers, an appellate court said a new trial was needed due to inadmissible hearsay from Haydenn’s testimony that had been allowed into evidence.

The trial has already been delayed five times since the appeal, according to court documents, but a new trial date is now set for Nov. 27 of this year.

Bernard Spitzer’s real estate fortune has been central to his son’s public life: Eliot Spitzer has lived in his father’s buildings, and the family wealth helped elect him state attorney general and funded a last-minute petition blitz that put him in the race for comptroller.

At the time of the discrimination charge, Eliot Spitzer was not involved in the management of Spitzer Enterprises, the family real estate business, or of the apartment building in question; he had just been elected attorney general. But he has since taken on an “extremely active” role in managing the portfolio, according to a report in Capital New York, as his father, now 89, suffers from Parkinson’s disease. A New Yorker review of his tax returns showed Spitzer’s income as a landlord has increased from $1.4 million in 2006 to $2.56 million in 2012.

Spitzer family spokeswoman Lisa Linden said Eliot is still involved in the real estate business, even as he campaigns against Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer for the Democratic nomination in the comptroller’s race. But Linden said Spitzer does not, and would not, have any involvement in the ongoing trial.

Even so, the three surviving plaintiffs have zeroed in on the defendant’s son as the Spitzer name has returned to headlines amid the comptroller’s race. Two weeks ago, Haydenn approached the Stringer campaign’s spokeswoman, who referred him to reporters. In an interview facilitated by the campaign, with BuzzFeed and the historic black paper The Amsterdam News, the plaintiffs seemed as interested in appealing to Eliot for help as they did in tying him to the alleged sins of his father.

“He has to make right what his father messed up,” said Haydenn, who was the first of the four men to get fired because of a confrontation with the superintendent he placed at “two weeks before Christmas.”

“Being that he inherited the real estate company, we just want him to make it right,” Haydenn, 48, added. “And he has the authority to do that. It seems as though these people would spend $10 million fighting you before they see you get $1 million that you won justifiably. That’s just a great form of hypocrisy.”

Morris, 41, said Eliot Spitzer shouldn’t “be punished for what his father did, but he should take responsibility since he is in charge of his father’s business now.”

“He should step up to the plate and do what’s right,” said Morris. “With that being said, he comes from privilege. The fact that he was already in office, and lost his office, and now he’s running again, shows the arrogance of this man, just like his father. They’re one in the same.”

Morris said he has cringed watching Spitzer’s television ads for the comptroller’s race. He pointed to one in particular that boasts, “Didn’t matter what your politics were, where you lived, or what color you happened to be,” the narrator says. “If someone was taking advantage of you, that someone heard from him. Loudly.”

Rodriguez, 46, said he has no interest in settling out of court; he hopes the case sees full trial again. “We want justice. We were wrongly fired. I think they need to do right by us,” Rodriguez said. “We’re not looking for money. But we did our job, and I don’t know why we’re still not working there.”

Haydenn, Morris, and Rodriguez claim Bernard Spitzer had an unjust advantage in his 2011 appeal because one of the appellate court judges listed on the opinion, Justice Karla Moskowitz, was appointed in 2007 by his son, then still governor. “It was an unfair court of appeals from the get-go,” Haydenn said. “If it’s going to be re-tried, we just want a fair shake. That’s all.”

Morris said he is confident they can win their case again, even without the piece of evidence excluded as hearsay. “The fact that we lost in the appellate court over a fragment of the case, a segment, just a little part of what somebody’s statement was — it’s kind of crazy,” he said. “We already won, and I figure we’re gonna win again.”

Asked what made their case strong, Haydenn alleged that after the four men were fired the building hired only light-skinned men. “He didn’t look at us as people, but as material to be moved around and discarded,” he said of Bernard.

Eliot Spitzer, who resigned from the governorship in 2008 in the wake of a prostitution scandal, has denied any connection to the case.

Linden, the spokeswoman for the Spitzer family, said the following in a statement to BuzzFeed: “The initial verdict was an atrocious injustice against Bernard Spitzer, which the court appropriately reversed. There is absolutely no evidence supporting the allegations of discrimination made in the complaint. This has nothing to do with Eliot, and any attempt to smear him or his dad is both desperate and despicable.”

Trevor Morris and Anthony Haydenn, pictured, say they expect to return to trial this November. Macey J. Foronda / BuzzFeed

Obamacare Applications Tripped Up By Lack Of Spanish-Language Training Materials

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration planned to make enrolling in health insurance as easy as possible for Spanish-speakers.

But more than one month into the launch, the Spanish-language version of the health care exchange is still not functional. No worries, says the government, just fill out a paper application. The problem is, advocates say, they can’t get enough Spanish-language help because the government didn’t print Spanish-language training materials.

The latest issue in the roll out: Certified Application Counselors (CACs), who undergo a several-hour certification class to help people apply for Obamacare. (CACs are different from the much-discussed Navigators, who are trained to assist people compare plans and actually enroll in private health insurance.) The Department of Health and Human Services website lists Spanish-language training materials for Navigators. There are no such materials for CACs.

This has posed a problem for Affordable Care Act supporters hoping to get the Spanish-speaking population to enroll in health insurance. Because of continued delays with the Spanish-language federal exchange, health care advocates have relied on paper applications and in-person help. That reality has increased the need for CACs, advocates say, and meeting that need has been harder because there’s no way to certify them in Spanish.

“The people who we hire are all bilingual, so they have to go from English to Spanish. It would be nice if [the materials] were all in Spanish,” said Dr. Jane Delgado, the president and CEO of the National Alliance For Hispanic Health, a Washington-based non-partisan nonprofit working overtime to help people apply for Obamacare.

Delgado’s group runs a telephone helpline staffed by CACs that has fielded more than 9,000 calls in the past month from people looking to complete Obamacare applications. “100%” of those calls have been in Spanish, she said.

“Sometimes when people translate things, the English is not that hot to begin with, then they translate it and that’s not too much better either,” she said. “Just think of it: When you get an insurance form and it’s in English, it’s still hard. And that’s for people who know how to get insurance and have been part of the system and understand it and are educated and have advanced degrees.”

“The language of insurance is not the language of people, of conversation,” she said. “So of course it would be easier if it was in Spanish, but it also still might have words that are very difficult.”

Delgado’s CACs have been certified in English but work in Spanish. She’s hired seven CACs over the past month to handle the volume of helpline calls. Her staff is bilingual, so each member is certified in English, then counsels callers in Spanish. Overall, she said, the system “could have been better,” but she said her organization has been handling the load OK.

Other activists have complained that the lack of Spanish CAC training has made it tougher to staff teams to help Spanish speakers with paper applications — the only option right now for Spanish-speakers in states using the federal exchange.

A top official at the National Council of La Raza explained some of the concerns in an interview with BuzzFeed last week.

Most Latino applicants are likely to be unaffected by the problems; the administration anticipates the vast majority (70%) of Latino applicants to enroll through the English-language exchange.

But the lack of available Spanish-training materials for CACs is just another example of HealthCare.gov’s online stumbles complicating grassroots enrollment efforts. Officials had been most excited about the grassroots drive before the initial Oct. 1 launch.

Grassroots activists say they’re primed and ready to make up for lost time, however. Enroll America — one of the largest groups focused on expanding health insurance coverage by knocking on doors, holding small rallies and other grassroots activities — reported Tuesday that it has raised more than $27 million and is preparing a two-week Obamacare grassroots blitz in early December.

Delgado said what nearly everyone who deals with Obamacare enrollment on the ground has said: The public is interested in the coverage options offered by the law and is ready to embrace the Affordable Care Act, despite the rollout problems.

But she also said frustrations are mounting. She’s content to wait for the English-language side of Obamacare to get worked out first, but she said she hopes that means the Spanish-language side won’t be plagued by the same problems once the site is fully up and running.

“It would be nice to have it,” she said of a Spanish-language CAC training program. “But right now I’d rather they spend their time fixing the English website so it works really well, and once they have that up and going, then they can work on a Spanish-language one. But don’t work on the Spanish until you have the English (fixed) or otherwise you’re just going to be confusing people.”