Washington

Marco Rubio and Jon Stewart are terrific together

This is an incredible discussion. Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio and The Daily Show's Jon Stewart engage in a lengthy chat about politics, the U.S. Senate and many of the issues confronting the nation.

The discussion is energetic, thoughtful, and brilliant. If you missed the extended after-show interview, take the time to view it.  Forget taking sides. Instead note the tone and depth of the discussion. 

Toward the end, Rubio makes a candid assessment of his time in the Senate that reveals his clear frustration. You may end up with a deeper appreciation of both Rubio and Stewart and wish that our nation's politicians would take the same approach to discussing our most important issues.

There are three parts to the show which you can see below.

 

 

 

 


Maybe the federal deficit is not as bad as we think

In his latest Capital Gains and Games column, Stan Collender tell us that the folks who warn us that increasing deficits will lead to fiscal hell may have it all wrong.

Some excerpts:

. . .the absolute guarantee that we’ll be economically doomed if we don’t immediately repent on the deficit and live a virtuous balanced budget life — has never worked for me because it’s never been proved to be true. In addition, those who have insisted that reducing the federal deficit no matter what the economic situation have seemed to be proselytizing to validate their personal beliefs or accomplish their unrelated political goals rather than actually analyzing anything.

. . .

As the deficit rose to the point we’ve been told would bring immediate and unmistakable retribution from an angry economic deity, interest rates have fallen, the private sector has been reporting record earnings and is hoarding cash, and inflation is about as absent from monthly economic statistics as it can be.

. . .

the combination of economic conditions the United States is experiencing puts the current federal budget deficits and those who have championed them on the side of the angels rather than the demons because none of the other components of gross domestic product are making growth possible. State and local governments continue to increase revenues and cut back on spending, consumers and businesses aren’t spending, and the economic woes in Europe and elsewhere mean that trade isn’t available to help.

That makes federal fiscal and monetary policy the only two drivers of economic growth. With interest rates already low and the Federal Reserve’s options limited, the budget deficit is an economic blessing rather than a curse.

Whichever side you are on in current debate about the federal deficit, Collender's column is worth a read. You may not agree, but it will give you something to ponder.

You can also watch Collender talk about the economy on CNBC below:

 

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Is Allen West turning out to be weak Tea?

AllenWest
One could conclude that the Club for Growth is a tad disappointed in Florida Republican Congressman and anti-Communist Allen West. 

In fact, the Club describes "Tea Party star" West's record on Tea Party issues as "anemic."  

In a look at how the 87 freshmen voted on issues important to the Tea Party - West is tied for 54the place with a score of 64 percent.

Apparently for all his tough talk about standing up against the establishment that would destroy the United States of America - the Club for Growth is convinced that West is weak tea.

More from the Club's report:

After a careful review to see if their records match their rhetoric, we found that for many of the freshmen Republicans, promises of fiscal responsibility have proven to be empty. 

Our review of the voting records of freshmen Republicans on economic issues found: 

  • In 2011, freshmen Republicans received an average score of 71% on the Club for Growth’s Congressional Scorecard. The average veteran received a 69%. This means the freshmen Republicans voted, on average, about the same as the Republicans who were already in Congress.
  • A majority of freshmen Republicans voted against the conservative Republican Study Committee budget.
  • Only 14 freshmen Republicans signed a pledge promising never to raise the debt ceiling until “Cut, Cap, and Balance” had passed.
  • “Tea Party star” Rep. Allen West received an anemic 64% for voting to raise the debt ceiling and by repeatedly voting against spending cuts.

Continue reading "Is Allen West turning out to be weak Tea?" »


Marco Rubio fibs, the media goes bonkers and does it really matter

RubiofinWho do we blame for the current controversy about Florida Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio?

By now you know the story. The St. Petersburg Times published a story last week about nut-case birthers questioning whether Rubio could legally become vice president or president.

A day later, The Washington Post ran a story suggesting that Rubio lied about his family history by claiming that his parents had fled Fidel Castro's Cuba when in fact they did not.

Rubio easily dismissed the birther question. But he has been in full campaign mode trying to explain why his statements over the years about his parents have been, at best, muddled.

Thousands of words have been written. Prominent Republicans have jumped to Rubio's defense. There has been quibbling over the word "exile." And of course it is all a plot by the evil, liberal media.

Rubiofin1All the noise drowns out a very simple fact - at times, Rubio fibbed about his parents. They did not come to the United State after Castro took over Cuba on New Year's Day 1959.  Rubio's parents came here in 1956.

Fibbed. Crowley Political Report uses the word very deliberately.  A fib is defined as a "small or trivial lie; a minor falsehood."

Continue reading "Marco Rubio fibs, the media goes bonkers and does it really matter" »


Michele Bachmann, Tea Party and those damn airbags

One has to delight in the silliness of Tea Party politics which brings a rigidity to political discourse that should be interesting to watch during the September debates and Florida Republican convention.

We begin the new month with an interesting anniversary. On Sept. 1, 1998, Congress made it mandatory for cars to have airbags. This came 32 years after Congress required automakers to install seatbelts.

This anniversary could unhinge some members of the Tea Party who fervently believe that nearly anything the federal government does is wrong.

Their titular leader, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, may even take on the cause. After all, Bachmann has made fighting for the right to own incandescent bulbs a hallmark of her bid to win the Republican nomination for president.

Mandatory airbags were a result of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act passed by Congress in 1991.  It went into effect on Sept. 1, 1998. 

The ISTEA was passed overwhelmingly. The final conference bill passed the House 372-47.  The Senate approved it 79-8. An interesting side note - both Florida senators at the time, Democrat Bob Graham and Republican Connie Mack - voted against the bill.

What would happen if the airbag bill was being proposed today? Would this be seen as an unnecessary intrusion by the federal government? Would Tea Party supporters rally in congressional districts to fight the proposal?

Would Bachmann add airbags to her light bulb repetoire?

September brings us the Florida GOP's important and not-to-miss, Presidency 5. During the three-day event, which starts Sept. 22, thousands of Florida Republicans will hear from the presidenital candidates.  Those same delegates will then vote in a straw poll.

Presidency 5 begins with a debate hosted by FOX News and a simultaneous event hosted by CPAC will feature speechs by the candidates.

Watch carefully. During that weekend Florida's 4 million Republicans will learn what type of party they have become.

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Dead People's Stuff and Washington Gridlock

Crowley Political Report should have stopped and taken a picture.

On Highway 17, somewhere outside of Savannah, Ga., was this sign outside of a shop - "Dead People's Stuff For Sale."

On this long, deliberately slow road trip, my traveling buddy wonders if the "Gates to the Federal City" will be open by the time we arrive in D.C.

It seems a fair question.

No matter what side of the debate you are on, watching what is happening in Washington is - well - unsettling.

Some argue that this is the most divisive time in the nation's history. If you are one of those, you probably received an "F" in your American History class.

While it may not be the most divisive time, it may be one of  the most clueless times in Washington.

A young lady behind a bar in Charleston, talked about her big move back to the city. She had lived in Florida. A few things went wrong and some years back she said she needed to start over so she returned to Charleston.

She seemed happy.

In 2010, voters told Washington they wanted the Federal City to start over. Is the spectacle of the last few weeks what voters had in mind?

Hardly.

Whether you have "Dead People's Stuff For Sale" or you're tending bar, folks just want Washington to work - so they can work.

Sure there are differences about what that means, but you can be fairly certain it doesn't include gridlock. And it's probably fair to say that nearly everyone is going to be cranky if Washington makes the economy worse.

With the preening and the prancing on Capitol Hill - with their $175,000 a year paychecks and taxpayer funded gyms - the dwellers of the Federal City often seem to forget the guy just trying to make a living.

And Americans work a lot harder at it than the average worker on Capitol Hill.

Like the guy with this sign somewhere near the Georgia/South Carolina border - "Chinese Take-Out, New York Style."

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Tea Party says don't blame Tea Party for debt crisis

TEAPARTY[1]
 
In another Dear Patriots email, the South Florida Tea Party says it "will not be a pawn for Republicans or Democrats."

"We are experiencing an epic level of failure of leadership on all levels and political parties. Fewer than 10 years ago, America was on track to have a budget surplus. Unfortunately, President George W. Bush ran up the deficit by more than $400 million per year, but President Obama managed to spend more than $1 trillion and called it “savings.”

Everett Wilkinson, leader of the South Florida Tea Party, goes on to write:

". . .Now, Washington, D.C., wants to blame the Tea Party for the debt crisis. Senator John McCain even derided us by calling us 'tea party hobbits' in debt ceiling fight. I remember the the famous line from the movie "Josey Wales. "Senator - Don't go pissing down my back and tell me it's raining." I am tired of the excuses. Do your job!" (emphasis is Wilkinson's not Crowley Political Report).

Wilkinson urges Tea Party members to go to DontPissOnMeMcCain.com where one will find several unflattering photos of the Arizona senator who dared to disagree with the Tea Party.

It is one thing for McCain to buck the Tea Party, but can other GOP members of the House and Senate do it without risking loosing their seats next year?

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Art by Chicago artist Brian J. Crowley


FreedomWorks making a profit off fear

FreedomWorks and FreedomWorks Foundation offers itself as watchdogs of the public purse. They are largely credited with helping the Tea Party find a national voice. The organization is led by former Congressman Dick Armey, Boyden Gray and Steve Forbes.

It appears to be a very profitable enterprise.

FreedomWorks also does a pretty good job of taking care of its own purse by charging hefty fees to speak out and campaign on issues.

Here's an example from a FreedomWorks "overview of tools and tactics."

If you are willing to pay from $15,000 to $75,000 "per D.C. or state capitol lobbying trip" FreedomWorks will work for you.

For $25,000 to $35,000, FreedomWorks will "engage an earned media campaign on a certain issue, depending on the intensity of the campaign and Chairman Armey's involvement.

Of course the price of freedom is not cheap. If you want Armey or another FreedomWorks principal to have "formal and informal meetings and phone calls" with top policy makers that ranges from $10,000 to $65,000 "for principal to principal outreach."

Need expert testimony from Armey - $15,000 to $35,000.

Would you like a two-page Capitol Comment or a 10 page Issue Analysis? That will cost you from $15,000 to $50,000.

None of this is unique to FreedomWorks. Other organizations on both sides have similar operations.

Which raises a serious question - is FreedomWorks stoking controversy because that is how they make money? After all, there's no cash when there's no outrage.

FreedomWorks claims 564,000 online activists. That's a lot of people to get fired up. And those folks don't get paid.

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Democrats try to make a few bucks off Allen West's tirade

Well that didn't take long. 

Crowley Political Report just received the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's new fundraising appeal using Republican Congressman Allen West's email outburst against DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz yesterday as a reason why folks should quickly send cash.

They are calling it the "emergency rapid response fund."

Emergency? Really?

Here's the DCCC message:

“You are the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the US House of Representatives... you are not a Lady.”
- Republican Congressman Allen West in an e-mail to
Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Last night, Republican Rep. Allen West sent a disgraceful e-mail outburst to one of our most accomplished colleagues in the House, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, telling her to “shut the heck up” for daring to challenge the GOP plan to gut Medicare and Social Security to pay for tax cuts for billionaires.

I wish I could say I was surprised.

Unfortunately, this is exactly the sort of partisan tantrum we're used to from House Republicans as they push our economy to the brink of disaster while pandering to their Tea Party base.

We can't let this shameful display go unanswered.

Contribute $3 or more right now to help us defeat disgraceful Republicans like Allen West in 2012. My Democratic colleagues are so appalled that they’ve agreed to match all gifts today dollar-for-dollar up to our $100,000 goal.

This kind of appalling behavior is all too familiar from Congressman West, who has riled up his extremist right-wing base by attacking progressive women for “neutering American men,” calling supporters of President Obama, “a threat to the gene pool” and writing for a misogynist magazine that denigrated women with words I'd be ashamed to even repeat.

And now that he’s in Congress, West thinks he can attack a respected legislator like Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz with this kind of hate-filled screed.

Allen West has shown us his true colors, now let’s show him ours.

Contribute right now to help throw Allen West and his Tea Party colleagues out in 2012.

Let’s make sure Republicans don’t forget this moment.

Rep. Steve Israel
DCCC Chairman

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Allen West has a temper tantrum

Congressman-Allen-West-celebrates-Learn-to-Dive-month 
One tries to give Florida Congressman Allen West the benefit of the doubt. Surely, you think, the Republican freshman says some outrageous things simply to appease some of his more fervent supporters.

For example, in a message West sent Monday to his supporters, he closed with, "I must confess, when I see anyone with an Obama 2012 bumper sticker, I recognize them as a threat to the gene pool."

Seems a bit harsh but that's politics. And for West, that was fairly mild.

So weren't we surprised when West turned into a threatening bully after Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz made a passing remark about him during the floor debate about the GOP plan called  "cut, cap and balance."

Wasserman Schultz spoke for 2 minutes, 28 seconds. At about 36 seconds she said:

". . .President Obama has vowed to veto this bill which ends the Medicare guarantee and incredulously the gentleman from Florida, who represents thousands of Medicare  beneficiaries as do I, is supportive of this plan that would increase the cost for Medicare beneficiaries. Unbelievable from a member from South Florida."

Those 20 seconds sent West over the edge.

Continue reading "Allen West has a temper tantrum" »


Why Obama could lose Florida

Obama cartoon Ending with car crashes and a train wreck, the new Republican National Committee ad being shown in Florida more than suggests that the Obama administration has wrecked America.

And the ad takes Obama's 2008 campaign promise of "change" and thows it a back at him. You can see the ad on the next page. Here is the text of the voiceover:

He promised to change direction - $800 billion in stimulus. Trillions for government health care. Two million jobs gone.

Left turn after left turn. America's headed the wrong way fast.

Six million foreclosures. Fourteen trillion in debt. $500 billion in higher taxes. And the worst long term unemployment in generations. Don't let Obama drive us to disaster. Change direction.

This RNC ad basically asks the same questions that Ronald Reagan asked Jimmy Carter during the 1980 election. One week before voters went to the polls, Reagan closed the deal with voters by asking:  "Are you better off than you were four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment...than there was four years ago?"

Those questions are usually reduced to the simpler, "are you better off than you were four years ago?'

Florida Democratic strategists are worried. Several have told Crowley Political Report that they think  2012 could be very difficult. And for good reason.  There has been little sunshine in the Sunshine State since Barack Obama won the White House. Unemployment remains high. Job propects remain gloomy and signs of an economic recovery are few.

Continue reading "Why Obama could lose Florida" »


Sean Hannity asks Mark Foley if he should have gone to jail

(Note: Mark Foley was a 2010 client for ImMEDIAcy Public Relations Inc. Brian Crowley is a principal of ImMEDIAcy).

Crowley Political Report has never been a fan of Sean Hannity but he gave Mark Foley a far tougher interview that one might expect.

Foley appeared on Hannity's FOX show tonight - his first appearance on national television since leaving Congress in 2006 following revelations that he was exchanging explicit computer messages with House pages.

Much of what Foley told Hannity has been revealed previously - he talked about being sexually abused by a Catholic priest when he was 11-years old, how much pain he brought to himself and his family, and he repeatedly took the blame for his actions.

But Hannity was determined not to let Foley off the hook that easily.

Hannity questioned how Foley, as an adult, could send sex messages to teenage boys.  With a look of disgust on his face, Hannity asked Foley how he could square being the leader of the Committee for Exploited Children while at the same time secretly exploiting children

 "There seems to be a missing connection here," Hannity said.

Foley would not say directly whether he thought Weiner should resign instead he said "whatever it is that is troubling him....he is not going to get better going back into that building (Congress).

A few minutes later Hannity asked Foley about punishing people for what Foley had done.

"Should people go to jail for that?" he asked Foley.

"No," said Foley. 

"Should they be arrested>"

"No."

"H0w do they trust them around kids?...."

"....Should I have gone to jail no, absolutely not."

It was not clear whether Hannity agreed.


Exclusive: Mark Foley talks about tonight's appearance with Sean Hannity

Mark foley

(Note: Mark Foley was a 2010 client for ImMEDIAcy Public Relations Inc. Brian Crowley is a principal of ImMEDIAcy).

Former Republican Florida Congressman Mark Foley will make his first national television appearance, since leaving the House in disgrace in 2006, tonight on the Sean Hannity show.

Hannity will be talking to Foley about Capitol Hill's latest sex scandal involving Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner.

Since leaving office in 2006, Foley has been frequently courted by the national media. One of the most persistent was Oprah Winfrey who was eager to have Foley for her final season. Matt Lauer of NBC's Today show and many others also tried to get Foley on the air.

Hannity, until now, like everyone else had been unsuccessful despite many entreaties to Foley.

Why the reluctance? Foley, who spoke to Crowley Political Report frequently about these encounters, always concluded that it simply was not worth it to him or his family to dredge up the past.

Foley, who has his own radio show, said he will not be calling for Weiner to resign.

"I know what he is going through. I know how he and his family are hurting. I know the humiliation you feel when you end your career by pulling the rug out from under yourself," Foley told Crowley Political Report. "He needs to decide for himself what is the right thing to do."

Continue reading "Exclusive: Mark Foley talks about tonight's appearance with Sean Hannity" »


Former Steak House CEO may run for Florida U.S. Senate

Politico is reporting that Craig Miller is meeting with Republicans in Washington to discuss a possible Florida U.S. Senate campaign.

In today's Morning Score report, Miller is said to be "leaning" toward entering the Republican primary which now features Mike Haridopolos, Adam Hasner and George LeMeiux.

Miller, former CEO of Ruth's Chris Steak House, lost a congressional bid last year in Florida's Orlando-area District 24.

Crowley Political Report is still waiting for the last-minute really rich guy who wants to go Washington.

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New York Times photographer challenges White House and Congress

Stephen crowley king 
 First a bit of disclosure - The author of this New York Times item is Washington photographer Stephen Crowley, brother of Crowley Political Report editor Brian E. Crowley.

Stephen Crowley, who has covered politics for more than 25 years, has traveled the world for the New York Times taking pictures in hot spots in Africa, Asia, Afghanistan and numerous other places. He won a Pulitzer Prize as part of a team of photographers shooting in Afghanistan.

Today, Crowley wrote at length about White House manipulation of news events and their recent "restaging" of part of President Obama's announcement about the death of Osama bin Laden. He also questions the release of White House photos that suggest events are far different than the reality.

Crowley expresses deep concern about the new direction of manipulation that results in a less than a candid photographic record of events.

Crowley writes:

In 25 years covering politics, I’ve witnessed many staged events. I cannot recall an event I covered that was restaged.

It’s not that I’m against either. But a staged or restaged situation — often rich in absurdity and unintended humor — is a bit of stagecraft that should be celebrated for exactly what it is: sophistry.

Crowley also expresses concern about the media's use of White House photographs.

Continue reading "New York Times photographer challenges White House and Congress " »


New York, New Jersey get Florida High Speed Rail money

Crowley Political Report is back from a break with this tidbit from the New York Times about how politicos in  New York and New Jersey are snagging the $2.2 billion that Florida Gov. Rick Scott told the Obama administration he didn't want.

According to the NYT - "The federal transportation secretary, Ray Lahood, rode Amtrak to Manhattan to announce that $795 million of the money would go instead toward improvements along the Northeast Corridor, the rail line that runs between Washington and Boston."

"A governor that rejects transportation money is penny-wise and pound-foolish,” said Democratic U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey.

You can read more here.


Marco Rubio is the hot date of the 2012 presidential campaign

Rubiofin1
 
 
Forget Sarah Palin. Who cares about Michele Bachmann. The hot date for the 2012 presidential season is Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

Rubio has become like the hottie in the bar - the more he says "no" the more Republicans want him.

Still, Rubio keeps saying "no" he will not be a candidate for president in 2012.

Crowley Political Report believes him. 

Vice President?  Well that may be something else again.

Watch his interview with ABC News and you decide.

 

 

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Art by Patrick Crowley


Allen West calming down?

AllenWest Reflecting on Florida's Congressman Allen West's speech before the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches Friday, Crowley Political Report has come to the conclusion that the former Army Lt. Colonel may be calming down a bit.

Now this is in relative sense.

West still tosses red meat to the crowd. He still acts as if the United States is in immediate peril of disappearing from the continent.

But his overall tone was, well, calmer.

And the overflow crowd - most of them - loved him.

So what is the appeal?  Mostly, it appears to be that he really believes what he says and pulls no punches. And people - some whom you would least expect, were eating it up.

West will describe the prison facilities at Guantanamo as a "5 star resort" compared to what prisoners are entitled to receive.

And he notes that not only is he pro-life but he believes abortion is an "epidemic" in the black community.

West, 50, describes himself as a "regular guy"  who can outrun the average college kid in a six mile race.

He calls the Tea Party "one of the greatest things" to happen to America - which seems like a helluva of an assessment coming from a man who prides himself on being a student of American history.

West is still a simmering stew of conflicting emotions...but he did appear a touch calmer.

And, he's able to make his audience laugh, even as he warns that there may be doom ahead.

It is an interesting combination.

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Art by Brian J. Crowley, Chicago based artist, illustrator and graphic designer


Rush Limbaugh dreams about Marco Rubio for president

Rushfinal 

Well everyone has to have a dream.

Apparently making tens-of-millions of dollars for chatting on the radio for three hours a day is not a big enough dream for Rush Limbaugh.

Considering the fact that he gets paid for doing what any decent Irishman does over a pint - offer political opinion - you would think Limbaugh would be a happy fellow.

Instead, he finds doom everywhere. His latest solution for saving us from ourselves is Marco Rubio.

Limbaugh loves Rubio. He believes Rubio should run for president and said as much on his program Tuesday.

"I wish the damn guy, I wish the guy would run for president. Marco Rubio."Rubiofin1

The "damn guy" was said with affection.

President? Really?

Based on what? Two months as a United States senator.

Crowley Political Report suspects that Rubio knows better. The Republican freshman is probably enjoying the attention and there is little doubt that he will be a finalist when the eventual GOP nominee is shopping for a running mate.

Meanwhile, take a deep breath Rush and enjoy the ocean view from your Palm Beach mansion.

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Art by Patrick Crowley