THE COBURN REPORT

Prounounced: coburrr (/kɔ.ˈbɝɹ/)

The Note, in memoriam

ABCNews.com's The Note, RIPA few weeks ago, the single most important public political analysis, ABC News’ The Note, ceased publication. It was at that time replaced with the “mini Note”, a collection of links to other’s stories with no meaningful commentary. It promised a return without explanation.

Well, The Note is once again being published, but a few minutes reading it revealed there’s nothing left worth reading. Confused, I went to googling. According to Mediamatters.org, Mark Halperin, the person who made The Note different and a must-read, has moved on. It’s likely that that move wasn’t voluntary, though no one at ABC is talking.

The new Note is subdivided into oblivion, forcing readers to wonder through 3 divisions in the morning and another evening edition–only to discover that in addition to losing it’s one page, one stop clean format, it’s lost all substance as well. What was once a must-read for everyone in politics, from Karl Rove and James Carville on down to people like me, is now gone. It survives in name only.

Since I’ve linked to media matters, I may as well let you know that they’ve covered The Note and Halperin especially, as a right-wing hack. Mark Halperin was one of the first mainstream media sources to acknowledge the blindingly obvious–that reporters were overwhelmingly liberal, and that it affected their coverage. In doing so he both noted the observations of former CBS employee Bernie Goldberg and criticized similar observations. He kept off-hand track of the Rush Limbaugh show (inasmuch as it reaches millions of people each week–that makes sense)–actual mentions were rare, but true politicos don’t avoid major influential outlets that they’re uncomfortable with. In his book, The Way to Win, Halperin ‘idolizes’ two political genuises, Bill Clinton and Karl Rove (Media Matters makes it sound like it’s just a Rove-fest). His criticisms for both were also considerable. He wasn’t unbiased at all, and his own liberal bias was legendary, for instance, noting and 2004 that reporters needed to stop treating “the lies” of Bush and Kerry as if they were equal–Bush’s ‘lies’, Halperin noted, were much worse and needed to be viewed with much more criticism.

Halperin’s gift was not that he was unbiased, or biased towards the right, it’s that he was an excellent writer and had a gift for bringing “inside politics” to the masses. He knew the field of both politicians and those that cover them in ways no one else does, and he covered them with insight and poise. He wasn’t perfect. He was irreplaceable. The Note is now just as much meaningless blather as every other also-ran political summary (e.g. MSNBC’s “First Read”). ABC just lost the one thing that separated them from the other two worthless broadcast news outlets.

May 4, 2007 Posted by | media | Leave a comment

Pork Offsets: Support the Club For Growth

Were you fooled into believing the Democrats in 2006 were fiscally responsible?  Such that they wouldn’t attach $24 billion in pork to $100 billion in emergency military spending for our troops in harm’s way?  You’re not alone.  Is your republican congressman a RINO, like Ted Stevens?  Is your congressperson giving away your children’s economy for their own reelection campaign?

Well now you can make amends for your mistake.  Today’s pork offset is support for the Club for Growth.  Donate to them, email their news releases to your friends and family, blog them.  The same lies that were told in 2006 will be told in 2008, and the only way to make sure people aren’t fooled is to spread the word now, before the spin machine can get into gear.

Tune in later for more Pork offsets.  The road to pork neutrality is long, but the longest of journeys begins with a single step.  The Democratic party has only been in charge for a couple of months, and already their Pork footprint is enormous, and already they are making efforts to cover it up.

April 10, 2007 Posted by | Politics in Focus, pork offsets | Leave a comment

Pelosi Claims to Carry Message from Israel; Israel says “huh?”

Pelosi, perhaps feeling the heat from her recent junket to Syria, is claiming that she carried a diplomatic overture from Israel to Syrai, from Haaretz:

The Prime Minister’s Office was quick to issue a denial, stating that “what was discussed with the House speaker did not include any change in Israel’s policy, as it has been presented to international parties involved in the matter.” 

According to sources at the Prime Minister’s Office, “Pelosi took part of the things that were said in the meeting, and used what suited her.”

The same sources explained that the decision to issue a statement of denial stemmed from questions from Israeli and foreign press regarding a change in Israel’s official stance on negotiations with Syria. 

Pelosi should probably explain to PM Olmert that in her experience, delivering accurate messages is not a path to success.  In the future, heads-of-state should consider only speaking to upstart unauthorized non-heads-of-state with witnesses present and cameras rolling.  Sometimes those types of people have agendas that don’t include the truth.  Good luck on your next international tour Mr. Speaker,  maybe next year you can ease tensions across the Taiwan Strait with your mad diplomacy skillz.

“We were very pleased with the assurances we received from the president [Assad] that he was ready to resume the peace process. He’s ready to engage in negotiations for peace with Israel,” Pelosi said. 

Speaker Pelosi… Setting back Women’s lib 5 generations.

(via Haaretz, HT BBSnews.net)

April 8, 2007 Posted by | international, Politics in Focus | Leave a comment

Pelosi’s Foreign “Policy”

Boker tov links together two stories on Nancy Pelosi, one on her trip to Syria, the other on her refusal show support for Great Britain, and suggests that we connect the dots.

(Via Boker tov)

April 2, 2007 Posted by | international, Politics in Focus | Leave a comment

Democrats 2008: Don’t Write Off Edwards

For one thing, it’s too early.  For another, being frontrunner is tough, and either Obama or Hillary might need to rest in the wings for a bit and let someone else take some heat.

I think Obama has a lot of novelty shine, and that will wear off under the glare of frontrunner status (the process has already begun). Democrat primary voters do the same sort of “electability” calculus that GOP voters do, and if numbers like Harris Poll Interactive continue, they’ll look for someone who’s already been put through these fires. When Obama’s consistent lack of policies shines though, Edwards’ ready-prepped policy-heavy speeches are there. The New Media (left) will like Obama for being out on the war early, but will compare him disfavorably for more or less voting the same way Hillary has since.  His recent comments on letting a Bush veto go unchallenged, though rational, won’t help either.

Edwards is a little looney, but he’s as sincere as a trial lawyer can be, and a lot better at faking the rest than Clinton. I’m pretty sure women like Edwards more than Hillary, and that as they pay more attention to Clinton, that trend will increase. The New Media (left) will be nice to him, and compare his Iraq apology favorably with Clinton’s blatant triangulation and parsing of words. And the very people who would be put off by his security weakness (Security Moms) will be more focused on his likability, his sympathetic family situation, and a very refined populist message.  Unlike Gore, who couldn’t decide whether he was a populist or a new democrat, and unlike Clinton now, who’s reaching for more votes than she can grasp, Edwards knows who he is, and always has.  That’s going to figure heavily into the Leadership poll numbers.

He beats Obama on substance, and Hillary on sincerity (the real kind and the faked kind) and likability. I think all 3 characteristics will be players, even in a compressed primary. And I think Edwards scores heavily with the New Media (left), especially since all his potential negatives have already been out there, and are 2004’s news. I think the media will also assume in early ’08 that the only foreign policy necessity will be completing an Iraq drawdown, and give Edward’s a break for being a lightweight there. When ‘me-toos’ go to the polls, they’re going to want someone to tell them how to vote, so the leftist bloggers are going to have more say than usual (picking up some of the slack left by the compressed primary schedule, decreased influence of Iowa/NH). I don’t think he’s a shoe-in, but that’s the calculus I see happening in his strategists’ heads. At this moment, I would say Edwards has a slight advantage over both Obama and Clinton.  Unfortunately for them, there are some things money can’t buy. 

The next post in the 2008 Winds series looks at the GOP, and also spends a lot of time on candidates that aren’t frontrunners.

April 2, 2007 Posted by | 2008 Winds | Leave a comment

Pork Offsets

Are you a Democrat that was fooled in 2006 by a party claiming they would clean up the system and protect taxpayer money? Do you have a RINO congressman who’s ‘stealing the bacon’ from your neighbor’s fridge? Are you being manipulated by Big pols (as in Sens. Stevens and Byrd, not people of Polish origin) to sell the next generation down the drain for their reelection campaigns?  Do you feel gulty about it? Good, that’s the first step. Over the next week or so, I’m going to suggest more ways for your to reduce your Pork Footprint and live an Earmark Neutral life. Tune in.

April 2, 2007 Posted by | Politics in Focus | Leave a comment

Senate choose boozes over body armor

The Club for Growth has a tally on a Senate vote defeating one of Tom Coburn’s anti-pork amendments. The vote preserves $100 million in pork for Democrat and GOP conventions in 2008. Most Republicans voted to remove the pork. Most Democrats voted to keep it.

(Pause for readers to recover from their shock)

The Senate just voted down one of Coburn’s amendments, 44-52. The rider to the Iraq emergency supplemental bill would have denied the $100 million earmark to next year’s political party conventions.

As Coburn said previously, “Members will have to make a difficult choice between booze and balloons or body armor and bullets.”

Notably, “conservative” Democrat Sens. Jim Webb and Bob Casey, who replaced former GOP Sens. George Allen and Rick Santorum in 2006 promising fiscal responsibility, voted to keep the pork.

(Via Club For Growth)

April 2, 2007 Posted by | Coburn Watch, Politics in Focus | Leave a comment

Mark Steyn: Not Britain’s Finest Hour

Read the whole thing (link below).

Twenty-seven years ago, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a student in Tehran and is said (by a former Iranian president, for one) to be among those in the U.S. embassy who seized and held American citizens hostage for more than a year.

Today, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is president of Iran and bears less ambiguous responsibility for Western hostages. This time round, they’re British subjects: 15 sailors and Royal Marines.

So we live today in a world of one-way sovereignty: American, British and Iraqi forces in Iraq respect the Syrian and Iranian borders; the Syrians and Iranians do not respect the Iraqi border. Patrolling the Shatt al-Arab at a time of war, the Royal Navy operates under rules of engagement designed by distant fainthearts with an eye to the polite fictions of “international law”: If you’re in a ”warship,” you can’t wage war. If you’re in a ”destroyer,” don’t destroy anything. If you’re in a “frigate,” you’re frigging done for.

(Via Sun-Times)

April 2, 2007 Posted by | international | Leave a comment

McNulty: How to Make a Mountain

Out of Molehill, in 10 Days…

From ABC’s exclusive report on the role of Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty.  Read, and listen as you say to yourself, over and over, “oh no he didn’t…”

The official, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, ignored White House Counsel Harriet Miers and senior lawyers in the Justice Department when he told the committee last month of specific reasons why the administration fired seven U.S. attorneys — and appeared to acknowledge for the first time that politics was behind one dismissal. McNulty’s testimony directly conflicted with the approach Miers advised, according to an unreleased internal White House e-mail described to ABC News. According to that e-mail, sources said, Miers said the administration should take the firm position that it would not comment on personnel issues.

How hard is it to “We do not comment on personnel issues”?  A trained monkey could make the hand signs.

But McNulty, who worked on Capitol Hill 12 years, believed he had little choice but to more fully discuss the circumstances of the attorneys’ firings, according to a a senior Justice Department official familiar the circumstances. McNulty believed the senators would demand additional information, and he was confident he could draw on a long relationship with New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, in explaining in more detail, sources told ABC News.

It keeps getting worse.

(Via ABC)

March 27, 2007 Posted by | Politics in Focus | Leave a comment

The Groundhog Doesn’t Want to See His Shadow

This the end of the culture of corruption. Apparently Democrats weren’t upset that Republicans were corrupt, they were just insulted at how poorly they covered up their crimes. (Emphasis Mine)

Democrats promised reform and instituted “a moratorium” on all earmarks until the system was cleaned up. Now the appropriations committees are privately accepting pork-barrel requests again. But curiously, the scorekeeper on earmarks, the Library of Congress’s Congressional Research Service (CRS)–a publicly funded, nonpartisan federal agency–has suddenly announced it will no longer respond to requests from members of Congress on the size, number or background of earmarks. “They claim it’ll be transparent, but they’re taking away the very data that lets us know what’s really happening,” says Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn. “I’m convinced the appropriations committees are flexing their muscles with CRS.”

But other CRS staffers are happy to talk privately about the political pressure members often exert, despite Mr. Mulhollan’s new directive that all employees inform management within 24 hours of any contacts with the media. “The director operates out of fear members will get upset,” says Dennis Roth, a CRS labor economist who is president of a union representing 250 CRS workers. “The groundhog doesn’t want to see his shadow, so he stays in the dark hole so he won’t.”

“There is real anxiety members will complain if CRS says something is an earmark when the new appropriations committees say it isn’t,” says another CRS staffer. He notes CRS “caught hell” last year with its report finding that more than 95% of all earmarks in fiscal year 2006 bills weren’t written into law and thus not legally binding.

The concern now is that free-spending appropriations committees will use the new CRS gag rule to define earmarks downward.

They did say they were going to ‘clean up’ the system. Excuse me. I’m going to go watch The Godfather.

(Via WSJ, HT Club For Growth)

March 27, 2007 Posted by | Politics in Focus | Leave a comment