Soon Rupert Murdoch’s behemoth won’t be the only conservative cable news station around, the founder of One America News Network, set to be unveiled at CPAC today, tells David Freedlander.
A new right-wing news and talk station is coming to cable boxes later this year, The Daily Beast has learned.
The station, called One America News Network, is slated to announce its launch formally at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the annual gathering of conservatives, in Washington on Thursday.
Control room operators at Fox News studios in New York perform a live broadcast of "America Live" with host Megyn Kelly on October 10, 2011. (Jon Vachon/Getty)
The new network is a production of Herring Broadcasting, the San Diego-based company behind Wealth TV, a channel dedicated to appealing to and documenting the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
The conservative movement’s leading lights are little more than a band of right-wing agitators promoting oppo research, says Media Matters for America’s David Brock.
Back in 1994, I spoke at the annual conference of the Conservative Political Action Conference, a who’s who of the conservative movement. I shared the stage with congressional leaders Bob Dole, Newt Gingrich, and Dick Armey; conservative luminaries like Jack Kemp; and neoconservative intellectuals Jeane Kirkpatrick and Bill Bennett.
Newt Gingrich speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., on February 10, 2012. (Evan Vucci/AP)
Perusing the list of CPAC speakers this year gave me a very different glimpse into the state of the conservative movement. Yes, there are the requisite congressional leaders like Mitch McConnell and Eric Cantor and a smattering of future party stalwarts like Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio (though not as many as might be expected: no Chris Christie or Robert McDonnell, both rejected for breaking party orthodoxies). The supporting cast is more revealing.
Other than CPAC regular Ann Coulter, who once said of the 9/11 widows, “I’ve never seen people enjoying their husbands’ deaths so much,” and noted thinker Sarah Palin, by far the most famous personage who will grace the stage is Donald Trump, who revived the birtherism scam as a supposed issue in the 2012 presidential campaign.
Wednesday’s meeting with House Republicans was, like today’s planned confab with GOP senators, an attempt at a thaw. Attendees tell David Catanese what was said—and joked about—behind closed doors.
In his first meeting with House Republicans in two years, President Obama strongly pushed back on the charge that his administration’s top priority is to score political points against the GOP.
President Obama, escorted by House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving (right), arrives on Capitol Hill on Wednesday for closed-door talks with House Speaker John Boehner and the House Republican Conference to discuss the budget. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
“This thing that everything we do is designed to gain a political advantage on you is just not true,” Obama said during a tense but respectful 80-minute meeting Wednesday afternoon in the Capitol basement, according to a source in attendance.
“I got 75 percent of the Hispanic vote. I got 75 percent of the Asian vote. If you tank immigration reform, it would be great for Democrats,” the president continued, offering an example of a policy prescription that wouldn’t necessarily pay dividends for his party.
The annual conservative gathering is always bad, says Michael Tomasky, but this year’s choices of main speakers seem designed to alienate as many Americans as possible.
So March Madness begins today. The basketball tournament? Bah. I mean CPAC. The conference just gets lamer and somehow more bizarre every year, this allegedly marquee gathering of the nation’s conservatives; and this year, with the longest speaking slots going to an irrelevant has-been and America’s most obnoxious man, the trajectory is downward on a scale so operatic and yet so pulverizingly tedious that I have difficulty comprehending it. Can these people really believe they are accomplishing something? On rereading that sentence, I partially take it back. They are accomplishing something, all right: showing America that they are mad as hatters and thereby helping to ensure the election of more Democrats.
Sarah Palin delivers the keynote address to activists from America’s political right at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2012. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
I love, first of all, the irony of this year’s venue. Did I say irony? It occurs that there are more than one. The National Harbor in Prince George’s County is, in certain respects, an attractive enough place; any development sitting right on a river as broad as the Potomac is at that point (more than a mile) would have to be. But it’s an ersatz community built to resemble a real one, in certain ways not unlike the gusher of AstroTurf groups we’ve seen cashing those Koch brothers checks in recent years.
Then of course there is the fact that P.G. County has among the highest percentages of African-Americans of any county in the United States and is also home to one of the country’s largest black, middle-class populations. This reality has delivered the electoral impact you’d expect and then some. Of Maryland’s 24 voting jurisdictions—23 counties plus Baltimore City (Baltimore City and Baltimore County are two different entities)—P.G. County gave Obama his highest support level in the state, at 90 percent, higher even than Baltimore City.
It was the U.S. military’s most notorious security contractor—but it may also have been a virtual extension of the CIA. Eli Lake reports.
Last month a three-year-long federal prosecution of Blackwater collapsed. The government’s 15-felony indictment—on such charges as conspiring to hide purchases of automatic rifles and other weapons from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives—could have led to years of jail time for Blackwater personnel. In the end, however, the government got only misdemeanor guilty pleas by two former executives, each of whom were sentenced to four months of house arrest, three years’ probation, and a fine of $5,000. Prosecutors dropped charges against three other executives named in the suit and abandoned the felony charges altogether.
via office of the King of Jordan
But the most noteworthy thing about the largely failed prosecution wasn’t the outcome. It was the tens of thousands of pages of documents—some declassified—that the litigation left in its wake. These documents illuminate Blackwater’s defense strategy—and it’s a fascinating one: to defeat the charges it was facing, Blackwater built a case not only that it worked with the CIA—which was already widely known—but that it was in many ways an extension of the agency itself.
Founded in 1997 by Erik Prince, heir to an auto-parts family fortune, Blackwater had proved especially useful to the CIA in the early 2000s. “You have to remember where the CIA was after 9/11,” says retired Congressman Pete Hoekstra, who served as the Republican chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence from 2004 to 2006 and later as the ranking member of the committee. “They were gutted in the 1990s. They were sending raw recruits into Afghanistan and other dangerous places. They were looking for skills and capabilities, and they had to go to outside contractors like Blackwater to make sure they could accomplish their mission.”
The Senate will hold hearings today on sexual assault in the armed services. Lloyd Grove reports that the attacks may number as many as 19,000 per year.
When an Air Force general took it upon himself last month to reverse the sexual assault conviction of a lieutenant colonel under his command, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was hopping mad.
“I believe it is a travesty of justice and an outrage,” the New York Democrat told me on Tuesday, on the eve of chairing Wednesday’s daylong Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on sexual assault in the military. “I think it’s disgraceful, and shows the fallibility within the system. It also underscores why we shouldn’t have the type of review that’s in place right now and could undermine an entire jury’s decision."
Lt. Col. James Wilkerson, a fighter pilot and inspector general at Aviano Air Force Base in Italy, was court-martialed and convicted last year on charges of groping the breasts and genitals of a woman who was staying in the spare bedroom of the house where he was living with his wife and child. The sexual assault charge potentially carried a 30-year sentence. Wilkerson was found guilty by unanimous verdict, sentenced to a year in prison and dishonorably discharged without pay, pension, or benefits.
Exercising his prerogative under the military justice system as Wilkerson’s commanding officer—that is, the “convening authority”—Lt. General Craig Franklin tossed out the verdict and reinstated Wilkerson’s previous active-duty status. Franklin’s legal adviser counseled against reversing the court martial, according to news reports. The general, commander of the Third Air Force, offered no explanation for big-footing the jury beyond his opinion that Wilkerson’s guilt was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Could governing have finally begun? Congress finally seems to be taking its budgetary responsibility more seriously, with Paul Ryan presenting his budget and Obama’s to follow. George Schultz, David Walker, and Maya MacGuineas weigh in on the blueprint. By John Avlon.
The budget wars are under way. And that’s a good thing.
It’s been four years since our country has operated with a budget instead of careening between continuing resolutions, always one tantrum away from a government shutdown.
But now House budget chairman Paul Ryan has weighed in with his base-pleasing blueprint. Soon Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) will add her take to the debate. Then, in April, we’re told that President Obama will finally present his budget, presumably building on some of the specifics he laid out in his proposals for a grand bargain. Don’t expect a lot of initial common ground in these competing documents but a process that looks suspiciously like governing has begun.
I don’t want to sound too hopeful here. Congress has shown an unerring ability to screw things up in recent years, propelled by 50 or so House radicals who would just as soon force our nation into default to prove an ideological point. But along with the president’s welcome outreach to Republicans in recent days, there are signs of problem-solving alchemy at work, spurred at least in part by the passage of “No Budget No Pay” legislation that passed in February. With a bit of skin in the game, Congress seems to be taking its budgetary responsibility more seriously.
Ideological purity! Patriots only! The heresy hunters of this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference sniffed out and rejected those who aren’t ‘suitably’ right wing, like Chris Christie and GOProud. It’ll ensure the same losing result, writes Michael Moynihan.
Every year the doyens of the Conservative Political Action Conference issue a series of indirect proclamations on who qualifies as an echt conservative. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie? Not one of us; too chummy with the president during Hurricane Sandy and too squishy on gun control. The gay conservative group GOProud? We’re open to sinners—Newt Gingrich is a scheduled speaker, after all—but not ones who have contempt for the institution of marriage. Donald Trump? A sinner too, on wife No. 3 and pro-abortion rights to boot, he believes that President Obama might have been born in Kenya. Nevertheless, Trump is an “American patriot” popular with conservatives, said one conference organizer.
It’s hardly surprising that CPAC is interested in ideological purity, considering the right-wing confab is organized by the American Conservative Union, a group that provides “legislative rankings” to those in Congress who insist on differentiating between those “who protect liberty as conservatives and those who are truly liberal.” As its website explains, “ACU defines conservatism” (emphasis in original). And that definition seems rather narrow these days.
Chris Christie took on his own party during Hurricane Sandy.
This big-game hunting of RINOs (“Republicans in Name Only”), the replacing of unreliably conservative candidates with the undereducated and unelectable ones, lost the party a number of safe seats in recent years. And as anyone who has attended a recent CPAC has witnessed, the “grassroots activists” of the right—a rather different species from the average Republican voter—seem increasingly incapable of calmly arguing that America is being forced off the road to prosperity and onto the road to serfdom. Concerns about overweening government, which one could manage with sensible anecdotes about debt, drones, and taxes, are punctuated with an invocation of Marx or Mao. (At the 2011 CPAC, I spent 10 bizarre minutes chatting with the president of the John Birch Society, a “co-sponsor” of that year’s event.)
Once a rising star alongside Barack Obama, former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is headed to the clink after being convicted of corruption. Jay Scott Smith on the Motown betrayal.
On one fateful night in Boston, two dynamic speakers made waves at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Both men, young, black, and products of hardscrabble Midwestern cities, were considered rising stars and were getting major exposure on one of the country’s biggest stages. One of those men was a state senator from Illinois named Barack Obama. The other was the charismatic first-term mayor of Detroit: Kwame Kilpatrick.
Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick leaves federal court in Detroit, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (Paul Sancya/AP)
To say that the fortunes of those two men have gone in opposite directions is an understatement. Obama’s DNC speech, which followed Kilpatrick’s that night, helped propel him to national stardom, a seat in the U.S. Senate, and eventually the presidency. On the other hand, Kilpatrick, who narrowly won re-election in 2005 before a sex scandal and perjury conviction cost him the job in September 2008, was convicted on 24 counts including federal racketeering, extortion, mail fraud, and tax evasion on Monday. He was later sent to prison to await sentencing. He is one of 35 former city employees, including other elected officials, to be convicted by the federal government in the past eight years.
“[The jury] said that they recognized that they were the voice of this community,” said U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade. “They recognized that this was not a victimless crime. They saw it as their responsibility to hold these men accountable for their conduct.” Kilpatrick’s lawyers say they are considering an appeal.
Democrats, on the defensive over the sequester, are fighting back. Eleanor Clift on how they are spotlighting cuts in GOP districts.
Stung by the media’s focus on the suspension of White House tours as the symbol of stupid sequester politics, Democrats are fighting back.
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) (C) answers reporters' questions after the weekly House Republican caucus meeting with (L-R) Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT) at the U.S. Capitol March 5, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)
Party sources are busily providing reporters with links to stories around the country that show the impact of the automatic federal budget cuts, with some Republican lawmakers starting to squeal. Congressmen who represent districts that rely on defense spending are especially feeling the pinch, along with those from rural areas where commercial air services are threatened.
The mounting complaints provide some context for President Obama’s visit to Capitol Hill this week, when he will make separate pitches to Republican and Democratic caucuses in both houses to replace the sequester with smarter, short-term cuts, coupled with a commitment to trim entitlement programs in exchange for tax reform and a promise of more revenue.
Right-wing activists love the Texas senator’s anti-establishment persona. Which is strange, because until recently he was the consummate insider. Michelle Cottle reports.
Rand Paul had his 13 hours of filibuster fame last week, but it’s his Senate colleague Ted Cruz who’s really giving the middle finger to that whole idea of upper-chamber comity and decorum. Just a couple of months in, the Texas freshman has made clear his commitment to raising as much hell and as many eyebrows as possible—much to the delight of the Tea Party anti-establishment conservatives who brung him to the dance.
Cruz has taken an unusually aggressive tone for a first-term senator. (Chris Maddaloni/Getty)
Among Cruz’s buzzier moves was to get so ornery at Chuck Hagel’s confirmation hearings—even floating the question of whether Obama’s choice to head the Pentagon might have pocketed money from the North Korean government—that he was publicly spanked by fellow Republicans John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Then there’s Cruz’s assertion that, during his days at Harvard Law, there were at least a dozen Commies on the faculty. (This earned him a shoutout by Obama this weekend during the POTUS’s speech to the press elite of the Gridiron Club: “I can offer you an easy way of remembering the new team. If Ted Cruz calls somebody a communist, then you know they’re in my cabinet.”)
More generally, the new senator reportedly just can’t stop running his mouth in meetings, leading to much anonymous grumbling by colleagues. As one Republican member huffed to Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus, Cruz is “Jim DeMint without the charm.”
You can bet that Paul Ryan’s budget will set the hearts of Washington’s deficit hawks aflutter. Obama should ignore them—and make it clear that jobs, not deficits, are his main priority. By Michael Tomasky.
Paul Ryan’s new budget is now out on its shakedown cruise, as they did with Broadway plays in the old movie musicals about Broadway shows, playing New Haven and Providence before hitting the Great White Way, as it were, when he officially unveils it Wednesday. Early reviews are deservedly brutal, because Ryan assumes the repeal of Obamacare and reverses his position from last year on the $716 billion Medicare savings, over which he and Mitt Romney used to savage Barack Obama but which Ryan now assumes. Even so, something tells me that when the plan is released in full, the “serious” people will applaud the effort and will implore the president to mimic Ryan’s alleged sincerity about deficit reduction. And that makes this week probably the most important week in his presidency for Obama to stand up and refuse to do that.
(L-R) Rep. Paul Ryan and President Barack Obama in March 2013. (AP)
You’ve probably followed what has happened so far. These two Ryan assumptions—about the repeal of Obamacare and his inclusion of the Medicare cuts that only last year he and Romney were calling brutal—expose his entire exercise for what it is: a wholly political act designed to do two things. The first is to maintain Ryan’s viability on the hard right as a 2016 presidential candidate. As I mentioned in a blog post yesterday, failure on his part to assume the repeal of Obamacare could have exposed him to vicious attacks from other wannabes and from the Limbaugh caucus. So there’s no way he could risk that.
Ryan’s second purpose with this budget is more substantive, and it’s the same purpose that drove his first two budgets. He wants to kickstart a process that leads to monstrous cuts in domestic discretionary programs and in entitlements. That’s what he’s really about. He certainly isn’t about balancing the budget. Ryan Budget I achieved balance in 2047. When that was laughed out of the park, he came back with Ryan Budget II, which achieved balance about a decade earlier. Mind you these “achievements of balance” were entirely chimerical anyway, because he wouldn’t say in either budget exactly what he was putting on the table in the realm of revenue, so it was actually impossible to say when they’d be balanced. But in any case, the point is that budgets that achieved balance in 25 or 30-odd years weren’t about attacking the deficit. What he really sought with those first two budgets was not to egg Washington toward deficit hawkery, but to egg it toward cuts to programs he doesn’t like—Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, other projects that assist poor people, keep the air clean, and perform all those bothersome functions that keep America’s potential Galts in chains.
Reince Priebus ventured into deepest Brooklyn on Monday for a photo op and closed-door meeting at Pastor A.R. Bernard’s Christian Cultural Center. Caitlin Dickson on the plan to woo black voters.
Political reporters from all over New York City trekked deep into Brooklyn on Monday to catch a glimpse of the Republican Party’s African-American outreach in action. On the last leg of his post-election reflection tour, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus was in the city to hear from members of the black community about what the GOP needs to do to win them over. On top of the intrigue provided by that dynamic, the gathering at a megachurch in East New York was to be hosted by Pastor A.R. Bernard, whom state GOP chairman Ed Cox has been urging to run for New York City mayor. This was going to be good.
RNC chairman Reince Priebus gestures as he speaks at the start of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 27, 2012, in Tampa. (Mark Wilson/Getty)
Nestled between the public-housing projects and bus depots that line Brooklyn’s busy Flatlands Avenue, the Christian Cultural Center appears from behind a barrier of trees like some kind of oasis. Bernard’s behemoth of a church takes up 11.5 acres of land and boasts 37,000 members, and the pastor has become one of the city’s most influential players. As Cox noted while introducing Priebus at the outset of the meeting, Bernard was one of the people Michael Bloomberg consulted before his first mayoral run. “This is a place where the pastor doesn’t visit the politicians, the politicians come to the pastor,” Cox said.
On a stage set up in the CCC’s entryway, to the left of the massive aquarium and to the right of the nursery school, Bernard, Cox, and Priebus gave at least 20 members of the press the chance to ask a few questions before closing the door on the meeting.
A historical what-if with lessons for today.
Americans are watching, with frustration and resentment, the politics of obstruction convulsing the nation’s capital. Since the inauguration of President Obama in 2009, congressional Republicans have blocked many initiatives, programs, and appointments, with the sequestration crisis the latest act in the drama. The bitterness generated by these tactics has poisoned the wells of politics throughout the United States.
Confederate soldiers charge during a re-enactment of the Battle of Gettysburg. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
While enduring this politics of obstruction, we have thronged to the nation’s movie theaters to watch Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. This remarkable film portrays the nation’s 16th president, as he struggled to bring the Civil War to a victorious close while seeking approval, by the House of Representatives, of a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery. Historians disagree about the movie’s treatment of history, but Lincoln does an impressive job of capturing the complicated, contentious political world of 1865.
Lincoln is part of the nation’s oddly quiet commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. We still struggle with how to understand the war, the history that it made, and its consequences for posterity. One question that is not generally addressed, however, has to do with the decision by 11 Southern states to vote to leave the Union in 1860–61. What if those states had pursued a different strategy?
Without controls to stem the influence of wealthy donors, expect money to talk very loudly, writes Robert Maguire of the Center for Responsive Politics.
In the dead of night on April 7, 1972, Archer Daniels Midland CEO Dwayne Andreas slipped $25,000 into a safe-deposit box near his Florida home. The funds—destined for Richard Nixon’s Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP)—were entirely legal, if by a matter of minutes. They arrived moments before midnight, April 8, when the Federal Elections Campaign Act (FECA) went into effect, rendering such anonymous contributions to candidates illegal.
Dwayne Andreas in 1995 and Sheldon Adelson in 2012. (AP )
The donation was a sliver of the $122,000 Andreas ultimately gave to Nixon’s reelection, and generous though it was, he had also given $150,000 to an old friend, former vice president Hubert Humphrey, one of Nixon’s Democratic opponents.
Yet, it was that $25,000—placed so carefully on the dark side of the cusp between the old and the new world of campaign finance—that made its way through CREEP and into the bank account of White House “plumber” Bernard Barker, whose burglary of the Democratic National Convention offices at the Watergate Hotel would ultimately lead to the resignation of President Nixon.
Eric Nordstrom, who worked at the Benghazi consulate on the day it was attacked, choked up during Wednesday's hearings. 'It matters,' he said, that the committee investigate what happened before, during, and after the siege.
Corry Booker’s the hero mayor of Newark, and, yes, he’s running for Senate. By Lloyd Grove
The president’s push for $9 an hour has the GOP on the defensive. Eleanor Clift on the strategy behind the move. But this push could take the politics out of the perennial argument.
Meet the new Treasury secretary, same as the old Treasury secretary. Lloyd Green on nominee Jack Lew.
For John Kael Weston and other men on the frontlines of Iraq and Afghanistan drone strikes raise many uncomfortable questions. He writes on why we need clearer policy and guidelines for these silent killers.