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Archive for October, 2011

Elizabeth Warren’s Senate Run

October 11, 2011 Leave a comment
One of the biggest surprises of the Republican victories in the tumultuous 2010 mid-term elections was the election of Republican Scott Brown to the Massachusetts senate seat. Riding a wave of Tea Party support and Republican momentum, Brown out campaigned and out maneuvered a weak Democratic candidate, Martha Coakly, who thought that due to Massachusetts’ historically liberal leanings the senate seat was all but hers. She was mistaken of course and Brown won the senate seat shocking much of the nation.

However, now Scott Brown has a new challenger and holding on to that senate seat as an incumbent might prove to be a bit more difficult than winning it was back in 2010. Elizabeth Warren has recently thrown her hat into the ring for Kennedy’s long held senate seat and is proving a formidable challenger. Warren, a Harvard professor and long time consumer advocate who is mostly known for helping create the Consumer Protection Bureau and then being passed over by Obama to head it, has devoted much of her professional life researching working against large financial special interest groups. In addition to her scholarly work, she was appointed by senator Reid to the TARP oversight committee in 2008 and testified before congress on numerous occasions on financial issues. It was her tenacity and success in this arena that most likely lead Obama to pass her over in hopes that a more moderate head of the newly created Consumer Protection Bureau would be less controversial to newly elected conservative house members, who vowed to block her nomination.

While early predictions either favored Brown or put Brown and Warren neck and neck, a few missteps by Brown and the rising tide of anti-financial sector sentiments have begun to swing the tide slightly in Warren’s favor. Recently, Brown invoked angry sentiments when he made unflattering quips about Warren’s physical appearance when questioned about his nude photo spread in Playgirl. If Brown continues such missteps, and if public opinion against big moneyed interests continue to rise, then Warren, who is seen among many as a stalwart defender of the middle-class consumer against big money, could easily ride that wave to a Democratic victory in 2012.

In fact, it appears that public opinion is beginning so slowly turn. The New York Times reported on October 10, 2011 that Warren is out fundraising Brown and far out fundraising her democratic primary candidates, two of who have withdrawn from the race, and that favorable opinions of her amongst likely voters are growing. Current polls have Warren and Brown tied in the Massachusetts senate race. Not a bad performance for someone who just entered the race a month ago.

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Politics Heating Up – Justice Department Scorching

October 6, 2011 Leave a comment
Politics is heating up across America, and one place the heat is getting absolutely scorching is within the Justice Department. Internal Justice Department documents obtained by media outlets on October 3, 2011 reveal that Attorney General Eric Holder was sent briefings on the controversial ATF gun-running program known as Fast and Furiousin July, 2010, directly contradicting Mr. Holder’s statement to Congress.

On May 3, 2011 Holder stated in a Judiciary Committee hearing “I’m not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.”Of course, the Justice Department now claims that the released memos were discussing a “different case started before Eric Holder became Attorney General”, and Mr. Holder claims to have “misunderstood” the question from the Committee back in May.Operation “Fast and Furious” was a covert ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) program where firearms were legally purchased by straw buyers in the U.S. and then smuggled into Mexico to be sold to drug cartels. Letting the guns “walk” was the term used for allowing the straw purchases to be sent south. The operation remained secret until last December when Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered during a drug interdiction operation. Two guns were recovered from the scene that proved to be part of the Fast and Furious straw purchases, and the operation was publically revealed by ATF whistleblower, John Dodson.

The ostensible purpose of the operation was to track the weapons in order to combat the drug cartels, but many political rivals of the Administration see the operation as cynical ploy to push a domestic gun control agenda, and point to numerous instances of left wing commentary before the Fast and Furious story broke that claimed a connection between lax U.S. gun laws and gun violence in Mexico. Others on the opposite side of the spectrum claim that these operations were the work of “rogue” elements within the ATF and that the gun running operations originated under the auspices of the Bush Administration.

What is clear is that William Newell, the ATF special agent in charge of the Phoenix area where most of the straw purchases occurred, has admitted in sworn testimony that “the DHS, IRS, DEA, ATF, ICE and the Obama Justice Department were all involved” in the Fast and Furious operation. President Obama says he knew nothing about Fast and Furious, even though $10 million in stimulus funds were set aside for the operation in February of 2009 and he referred to “gun tracing” and “gun enforcement policies” in a joint press conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderon in April 2009.

The media’s reluctance to report on this story lends credence to the claim that the media is largely compliant and partisan, but as more facts come to light that illuminate trails leading high up into the Justice Department, the media can no longer ignore the story, and Operation Fast and Furious may become the singular issue of the 2012 Election.