Blog Posts by Chris Moody

  • All the world's a stage, and all the politicians merely players

    [Brought to you by Big Tobacco]

    Reps. Michael Grimm (R-NY) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif) dress up for Will on the Hill. (Photo: Shakespeare Theatre Company)Reps. Michael Grimm (R-NY) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif) dress up for Will on the Hill. (Photo: Shakespeare Theatre Company)

    Members of Congress dressed in ill-fitting costumes gathered in Washington on Tuesday, where they dramatically recited lines someone else wrote for them in front of an audience that struggled at times to understand the meaning of their words.

    Then, when they finished their normal day’s work at the Capitol Building, 16 of them hoofed it to a nearby theater and performed a little Shakespeare.

    House lawmakers joined a group of journalists on Tuesday night at Sidney Harman Hall for the annual “Will on the Hill” charity play, where aspiring thespians displayed the acting skills they have so carefully honed during their careers on Capitol Hill.

    Their performance combined lines from Shakespeare with a modern political storyline, complete with characters who played journalists, NSA agents, candidates, “concerned citizens,” super PAC founders, a blogger and even one “tweeter.”

    But aye, here’s the rub: Much like the politicians themselves, the event was underwritten by a host of corporate

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  • Koch network jabs Harry Reid through youth outreach group

    Reid has been one of the Kochs' fiercest critics

    Bankor chats up members of Congress in the first episode of The Kronies.Bankor chats up members of Congress in the first episode of The Kronies.

    A group backed by Charles and David Koch’s donor network released an online cartoon poking fun at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has relentlessly criticized the politically active billionaire brothers for months.

    Generation Opportunity, a libertarian advocacy group that does outreach to young voters, released the first episode of an educational cartoon series called “The Kronies” on Monday. In the video, the Kronies  GI Joe-style villains for the libertarian set take aim at “crony capitalists” and lawmakers who use their power to benefit well-connected corporations. A teaser for the video series had appeared online in January, but it was unclear who would be funding it until Yahoo News reported that the videos were part of a Generation Opportunity project that would be released publicly later in the year. Generation Opportunity received about $9 million in funding from groups aligned with the Koch-organized donor network as of last fall.

    The first episode takes on the U.S.

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  • Eric Cantor was criticized for being too cozy with big business. Who funds Kevin McCarthy?

    Take a wild guess

    One of economic professor David Brat’s central criticisms of Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor was that the House majority leader was too cozy with big business, leaving him more concerned about his relationships with K Street lobbyists than with his constituents.

    Although there are many reasons for Cantor’s shocking defeat last week, Brat’s attacks on the appearance of “crony capitalism” do seem to have resonated with voters in Virginia’s 7th District. Cantor’s ouster forced House Republicans to choose a new leader, and all signs suggest that they will choose House Whip Kevin McCarthy, who has launched an aggressive campaign for the post over the past week, when Cantor steps down from House leadership at the end of July.

    But those expecting a real leadership shakeup from the replacement of Cantor by McCarthy will have to keep waiting. On policy, conservatives say McCarthy doesn’t represent much change at all — and may even be more moderate than the outgoing Cantor. And when it comes to

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  • This is how President Obama pronounces 'GIF'

    Obama goes all in for the hard 'G'

    This is a GIF.This is a GIF.

    President Barack Obama took sides on one of the most divisive debates in the history of the English language this week by declaring that the word “GIF” — an acronym for Graphics Interchange Format —is pronounced with a hard “G” sound,” as one would pronounce “gift,” “gaffe” or the “G” in “Benghazi.”

    The president announced his decision during a meeting with Tumblr CEO David Karp at the White House on Tuesday.

    "That is my official position,” Obama said, before posing for a GIF with Karp, who was in Washington to host a discussion on student loan reform. “I pondered it a long time."

    The word’s pronunciation has been a point of contention for years. In 2013, the man who invented GIFs, Steve Wilhite, said the word should be pronounced "jif," although his announcement did little to quell the linguistic debate. (Because honestly, who pronounces “graphic” as “jraphic”?)

    Obama’s decision will be unlikely to end the dispute, however, and his action could embolden Republicans to start calling

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  • Everything you've ever wanted to know about the Koch brothers, in two books

    Get your fill with 'Sons of Wichita' and 'Big Money'

    Beyond the confines of libertarian organizations, sailboat racing clubs, Manhattan socialite circles and the borders of Kansas, the words “Koch brothers” didn’t mean much to most Americans before 2010. That was when the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer revealed to a broad audience how two of the four brothers — Charles and David Koch — were building a multimillion-dollar shadow campaign against President Barack Obama’s new administration.

    Mayer’s piece, and the subsequent tsunami of Koch coverage that followed, have thrust Charles and David Koch into the mainstream political spotlight, turning them from obscure, private businessmen into poster children for a new era of big money politics.

    Through their series of closed-door seminars, in which an elite group of wealthy conservatives and libertarians have gathered twice a year since 2003 to raise money for right-wing causes, the Kochs have engineered a fundraising goliath that spent $400 million against Democrats in the 2012 election alone. That

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  • Washington is caught totally off guard by Cantor loss

    The second-highest ranking Republican in the House goes down, and no one saw it coming

    US House Majority Leader US Rep. Eric Cantor. (AFP/Getty Images)US House Majority Leader US Rep. Eric Cantor. (AFP/Getty Images)

    (Click for slide show)

    Everyone--the pundits, the pollsters, the pols, the hacks, the flacks, the friends, the supporters, the opponents, the winner, the loser—was shocked by Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s crushing primary defeat by a man named David Brat, a little-known economics professor who will likely be the next congressman from Virginia’s District Seven.

    In a wholly unexpected upset, Brat took down the second most powerful Republican in the House, a lawmaker with 13 years of hard-earned Beltway clout who was within arms reach of becoming the next Speaker of the House. Brat’s victory represents the greatest coup yet for voters and candidates closely aligned with the insurgent tea party faction of the Republican Party and who see today’s GOP leaders as insufficiently willing to hold the line on conservative issues.

    For a sense of just how unexpected Cantor’s loss was, Tuesday’s upset was the first time a sitting House Majority Leader has lost a race since the job

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  • Obama ignored the law to free Bergdahl. Don’t expect the Senate to do much about it.

    McCain: 'What can they do, impeach him?'

    Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. walks to the Senate chamber following a closed-door briefing with intelligence officials (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. walks to the Senate chamber following a closed-door briefing with intelligence officials (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    Senators are frustrated with President Barack Obama for ignoring a legal provision requiring the secretary of defense to notify Congress 30 days before releasing detainees from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    And members of the Senate from both parties don’t really know what they can do about it.

    The administration last week swapped five alleged enemy combatants in exchange for the freedom of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who has been held captive in Afghanistan since 2009. But the Defense Department did not inform Congress until after the deal was done.

    On Wednesday, senators from both parties — including the chairmen of the Senate committees responsible for oversight on national security and intelligence issues — suggested in Capitol Hill interviews that there was little they could do in response to the White House’s decision to ignore the letter of the law.

    Obama announced the secret deal last Saturday during a ceremony with Bergdahl’s parents in the Rose Garden at the

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  • How one Koch-backed group is selling immigration reform to the tea party

    The LIBRE Initiative conducts outreach to Hispanics — and also to fellow conservatives

    Daniel Garza had spoken for 30 minutes at a May meeting of the Scottsdale Tea Party about conservative outreach to Hispanics when he paused and focused on a set of notes in front of him.

    “This is where I’m going to be a little bit more scripted, if you don’t mind,” Garza, the Texas-based director of a conservative Hispanic group called the LIBRE Initiative, told the gathering of about 50 tea party members before making the case for reforming U.S. immigration laws.

    “Let me start by saying, I talked about opportunity,” he said. “I do not fear waves of poor immigrants coming to America. I fear a government, a government that would hinder opportunities for those poor. Our nation was built — was made wealthy, was made prosperous and powerful — by immigrants who were poor, who came here and had the opportunity to prosper, to create wealth, to earn and to risk, and to make life better for their children.”

    Garza outlined a point-by-point case in favor of providing legal status to 11 million

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  • In 2008, Rand Paul called coal 'one of the least favorable forms of energy'

    This week Paul slammed Obama for his plan to cut carbon emissions

    Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul slammed the Obama administration Monday for announcing a plan to reduce carbon output from power plants — particularly coal — despite having himself heaved criticism at coal, calling it in 2008 “one of the least favorable forms of energy.”

    "This latest assault on our economy by President Obama will destroy jobs here in Kentucky and across the country, and will hurt middle class families by hiking their utility bills and straining their budgets,” Paul said in a statement Monday after the Environmental Protection Agency announced an aggressive plan to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030. The administration’s proposed rule is aimed at curbing the effects of global warming by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.

    “The excessive rule is an illegal use of executive power, and I will force a vote to repeal it,” Paul said.

    But comments the Kentuckian made six years ago may suggest he once shared views similar to Barack

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  • Meet the people trying to make Bitcoin happen in Washington

    It's like explaining the Internet to grandma in 1992

    Hank Aaron was just one long ball away from beating Babe Ruth’s career home run record when, on April 8, 1974, he launched a ball high and deep toward the left field wall of Atlanta’s Fulton County stadium. It sailed over the fence and landed in front of a BankAmericard billboard, cementing Aaron’s record as the home run king. The ad, which pictured a credit card, featured this historic pitch: “Think Of It As Money.

    At the time, the concept of using a plastic credit card instead of cash or checks was foreign to many Americans. The BankAmericard ad campaign was an attempt to convince consumers and merchants that money can come in more forms than they were used to.

    Forty years later, the early adopters of Bitcoin, a decentralized online protocol that facilitates a rapidly growing peer-to-peer network to exchange virtual money, face similar challenges as they seek to bring their cryptocurrency into the financial mainstream.

    Though Bitcoin was introduced in 2009, most Americans still

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