TPM News

Hassan Nemazee may not be a household name. But as Democrats returned to power over the last few election cycles, the New York financier -- who yesterday was charged with running a $292 million Ponzi scheme -- has been among the most important players in drumming up the campaign funds that have enabled that success.

Let's start with the 2004 cycle. Nemazee had been a top fundraiser for the Clintons in the 1990s, but he appears to have courted John Kerry since at least 2002. By January 2004, he was described in news reports (via Nexis) as "one of Kerry's chief fundraisers." Subsequent reports from that year describe him as Kerry's "New York City finance chair."

Read More →

Remember the strange case of Norman Hsu that roiled the Hillary Clinton campaign during the Democratic primary back in 2007?

Hsu was a top bundler for the campaign who was found to have hidden his past as a crook and Hillary was forced to return over $800,000 in donations. He later plead guilty to a Ponzi scheme and was convicted on campaign finance charges.

Hsu, who currently resides in federal prison, reimbursed so-called "straw donors" drawn from his fraudulent business to get around contribution limits.

At the time of the crisis, Hassan Nemazee, indicted yesterday in his own alleged Ponzi scheme -- considerably larger than Hsu's $20 million operation -- was a national finance chair for the Hillary campaign.

And guess who the campaign dispatched to talk to reporters to tamp down the Hsu story? One Hassan Nemazee.

Read More →

Former Bush Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has a pretty sharp message for Democratic lawmakers who don't want to send more U.S. troops to an unpopular war in Afghanistan that seems to be getting worse.

"If you want another terrorist attack in the U.S., abandon Afghanistan," she said.

Read More →

Speaking to UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon's climate change summit this morning, President Obama spoke of the progress the U.S. has made on sustainable energy, but warned, "We did not come here to celebrate progress. We came because there's so much more progress to be made, so much more work to be done."

Speaking of the world as a whole, he said, "The hardest part of our journey is still ahead of us."

He pointed out American efforts to reign in greenhouse gases, including initiatives to capture carbon, build off-shore wind farms, phase out subsidies for fossil fuel and tracking, for the first time, how much greenhouse gas pollution the country is creating. He also urged fellow leaders of industrialized nations to help poorer countries fight climate change and create low-impact development.

"We understand the gravity of the climate threat," he said.

Obama looked forward to December's international climate change summit in Copenhagen. "We must seize the opportunity to make Copenhagen a significant step forward in the fight against climate change."

He lauded the energy bill currently in Congress, even though it won't be passed before Copenhagen, as his administration had previously hoped.

"We'll fight for every inch of progress, even when it comes in fits and starts. .. We resolve to work tirelessly in common effort," he said.

Is Humana just the tip of the iceberg?

Yesterday we reported on the campaign by health insurer Humana Inc. to enlist beneficiaries to lobby lawmakers against a key cost-saving measure in Sen. Max Baucus's health-reform bill. Humana's letters to its customers, urging them to contact their member of Congress, are currently being probed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which contracts with Humana, among other firms, to provide Medicare Advantage.

Read More →

Tom DeLay made his much-awaited (by TPM, at least) Dancing With The Stars debut last night, turning in a not-altogether-embarrassing rendition of the cha-cha-cha, with a lot of hip action.

DeLay, dressed in an all-brown outfit with sequined leopard-print trim on the vest, opened up "Wild Thing" by wailing on an air guitar and then lip-synced throughout the whole thing. His partner, Cheryl Burke, wore a skimpy red and leopard-print outfit -- not what you'd call "conservative."

He was stiff but not terrible, and the judges gave the pair a 16 out of a possible 30.

One of the judges, Carrie Anne Inaba, said the performance was "surreal" but told DeLay he has a "natural grace."

He even did an extra, entirely unsolicited ass-shake for the judges.


As Burke (who we interviewed about the experience a few weeks ago) said on the show, "A lot of sexy hip shaking is not up his alley."

DeLay and Burke also danced a Viennese waltz.

Read More →

Below is the text of President Obama's remarks on climate change as prepared for delivery to the UN Climate Change Summit in New York on Tuesday, September 22.

Good morning. I want to thank the Secretary-General for organizing this summit, and all the leaders who are participating. That so many of us are here today is a recognition that the threat from climate change is serious, it is urgent, and it is growing. Our generation's response to this challenge will be judged by history, for if we fail to meet it - boldly, swiftly, and together - we risk consigning future generations to an irreversible catastrophe.

No nation, however large or small, wealthy or poor, can escape the impact of climate change. Rising sea levels threaten every coastline. More powerful storms and floods threaten every continent. More frequent drought and crop failures breed hunger and conflict in places where hunger and conflict already thrive. On shrinking islands, families are already being forced to flee their homes as climate refugees. The security and stability of each nation and all peoples - our prosperity, our health, our safety - are in jeopardy. And the time we have to reverse this tide is running out.

And yet, we can reverse it. John F. Kennedy once observed that "Our problems are man-made, therefore they may be solved by man." It is true that for too many years, mankind has been slow to respond to or even recognize the magnitude of the climate threat. It is true of my own country as well. We recognize that. But this is a new day. It is a new era. And I am proud to say that the United States has done more to promote clean energy and reduce carbon pollution in the last eight months than at any other time in our history.

Read More →

The Senate Finance Committee today will begin considering amendments and compromises to a long-awaited, and controversial health care bill in a much anticipated hearing chaired by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT). The panel will vote on hundreds of changes to the legislation, with the goal of passing the package quickly on either a partisan basis, or with the support of one Republican: Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

Among the proposed changes include the addition of a public option, a "triggered" public option, enhanced subsidies for middle-class insurance consumers, and a modification to improve the troubled employer mandate provision.

Some committee Democrats have said they'd need to see significant changes to the bill before they can support it. We'll be keeping a close eye on the proceedings, so check back here for important updates.

As part of his media blitz in support of health care reform, President Obama appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman Monday night. The two talked health care as well as the economy, race and kids.

Obama outlined the state of play for health care, saying insurance premiums are going up and employers -- who are "hammered" -- are increasingly dropping people from their plans. He said that, without reform, in five or 10 years many more people won't have health insurance. Further, he said, the government will go bankrupt from health care costs.

"We're closer than we've ever been," he said. "People are gonna realize this was the right way to go."

Of the anger the country's seen lately, Obama brushed off claims that it's based in racism.

"I think it's important to realize I was actually black before the election," he said.

"Whenever a President tries to bring about significant changes, particularly around times of economic unease, there's a certain segment of the population that gets riled up," he said. "It's not atypical. One of the things you sign up for in politics is, folks yell at you."

Read More →

In a timely profile this morning by Roll Call's Emily Pierce, Senate Majority Leader explains in his own words something I reported last night.

Reid said he is hopeful the Massachusetts Legislature will soon vote to allow the governor to appoint a replacement for Kennedy so he will again be able to call on 60 Senators, but he said that has not stopped Democrats from pursuing one of the few Republicans seen as open to bipartisan compromise -- Snowe.

"They're working on a Senator up in Massachusetts," Reid said. "There are different ways we can get to 60 votes. It's not just dependent totally on her. I hope we can [get Snowe's vote]. She's a good legislator."

But he said he is doing everything he can to avoid using reconciliation to pass health care reform.

"I would rather do a bill that we can get 60 votes on, either on a bipartisan basis or a partisan basis," he said.

If and when Democrats have a 60 vote majority, that changes the calculus somewhat. And though Snowe will continue to be a focal point of negotiations, the ultimate onus for the passage of health care reform will ultimately be on Democrats.