Evan McMorris-Santoro reports from today's Romney event in suburban Northern Virginia where women were front and center. [...]
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Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, on the eve of suspending his roller coaster presidential bid, said in an interview with USA TODAY that he will embrace Mitt Romney’s candidacy Wednesday and is ready to campaign for his former rival. – USA TODAY
A NEUTERED NEWT GINGRICH will endorse Mitt Romney today. Gingrich said he wouldn’t run in 2020. No, I’m not kidding.
Obama reelect promptly jumped on the opportunity to use Gingrich’s words against Romney against him again.
Dave Weigel nailed the problem and dug up the old Kennedy ad above, the facts of which I actually remember from 1980. That I’ve been a student of the Kennedys since I was a kid, coupled with the fact that I stood in gas lines in New York City while Pres. Carter suggested we all put on a sweater, as the hostage crisis ticked on day by day, all make Weigel’s point hit home to me.
Obama’s ad (see below) is just too antiseptic, too easy and predictable.
Both Romney and Obama are cut-out political dolls of the big corporate parties, which all of their ads mimic. I prefer campaigns with grit, gall and lots of heart, which certainly describes Teddy’s 1980 campaign to a tee. Never mind it was hopeless and seen by insiders as disastrous for Democrats, though it was actually more about Carter, but was still one reason Barack Obama didn’t get a challenger this year.
The big question now is whether Mitt will help Newt with his debt, which is an embarrassing example of hubris run amok. If Mitt Romney needs Newt Gingrich, so paying his debt will help him, I’m not sure that says anything good about the GOP nominee.
Newt Gingrich ends his White House dream today with his political committee facing a mountain of debts — owing about $4 million to scores of businesses and campaign workers around the country who fear they will never get paid. – Yahoo! News
Things appear to be looking up for Senate Democrats. While this year will be inherently very tough for Senate Democrats -- they have 23 seats to defend compared to the Republicans who have only 10 seats up this year -- the Democrats recently received[...]
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We pause a moment to commemorate Newt Gingrich suspending his book tour -- uh, his campaign to become President. To a discerning public, he revealed the nature of Mitt Romney's vulture capitalism, exposed its racism and anti-immigrant hatreds, and[...]
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It's May Day, when those of certain faiths celebrate spring with dances round the maypole (a phallic symbol if ever there was one) and jumping over the Beltane fires, along with some other heart-rate raising activities of the fornicatory variety. In[...]
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The current campaign spat over whether Romney would have ordered the raid that killed Bin Laden is based on a series of assumptions that can never be tested. The only facts we can be sure of is that Obama ordered the Pentagon to launch the strike that finally killed bin Laden, his predecessor did not, and Romney said back in 2007 that he would not.
Romney is currently trying to claim that any US President, 'even' Jimmy Carter would have ordered the bin Laden strike (that would be the same President Carter who ordered a risky rescue mission of the embassy hostages in Iran). But here the evidence is against Romney. We have no way of knowing how Romney would have acted in the same circumstances, but we do have Romney's own words in 2007, when he said he criticized then candidate Obama for saying that he would launch a raid into Pakistan to catch bin Laden - Romney said he would not.
John's analysis of the spat seems perfectly fair to me: It is clear that judged by the standards Republicans set for Democrats, Obama deserves the credit for eliminating Bin Laden, who would still be alive if Romney had been president, as Romney made it explicit that he would not go into Pakistan for bin Laden, and that's exactly what Obama did. That is probably the strongest conclusion we will ever be able to draw on the particular question of Bin Laden. But that still leaves open the larger, rather more important question of whether conservatives really want the likes of bin Laden to be eliminated at all, or if they find it rather useful to have a convenient bogeyman around to help buttress their various 'war on terror' proposals.
That Bush and co found Bin Laden useful is beyond dispute. Without 9/11 there could never have been the PATRIOT act, the warrant-less wiretapping, the Gitmo gulag, the torture or the invasion of Iraq. Continuing and extending those policies would only be possible as long as Bin Laden was alive. Whether or not they intended to let Bin Laden escape the Tora Bora it was certainly very, very convenient for Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld.
We don't yet have the evidence to decide whether letting Bin Laden go was intentional but we do now have proof of an earlier and more significant act of conservative treachery and one that shows the true workings of the conservative mind.
In the fall of 2009 the Gorbachev archives accidentally released details of a conversation between Gorbachev and Thatcher that took place two months before the Berlin wall fell. While the provenance of the documents could be debated, the Margret Thatcher Foundation established to burnish her image for posterity is sufficiently convinced of their authenticity to publish them on her Web site
MT: I would like to raise the issue of the situation in the countries of Eastern Europe. I was very impressed by the courage and patriotism of General Jaruzelski in Poland. Of course, for you, the future of Poland and its alliance with you have a big significance. I noted that you calmly accepted the results of the elections in Poland, and, in general, the processes in that country and in other Eastern Europe countries. I understand your position in the following way: you are in favour of each country choosing its own road of development so long as the Warsaw Treaty is intact. I perfectly understand this position.
Now I would like to say something in a very confidential manner, and I would ask you not to record this part of the conversation.
Gorbachev: As you would like.
[The following part of the conversation is recorded from recollections.]
We are very concerned with the processes that are underway in East Germany. It is on the verge of big changes, which are caused by the situation in the society and to some extent by Erich Honecker's illness. The thousands of people escape from the GDR to the FRG are the primary example. All that is the external side things, and it is important for us, but another issue is even more important.
Britain and Western Europe are not interested in the unification of Germany. The words written in the NATO communique may sound different, but disregard them. We do not want the unification of Germany. It would lead to changes in the post-war borders, and we cannot allow that because such a development would undermine the stability of the entire international situation, and could lead to threats to our security.
We are not interested in the destabilization of Eastern Europe or the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact either. Of course, the internal changes are ripe in all the countries of Eastern Europe, but in some countries they are more pronounced, in some countries not yet. However, we are in favour of those processes remaining strictly internal, we will not interfere in them and spur the decommunization [sic] of Eastern Europe. I can tell you that this is also the position of the US President. He sent a telegram to me in Tokyo, in which he asked me to tell you that the United States would not undertake anything that could threaten the security interests of the Soviet Union, or that could be perceived by the Soviet society as a threat. I am fulfilling his requestNote that Thatcher expressly claims to be speaking for President Bush. It is hard to see how she would make such a claim if it was not true since Gorbachev would almost certainly have had a followup conversation with Bush. The language is diplomatic but at minimum Thatcher is stating that the NATO powers would have no problem with the Soviet Union sending in the tanks to crush the 1989 protests that brought democracy to Eastern Europe. It can even be argued that Thatcher is asking for this to happen.
Mitt Romney's campaign is so proud of his newest bumper sticker that they're saying it's "the bumper sticker that says it all":
Even if it could be read, however, it'd still be no match for Joe Biden's bumper sticker:
The following chart from the Center for Responsive Politics represents outside spending by non-candidate and party groups seeking to influence elections in every election cycle going back to 1990. As it demonstrates, such spending was on the rise even before the Supreme Court opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate influence on elections in the Citizens United decision. Nevertheless, another trend is also clear. Prior to Citizens United, which was decided in 2010, left-leaning groups held a moderate-to-significant advantage in election spending. After Citizens United, conservatives absolutely dominated the field:
To be fair, some of the massive disparity in 2012 can be attributed to the contested Republican primary — and was spent on Republican-on-Republican hits rather than on attempts to improve Republicans’ chances against Democrats. Nevertheless, the last two election cycles suggest that conservatives will continue to benefit from Citizens United even once the general election kicks into full gear. Citizens United gave such a boost to Republican candidates that outside spending by conservatives grew by more than $70 million from 2008 to 2010, even though 2008 was a presidential election year and outside spending has historically been much higher in these cycles than in off-year elections.
by David Roberts, via Grist
As I wrote in my last post ? and have been writing for years ? coal is on the decline in the U.S. The biggest driver of this trend is the current low cost of natural gas from fracking, but it also has to do with increasing competition from renewables, the aging of the U.S. coal fleet, organized grassroots opposition, new EPA regulations, and slowing demand for electricity [PDF].
The rapid move away from coal is hitting U.S. coal-mining companies where it hurts. The Wall Street Journal reports on the fortunes of Arch Coal and Alpha Natural Resources, the second- and third-largest coal-mining firms in the U.S.:
On a 52-week basis, shares of both Arch and Alpha are down 72%. ?
Arch is expected to see its profit fall by 44%, to $33 million. Alpha?still struggling to digest Massey Energy Inc. after spending $7.1 billion to acquire the competitor last year?is seen swinging to a first-quarter loss of $18 million, down from a year-ago profit of $49 million.
Peabody Energy, the largest U.S. coal company, says U.S. coal demand will fall by about 10 percent this year. Some utilities are even canceling coal deliveries because they?ve got big stockpiles of unused coal. (Peabody happens to be sheltered from the storm by the fact that it has mines in Australia.)
Now, here?s the key bit:
Arch, Alpha and the rest of the industry hope that increased coal demand from fast-growing China and India will help turn the tide. But that poses additional problems. U.S. companies are scrambling to increase their access to ports in the Gulf Coast and East Coast to ship coal abroad.
Arch?s and Alpha?s export outlooks, as well as sales forecasts for the higher-priced types of coal used in steelmaking, will be key to how investors view the industry?s prospects in the year ahead.
Moral of the story: The health of the U.S. coal industry hinges on its ability to increase exports to China and India.
To some extent this is already happening, as the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported last year. Domestic consumption is falling, exports are rising:
The question for the U.S. coal industry is: Can exports rise fast enough to offset declining domestic demand?
The question for climate hawks is: What happens if exports can?t rise fast enough? More to the point, what happens if climate activists are able to block, slow, or at least raise the political and economic costs of coal exports? The happy answer would be that U.S. coal companies wither and a good bit of U.S. coal stays in the ground.
Here?s the coal export situation, in brief:
Currently, most U.S. coal is shipped out of Gulf Coast and East Coast ports; just seven of the 107 million [PDF] short tons of coal exported from the U.S. in 2011 came from Western ports. (And coal from Western ports has been declining.) This is from Sightline, which has been doing great work on this stuff:
Chart created by Sightline using data from EIA’s Quarterly Coal Report.
However, as the WSJ?s phrase ?scrambling to increase their access? would indicate, those ports are crowded. What?s more, demand has been shifting from the E.U. to China and India, while supply is exploding in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana. Both of those trends create huge incentives for Western exports.
Sure enough, there are six new coal ports (PDF) proposed for the West Coast: Coos Bay, the Port of Morrow (near Boardman), and Port Westward in Oregon; Longview, Bellingham, and Grays Harbor in Washington. If they are all built, the Pacific Northwest will export over 150 million short tons of coal a year, making it one of the world?s largest coal export regions.
Suffice to say, coal ports don?t do much for local economies, in the port towns themselves or on the routes to and from them. Rail traffic would radically increase, crowding out other rail-using commodities, cutting towns in half for hours every day, and leaving a coating of toxic coal dust everywhere. Coal ports employ very few people, but are loud and polluted with diesel fumes and coal dust, which renders waterfronts unsuitable for other commercial or community uses. The increase in export capacity would also prompt new rail lines and more Powder River Basin coal mines, with all the attendant environmental ills. Ironically, all this would happen while the Pacific Northwest?s own energy system is moving steadily away from coal.
So: coal companies would get the profits, Asia would get the coal, and the Northwest would get the pollution and disruption. For more in-depth takes on the impacts of coal ports, see: Coal Export: A History of Failure for Western Ports from Sightline and Exporting Powder River Basin Coal: Risks and Costs, from the Western Organization of Resource Councils.
Anyway, activists are fighting all the ports in one way or another, many for these local reasons. There are some promising signs from officialdom as well: Oregon?s Democratic governor, John Kitzhaber, recently called on the feds to do a sweeping review of proposed ports. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has called for a ?time out? on coal port plans. The EPA has called for a full review of one of the first Oregon ports. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has called for a review of the feds? coal leasing program (which determines Powder River Basin production). They are trying to at least slow down what is an insanely rushed process.
But they?re up against a torrent of money from their corporate opponents, including Big Coal and Big Railroad. And this is no small fight: ?plans for Northwest coal exports ? moving 60 million [metric] tons from Longview, Washington plus 50 million tons from Bellingham, Washington ? would more than double the existing total volume of U.S. coal exports.?
And then there?s the climate angle. Your lay economist unfamiliar with the specifics of global energy markets ? that is to say, most lay economists in the punditosphere ? might protest that blocking particular ports will have no climate benefit. After all, global markets will merely adjust. Coal will flow into Asia from elsewhere, U.S. coal will find other markets, and all the coal will eventually be burned, amen. You squeeze the fossil-fuel balloon somewhere and it pops up elsewhere. You saw a lot of this kind of talk around the Keystone XL fight. ?They?ll just burn the tar-sands oil somewhere else!?
But the argument doesn?t work very well for coal. Last year, economist Thomas M. Power released an analysis ? ?The Greenhouse Gas Impact of Exporting Coal from the West Coast? [PDF] ? that concluded, among other things, that U.S. supply changes really can affect global coal markets and climate outcomes:
Proponents of the coal export terminals consistently claim that the decision to authorize them will have no effect on the total amount of coal that is burned globally, and hence on the global climate. In their view, opening up the West Coast to the export of Powder River Basin coal will only change the source of the coal burned in Asia ? not the total amount. This white paper explains why these arguments are incorrect, and inconsistent with both the basic principles of economics as well as the abundant literature regarding energy use and consumption patterns in Asia.
This paper concludes that the proposed coal export facilities in the Northwest will result in more coal consumption in Asia and undermine China?s progress towards more efficient power generation and usage. Decisions the Northwest makes now will impact Chinese energy habits for the next half-century; the lower coal prices afforded by Northwest coal exports encourage burning coal and discourage the investments in energy efficiency that China has already undertaken. [my emphasis]
This is a case where local activist fights against fossil-fuel projects matter not just for the politics of climate change, but for climate change itself. They matter for China ? how much it pays for coal, how much it burns, and how fast it develops alternatives. And they matter for the U.S. The American coal industry is on the ropes. Preventing export terminals can keep it there.
The activist instinct to harry coal at every stage ? mining, transport, export, power plant ? is the right instinct. Coal is the enemy of the human race. It needs to be kept in the damn ground.
Over 100 people gathered in Ogden, Utah yesterday to rally against anti-LGBT bullying and to hold a candlelight vigil for the community’s recent loss. Many people who spoke at the forum described themselves as “married, straight, and Mormon” but committed to loving family members and neighbors who might be gay. The Utah Pride Center announced the creation of an anti-bullying hotline for youth, parents, and teachers seeking assistance, especially considering the state has no anti-bullying laws in place. Watch a local news report on the forum and vigil: