On Monday morning, just a week before the recall primary, Scott Walker, with his entourage of Lt. Governor Becky Kleefisch and Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson, comes traipsing to Milwaukee to take a shot at potential recall opponent Mayor[...]
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An odd, and very cute, video.
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After a rambling and nearly-incoherent speech, Newt Gingrich finally dropped his bid for the Republican nomination and Mitt Romney's campaign issued a predictably benign and "hugs all around" statement about it, saying:
?Newt Gingrich has brought creativity and intellectual vitality to American political life. During the course of this campaign, Newt demonstrated both eloquence and fearlessness in advancing conservative ideas. Although he long ago created an enduring place for himself in American history, I am confident that he will continue to make important contributions to our party and to the life of the nation. Ann and I are proud to call Newt and Callista friends and we look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead as we fight to restore America?s promise.?
This would not be news except that Shepard Smith's reaction to that statement was just classic and delicious. I think he should not be working for a channel who is almost always "weird and creepy," but since he is, I've got to say that this should go down in the annals of classic news anchor reactions:
Politics is weird. And creepy. And now, I know, lacks even the loosest attachment to anything like reality.
The facial expressions are as wonderful as the words. While Newt didn't really sing a full-throated praise of Mittens, he did manage to choke out words to the effect that Mitt was still better than President Obama. Of course, the reason Shep was so taken aback was because of statements during the campaign like these:
Shep's right. Politics is weird. And creepy. At least when you've got candidates worshipping at the foot of Saint Ronnie's statue while trashing each other in the process. Also? They're all creepy.
Courtesy of scarce, here's the full five-minute rant with Smith and Ed Rollins:
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This afternoon, Newt Gingrich suspended his campaign for the Republican Party’s nomination for the presidency. While his “suspension” speech began with the usual list of thanks — and even included a self-deprecating joke at the expense of his “moon base” speech — Gingrich also launched into an extended laundry list of his own achievements, up to and including former internships. It was a strange digression, but also in keeping with Gingrich’s rather unique personality. ThinkProgress has compiled the video. Watch it:
Mitt Romney’s held many positions on guns. As a candidate for governor of Massachusetts, Romney offered unequivocal support for gun regulation: ?We do have tough gun laws in Massachusetts ? I support them. I won?t chip away at them. I believe they help protect us, and provide for our safety.? As governor, he made these laws even stronger, signing into law a permanent ban on assault rifles.
The same thing can be said about Romney’s views on immigration. During the GOP presidential primary, Romney frequently staked out the most extreme position on immigration of any of the major candidates. He promised to make undocumented immigrants’ lives so miserable that they flee the country. He promised to veto the DREAM Act, and he even campaigned with the author of Alabama and Arizona’s harsh immigration laws — on Martin Luther King Day. Romney started backtracking away from those positions as well, once he locked down his party’s nomination.
Romney may now be preparing to Etch-a-Sketch his views on guns and immigration even further. The GOP candidate is currently courting an endorsement from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one the nation’s leading advocates for both gun regulation and liberalized immigration policy:
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, have reached a rare consensus: They are both determined to score the endorsement of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, whose name is all but synonymous with Wall Street clout and nonpartisan politics.
On Tuesday, Romney showed up at the mayor’s philanthropic foundation in Manhattan for a secret breakfast meeting. Over coffee and juice, Romney made clear that he was there to pick the mayoral brain: “Tell me what’s on your mind,” he told Bloomberg, according to aides briefed on the 30-minute discussion, which touched on immigration, gun control and education policy.
Bloomberg is not simply a supporter of more robust gun regulation, he may be the nation’s leading advocate on these issues. The Mayor supports closing loopholes so that everyone who buys a gun undergoes a background check. He led a national charge to roll back the so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws that played such a significant role in the Trayvon Martin tragedy. And he co-chairs Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which describes ensuring criminals do not illegally obtain guns as a matter of “life and death.”
Similarly, Bloomberg is a major supporter of the kinds of progressive immigration policies Romney shunned as a primary candidate. Bloomberg proudly describes New York as America’s most immigrant-friendly city. He expanded legal services in his city for immigrants. And he once described our current, restrictive immigration policies as “suicide.”
Now, let’s be clear. Bloomberg is right, and Romney has at times been very wrong, on both the need for sensible gun regulation and the need to repair our immigration policy. If Bloomberg succeeds in convincing Romney to abandon some of his past views, that would be a very positive development, regardless of who Bloomberg ultimately winds up endorsing.
Given Romney’s long history of Etch-a-Sketching, however, it is unlikely that any position Romney announces today will remain his position tomorrow — especially after his uncertain allies in the NRA and the anti-immigrant community react to Romney’s announcement in disgust.
After arriving in Afghanistan’s capitol Kabul to sign a strategic partnership agreement with President Hamid Karzai, President Obama took to the American airwaves to explain the agreement and his broader Afghanistan strategy to the U.S. A few critics on the right — prone to faulting Obama for his every move — sought to bash the president. “Clearly this trip is campaign-related,” said Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), admonishing Obama for a supposed “attempt to shore up his national security credentials” in the 2012 campaign.
But Inhofe’s blatantly political shot is being undermined by members of his own party and their ideological allies, who have either praised Obama or stuck to criticizing the strategy. Asked by CNN’s Dana Bash before the speech if he viewed the trip as “spiking the football” for the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who has been a critic of Obama’s Afghanistan strategy, said, “No, I don’t view it as that.” He also lauded the trip and the strategic agreement:
MCCAIN: I think it’s a good thing. I think it’s always good when the president goes to where young men and women are in harm’s way.
And I think that many of us who have been involved in Afghanistan are very supportive of the strategic partnership agreement, which I’m sure he’ll be talking about, and we think the agreement is good. We obviously would like to know the details.
BASH: …Do you think that this trip is also part of his political campaign?
MCCAIN: No, I can’t accuse the president of that.
Appearing separately on CNN with Wolf Blitzer, Homeland Security Committee chair Rep. Peter King (R-NY) also supported the trip, though he reserved judgement on the agreement until he could view it in detail. King said, “(H)is visit to Afghanistan is perfectly right. I applaud him for doing it.” The Congressman went on:
KING: Well, as president and commander-in-chief, I applaud him being in Afghanistan. I think it’s important for the troops to see the president and certainly after all of these years of fighting where the troops have done such heroic work and did such an outstanding job. I think it’s important for the president to be there and signing the agreement with President Karzai.
…I think it is always very good when the president of the United States can visit a war zone, especially on such a key moment as this.
Watch clips of the interviews with McCain and King:
McCain and King aren’t the only Republicans praising Obama’s trip. Romney foreign policy adviser Max Boot wrote that “substance of the speech” was “somber and serious and largely free of election-year politicking.” Romney himself released a statement that said: “I am pleased that President Obama has returned to Afghanistan. Our troops and the American people deserve to hear from our President about what is at stake in this war.”
The Illinois state senate is preparing to vote on legislation that would boost the state’s minimum wage to $10 an hour, the first increase since an increase to $8.25, the current rate, was phased in over three years starting in 2006. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the increase would raise wages for more than a million workers, particularly women and minorities, who make up a disproportionate share of minimum wage-earners.
Business leaders, as is typical, oppose the increase, which they say will fall disproportionately on small businesses and cost the state jobs, the Decatur Herald-Review reports:
Mike Palmer, marketing and brand manager for the McLean County Chamber of Commerce, said increases in the minimum wage fall disproportionately on small-business owners, who he said are less able to absorb increases in their labor costs.
Despite claims that the increase would lead to job losses, studies of increases in both federal and state minimum wage increases haven’t shown that to be true. In fact, when states across the country boosted their minimum wages at the beginning of 2012, EPI estimated that the additional money in the economy would actually create 3,000 jobs.
Increasing the minimum wage to $10 would make Illinois one of the few states to make today’s minimum wage as strong as it when it was first implemented. While the current federal minimum is $7.25 an hour, it would take an hourly wage of $9.92 to match the minimum wage’s buying power in 1968.
KC Golden, via Climate Access
Have climate campaigners learned the art of political communication too well? We poll and focus group. We segment audiences and target swings. We ?go to people where they?re at? ? activating live communication frames and salient issues. We move the dial. There is tactical merit in all this ? but climate change is not a ?message.? It?s an objective reality and an urgent crisis.
Deception about it will surely go down as history?s most egregious lie. Avoiding or hedging this reality isn?t as bad as denying it, but it reinforces the larger ecosystem of denial. It?s tough to imagine how we begin to turn the tide until we stand tall ? with both feet, whole hearts, and strong, explicit words ? on the side of the truth.
Our sophisticated calibrations about whether, when, and with whom climate change is an effective ?message? have a perverse effect: they reinforce our opponents? message that it?s just a stalking horse for a political agenda. When we bounce around from ?jobs? to ?clean air? to whatever we think will give us a bump in a swing-state poll, we undermine our own integrity and the moral urgency of climate change.
It is of course true that we sometimes gain tactical advantage this way. And no one wants to risk losing important battles just to make a rhetorical point. But overreliance on these maneuvers can limit our power and drain morale. Climate advocates and organizers rightly wonder whether leaders who keep changing the subject have much confidence in our ultimate ability to prevail.
There are certainly hard-headed tactical reasons to downplay climate. But there is also, speaking from personal experience, an element of shame here. A disaster is unfolding on our watch. It?s embarrassing to feel so powerless, and talking about climate just shines a spotlight on our futility.
In political circles, it?s considered naïve and off-key to focus on climate, a sign of insufficient commitment to ?winning,? the only coin of the political realm. Since it?s difficult to construct a politically plausible scenario in which we actually do what?s necessary to avert dangerous climate disruption, practical people find it somewhat rude to discuss. David Roberts memorably equated this to ?flatulence at a cocktail party.?
But there is no strength in shame, and silence makes it worse. Unless and until we square up to climate per se, we?re going to keep losing the war even when we win battles. And we?re going into some key battles right now with our strong hand tied behind our back.
Here?s an immediate example of the problem: Peabody and Arch are trying to justify coal export to Asia by saying their coal is lower in sulfur and ash than Chinese coal. How are we going to fight that if clean air and public health are ? as the polls would have it ? our top messages, and climate is a footnote? Why are we even in the position where using prospective SO2 reductions to justify feeding a global catastrophe doesn?t sound as lame to even our friends as it is? At least in part because we decide that clean air is tactically a better message, and avoid or pussy-foot around climate.
In the coal export battle, we often confront the question ?Somebody?s going ship the coal to Asia, so why shouldn?t we get the [purported] economic benefits?? We can?t definitively promise that if we stop a particular coal export terminal, the same coal won?t be shipped from somewhere else. But we can and should make the case that the whole damned business is wrong ? not just environmentally costly but unconscionable ? no matter what anyone else does. And we can only make that case if we lean into the climate conversation. We can?t draw a credible moral line in the sand ? let alone get more folks on the right side of it ? if we avoid or minimize the climate implications.
Our experience at Climate Solutions suggests (and recent polling confirms) that the tactical risks of talking explicitly about climate are overblown. Yes, it can be a ?loser? as a ?message,? but generally only when we talk like losers ? when we internalize and reiterate our opponents? bad frames. We find that focusing on climate is generally a ?winner? when we:
We all still have a lot to learn about what works in climate communication, and I?m grateful that Climate Access is now on the beat full time. But my primary point here is not: ?Talk more about climate because it?s not as bad of a message as you think.? My point is: Talk about climate because we must ? because tackling it is a moral imperative, and we?ll never convince anyone of that if we keep dodging and weaving around it.
This is not a holier-than-thou thing. Climate Solutions is certainly ?guilty? of tactical aversion to explicit climate conversations. Many passionate, strong, extremely smart people in the climate movement have chosen to de-emphasize climate because they believe it?s the best way to make real progress. Some of them think that to do otherwise ? to emphasize climate when it is demonstrably not the most effective message ? is sentimental and foolish. I respect that view. And none of us will know for sure until we break through, so nobody has a high horse to ride. Nor is the answer black and white: ?Lead with climate at all times? is clearly not the right strategy.
I do know, however, that I can only be effective if I speak the truth about the climate crisis ? strategically, and with a clear understanding of the audience ? but consistently and unapologetically. For my own advocacy, this rationale for focusing on climate in public messaging is sufficient. But it also loops back into a larger strategic consideration: our moral standing.
Many of us share the view that we will never prevail at anything close to the necessary scale until climate action is understood as the moral watershed that it is. Yes, good numbers on jobs are vital. Yes, air quality improvements are compelling, and potentially a useful bridge to climate awareness. Yes, ?co-benefits? abound and we should talk about them all. But none of this is remotely sufficient to a challenge of this scale without the moral driver.
Our standing to pose this moral choice depends critically on our own strength and integrity. Climate leaders can and do simultaneously hold in their hearts the moral imperative for climate solutions and the tactical imperative to use the most effective message to secure substantive victories. But we can?t build a strong enough movement on a foundation of serial political indirection, tactically useful as it may be. It is how the game is played, but we are far enough into this game now to conclude that we can?t win it just by playing it better.
And we certainly shouldn?t confuse our role in the game with the role of political candidates. I can almost forgive politicians who avoid talking about climate, but what?s our excuse? We?re not running for office. We have to change the political game, so candidates can champion climate solutions and win. And to do that, we need both moral power and a climate conversation that won?t quit.
We?d be fools to ignore what our communication research tells us. But we can?t develop the strength we need just by telling people what they want to hear. We have to tell the truth, and act like we believe it.
Google's homepage during the day of action against SOPA and PIPARemember that image? That was how the very bad Stop Online Piracy Act, the bill that threatened the very existence of sites like Daily Kos and any other site with user-generated content, was stopped in its tracks. Google, Wikipedia, Facebook and many, many other internet sites and companies?along with millions of citizens?protested the bill and killed it.
Another very real and similar threat to the internet and all its users exists right now in the Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), passed by the House last week. Purported to be a bill to enhance the security of the nation's critical infrastructure, it's really an attack on any American citizen who uses the internet for about any purpose. Any company doing business on the internet could share your private information with other companies and the government, with no privacy protections because this bill would trump every other privacy law in existence, state and federal. The privacy problems with this bill caused Microsoft to step back and take another look at the bill.
Most recently, Mozilla decided to actively oppose the bill, making it the first Silicon Valley company to stand up for its customers and users. Here's its statement:
While we wholeheartedly support a more secure Internet, CISPA has a broad and alarming reach that goes far beyond Internet security. The bill infringes on our privacy, includes vague definitions of cybersecurity, and grants immunities to companies and government that are too broad around information misuse. We hope the Senate takes the time to fully and openly consider these issues with stakeholder input before moving forward with this legislation.Which brings us to the question: where's the rest of Silicon Valley, and most importantly, where's Google? The short answer is they aren't saying. They lobbied behind closed doors on the House bill, but wouldn't release a statement clarifying what they were lobbying either for or against. Now that it's passed the House, they're still not saying.
If we're going to stop CISPA, like we stopped SOPA, it's going to take companies like Google joining Mozilla in making the privacy rights of users, of American citizens, paramount. It's the least they could do for their loyal users and customers who've made them the success they are.
The end of a campaign is too often treated like the death of a person?say something nice, at least for now, or keep your mouth shut. In the case of the much-belated official demise of Newt Gingrich?s presidential bid, the kid-glove treatment might be considered especially appropriate, given that it also represents the final passage of his long political career. But as Newt said himself, debating Mitt Romney, ?Can we drop a little bit of the pious baloney?? As when a truly terrible human being expires, the only thing worth celebrating here is the death itself. And the thing to mourn is not the loss of Newt on the national political stage, but the time that he spent on it.
Belying his Michelin Man looks and those fabulously nutty notions of moon colonies and such, it?s worth remembering that Gingrich did more damage to the tenor and substance of American politics than anyone alive. Leading the impeachment of President Clinton while he was also having an affair was just the ticket for deepening the public?s cynicism about the hypocritical rottenness of politicians (as is trading on your former office to get filthy rich). As House speaker, Gingrich also brought us government shutdowns as a political tactic?just one of the ways that heError! Hyperlink reference not valid. political polarization and dysfunction the defining characteristics of the way Congress operates. Jonathan Chait sums up the legacy well: ?He redefined the Republican Party as an ideologically disciplined, parliamentary-style party. And, in particular, he made it a party of anti-tax fundamentalism.?
In his surpassingly strange presidential bid, Gingrich had a few moments worth savoring?when he was eviscerating Romney. (The Obama campaign wants to make sure everybody remembers them.) Along the way, he also helped revived the not-so-lost art of race-baiting with his description of Obama as ?the food-stamp president.? And who will soon forget his declaration that child labor laws are ?truly stupid?? This election year?already long, brutish, and nasty?may yield few moments worth celebrating. But seeing Newt Gingrich exit the political stage for good, in utter defeat: We'll drink to that.
Daily Meme: Good Night Ladies, Good Night, Sweet Ladies
Obama leads Romney in two key Southern battleground states, North Carolina (4 points) and Virginia (8 points).