Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus, the elections official who lost and then found more than 14,000 votes during a high profile state supreme court race last year, gave up her official vote counting duties for the upcoming Wisconsin recall election. As a statement by County Executive Dan Vrakas makes clear, this decision was not entirely voluntary. “In a meeting this afternoon I presented two options to Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus,” Vrakas explained, “resignation, or designating the Deputy Clerk to run the upcoming recall election.” Vrakas presented this choice to Nickolaus after she botched yet another vote count during this week’s primary election.
The Roman Catholic Church is cutting off thousands of dollars in aid to a small nonprofit organization providing access to health care and other basic services in protest of its “membership in an immigrant rights coalition that had joined forces with a statewide gay and lesbian advocacy group.” The organization, Compañeros, operates in rural southwestern Colorado, focusing “on economic empowerment and encourag[ing] immigrant community members to establish their own businesses.”
The connection between Compañeros and the LGBT equality organization One Colorado is tenuous. Compañeros is affiliated with the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC), which began a partnership with One Colorado, an organization that opposes discrimination against LGBT people. As Theresa M. Trujillo, the vice president of the immigrant coalition?s board, put it: “The Catholic Church is punishing Compañeros for having a relationship with an organization that has a relationship with an organization whose mission it is to have equality for L.G.B.T. folks.”
But the Church’s decision is part of a growing effort by conservative forces to separate its finances from any organization that is remotely affiliated with causes that they see as undermining religious doctrine, a push that is at times detrimental to the Church’s main mission of helping the poor:
Since 2010, nine groups from across the country have lost financing from the campaign because of conflicts with Catholic principles, according to the campaign?s director, Ralph McCloud. Others have simply chosen not to apply ? or reapply ? for funds. Mr. McCloud said the Compañeros case was being reviewed and no final decision had been made.
Compañeros was told that unless it withdrew from the coalition, Ms. Mosher said, the group would lose money it got each year.
?I was shocked that our money was all of a sudden in jeopardy, and confused about why,? Ms. Mosher said. ?We have no reason to believe that we are in any way going against Catholic teachings. If they are willing to defund our program based on an affiliation, it sends a clear message of divisiveness.?
Some bishops are pushing back against the campaign, noting that the Church’s opposition to gay and lesbian rights should not trump its efforts to fight poverty. ?What is apparent is that these conservative groups are succeeding in subverting the mission of…the most important antipoverty foundation in America,? James Salt, executive director of Catholics United, told the New York Times. Several leaders on the Catholic Bishop’s antipoverty and domestic justice and human development campaigns have also sent a memo to the Church noting, ?We rely on the judgment of the local bishop and diocese, not the repeated accusations of those with clear ideological and ecclesial agendas.”
Compañeros’ website states, “Compañeros has not taken a position on marriage equality and is being denied half its funding simply for being associated with CIRC.”
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In this edition: debates over forecasting models, the Republican primary's climax and the fallout over a Supreme Court hearing on the Affordable Care Act. Also, an all-jobs-report edition of Reads
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Yesterday, at The Washington Post, Ezra Klein argued that Mitt Romney is a much stronger general election candidate than he might look at first glance. As Klein points out, there?s no way that a moderate governor of Massachusetts wins the nomination in a red-blooded GOP without some political skill. Moreover, Romney?s big weakness in the primary?his record for centrism?could become an asset in the fall; it gives him a place from which he can appeal to moderate and independent voters. And above all else, Klein notes, is the fact that external factors?the economy, or foreign policy?could take their toll on Obama and elevate Romney to the White House.
On each count, I?m skeptical. For starters, I?m not sure that Romney won the nomination as much as it is that Republicans resigned themselves to Romney?s candidacy, and organized around him once it became clear that there were no other alternatives. As it stands, Romney took real damage from Rick Santorum, a failed former senator who ran a shoestring campaign, and came away with the second place spot. If Romney had faced a credible challenger with substantial resources, there?s a fair chance that Republicans would have gone elsewhere for their nominee.
What?s more, even if you take the view that Romney convinced Republicans to support him, it?s not as if he offered the GOP a particular or compelling vision of the future; by and large, he has presented himself as a cipher whose views are subordinate to his loyalty. Given a choice between this, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Rick Perry, it?s no surprise that Romney came out on top.
If this is the case, there?s no way that Romney can lean on his moderate record; he?ll need to do as much as he can to show Republicans that he is committed to the cause. Klein suggests that he could show daring by putting Paul Ryan on the ticket, but to me, that?s a sign of weakness?to run with the author of the most radical budget proposal in years, and to present it as a vision for the future, is to give yourself completely to the right-most pole of the Republican Party, in the hope that they?ll stay on your side. By contrast, a nominee who didn?t have to worry about energizing his base would be free to put a moderate on the ticket.
But regardless of what Romney does, we can?t forget that the Obama campaign will be working overtime to tie the former governor to the far right of is party, and prevent him from making a pivot to the center. And that?s in addition to the fact that they?ll also work to paint him as a liar (see the latest campaign video) and an ally of the GOP?s anti-birth control ideologues.
Right now, Mitt Romney has the highest disapproval ratings of any presidential candidate in recent history. He?s 14 points behind Obama with independent women in swing states, nearly 60 points behind among Latinos nationwide, and he?s still clawing for the confidence of conservative voters. He has committed to a right-wing budget of deep cuts to social spending, and he will have to defend huge tax cuts for the rich, at the same time that he has to answer for his massive wealth and conspicuously low tax rates.
Yes, he?ll pick up steam in the fall, and yes, he?ll improve his standing with independents and other groups. What?s more, the two-party system means that Romney will always have a chance at winning, even if he?s behind. Still, even with those handicaps, I?m not sure how you can look Romney and come away with the view that he?s ?strong.? Adequate? Yes. But nothing more than that.
Neil Newhouse, who is the lead pollster for Romney?s campaign, said the candidate?s problems with women probably represent collateral damage from the arguments that women have been hearing about contraception and other social issues, rather than any reflection on Romney?s positions. [...]So Romney's problems with women have nothing to do with the fact that he supports the policies on birth control and "other social issues" that Republicans are pushing. (For a pretty comprehensive list of all that, check out cc's diary.) The ladies are just oversensitive. We hear things about birth control and get all scared and irrational and start thinking maybe all Republicans hate us. We'll get over that by November.
Asked about the latest polling on Thursday, the former Massachusetts governor said, ?My wife has the occasion, as you know, to campaign on her own and also with me, and she reports to me regularly that the issue women care about most is the economy.?
Of course, Romney's poor showing with women might just also have something to do with the fact that he's outsourced caring about women to his wife. "Here, let me hand you off to Ann so you ladies can chat about soccer practice while me and the boys solve world problems."
If you are truly worried about the budget deficit, which is an idiotic thing to actually be worried about at a time of incredibly low government borrowing rates and high unemployment, the place to start would be looking at the basic outline of the[...]
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You may have heard that in response to a campaign by the progressive group Color of Change, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and now Kraft Foods have all withdrawn their support for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the group that pushes conservative laws at the state level, in part by having corporate lobbyists write model legislation which they then pass to friendly Republican legislators to introduce in their states. It seems that the companies were happy to give ALEC money so long as no one knew about it. But the real question is, why did they support the group in the first place?
Coca-Cola's explanation was that "Our involvement with ALEC was focused on efforts to oppose discriminatory food and beverage taxes, not on issues that have no direct bearing on our business." But when you sign on with a group like ALEC, your money is going to advance the entire conservative agenda. That means not just pro-corporate laws, but "Stand Your Ground" laws, voter suppression laws, and laws restricting women's access to abortion. And guess what: women, minorities, and people who don't want to get shot buy soda too!
I somehow doubt that the initial decisions to join were made at the highest level. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'd be surprised to hear that the Board of Directors of Coca-Cola took a vote on whether to give a few hundred thousand dollars to ALEC. It was probably some vice-president for policy who decided he was being clever by spreading the corporation's money around to groups who would make sure that the high-fructose corn syrup could continue to flow down the gullets of every true American without the impediment of a nickel of extra taxes. But if you want to play in the arena of public policy, you're going to subject to scrutiny. And it didn't take a boycott or protests outside the corporate offices. All it took was for Color of Change to point out to everyone that these corporations were supporting ALEC, and they went scurrying. There might be a lesson there.
The Mittstakes are heating upAs brooklynbadboy pointed out a couple of weeks ago, Mitt Romney's first major test after wrapping up the nomination will be selecting a running mate ... and given the GOP's weak talent pool, it's not likely to go well.
According to Politico's Maggie Haberman, the new flavor of the day is Ohio Senator Rob Portman. Apparently, being even more boring than Mitt Romney is seen as an asset. But will Mitt Romney really want to tap George W. Bush's former budget director given Bush's abysmal record on fiscal policy? Perhaps, but if so, only because there's nobody better.
Consider the other potential choices identified by Haberman:
As lame as a Portman pick would be, with a list like that, you can see why people think he's most likely.
Monthly launch activity plunged more than 70% from February’s blistering pace. The March new product count of only 14 (13 ETFs and 1 ETN) was the lowest since last August. New ETPs year-to-date total 85, but with 16 closures the net increase is just 69. The eight March closures were all from Guggenheim, with the lifetime ETP closure tally now standing at 227.
The count of current listings now stands at 1,438 consisting of 1,226 ETFs and 212 ETNs. The number of actively managed funds increased by one to 42 with the highly anticipated arrival of the PIMCO Total Return ETF, which is changing its ticker symbol from TRXT to BOND effective April 4.
Assets under management climbed 0.8% . . . → Read More: ETF Stats for March 2012: Launch Activity Dives
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