The Gold Report: You’ve compared the gold market to the weather because it’s about that predictable. What does your experience tell you about navigating a market like this?
Brien Lundin: You have to be nimble and keep your eye on the big picture. Every asset class is searching for a trend. The U.S. economy is in transition. The equity markets are in transition. Everything is in limbo searching for the next trend line. There’s just no telling whether that next direction is upward or downward.
In times like this, investors need to look beyond the day-to-day headlines. They need to keep the bigger picture in mind, focus on buying value on the dips and not getting too aggressive . . . → Read More: Gold Juniors Available at Bargain Prices: Brien Lundin
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Today is my last day at ThinkProgress, after four exciting years of reporting on the front lines of climate and energy politics. The experience has taken me from Biloxi to Copenhagen, from New Hampshire to Cancun. I’ve gotten to publish guest bloggers from John Kerry to Van Jones, from Bill McKibben to Paulina Borsook. And I’ve been privileged to share my own perspective on this special moment in history.
Here are some of the highlights of that work:
Exposing The Koch Brothers. One of my proudest achievements was in starting the national conversation on the corrupting influence of the Koch brothers on our politics. I was the first ThinkProgress writer to start investigating the Kochs in 2008, exposing McCain spokeswoman Nancy Pfotenhauer and Americans For Prosperity president Tim Phillips as Koch operatives. I covered the extremist AFP summit and AFP’s goofy climate-denial ads. When Lee Fang joined ThinkProgress in 2009, he took the lead in investigating how the Kochs manipulated Tea Party activists and DC politics as the puppetmasters of American conservatism, kindling their fame. In 2010, I even hosted a conversation about the Kochs with AFP staffer Phil Kerpen at the Center for American Progress.
Supporting Climate Hawks. The best moments of the climate fight have been interviewing climate hawks such as Ira Magaziner, Tim DeChristopher, John Fullerton, Nicholas Stern, NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Kevin Trenberth, Gavin Newsom, Bangladesh Environment Minister Hasan Mahmud, Rep. Jay Inslee, Maggie Fox, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Dr. Markus Reichstein, C40 Climate Leadership Group manager Simon Reddy, African environmental activist Mawusé Hountondji, and Tulane University student Stephanie Stefanski:
How Carbon Cash Polluted Climate Legislation. Unfortunately, the effort to achieve Barack Obama’s promised goal of strong climate change legislation was hobbled by the U.S. Senate from the start of his presidency, when enough Democrats voted with Republicans to preserve the power of the filibuster over any kind of clean-energy legislation whatsoever. Along with detailed analysis of the provisions of several iterations of climate legislation, I investigated how the carbon pollution industry manipulated Congress through campaign contributions, powerful lobbying, paid-for witnesses, and dirty tricks.
Sen. Scott Brown Begs David Koch For Money. At the public dedication of MIT?s David H. Koch Integrative Cancer Institute in 2011, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) effusively thanked conservative billionaire David Koch for supporting his election in 2010 and made a plea for help in his re-election campaign next year. David Koch directly gave the National Republican Senatorial Committee $30,400 in November 2009, and the Koch Industries PAC threw in $15,000 to NRSC plus $5,000 more directly to Brown right before Brown?s special election. In a conversation I recorded on camera, Brown thanked Koch and his wife Julia for their support, saying ?I can certainly use it again.”
The Billionaires Behind Drill-Baby-Drill. The same old men that propelled George W. Bush into office in 2000 and 2004 were behind Newt Gingrich?s multimillion-dollar front group, American Solutions for Winning the Future (ASWF), which capitalized on the energy crisis caused by the Bush presidency to promote a ?Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less? campaign. I uncovered the seven right-wing billionaires, headed by casino kingpin Sheldon Adelson, bankrolling this ?non-partisan? organization:
The Climate Zombie Caucus. With painstaking effort, I uncovered the fact that every Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2010 was a climate denier — and then found that global warming conspiracy theorists were running for the House and governorships in practically every state of the Union.
Confronting The Washington Post For Publishing George Will’s Lies About Climate Science. In 2009, Washington Post columnist George Will published an error- and lie-filled column on climate science. I researched his long history of repeating long-debunked canards, and exposed Fred Hiatt‘s and Alan Shearer‘s fact-challenged defense of Will’s pollution. After I helped expose Will’s lies and his defense by top Washington Post editors, their collusive climate denial was criticized by Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, reporters Steve Mufson, Juliet Eilperin and Mary Beth Sheridan, cartoonist Tom Toles, ombudsman Andrew Alexander, and blogger Andrew Freedman.
Investigating The Corrupt George W. Bush Administration. I helped expose the corrupt firing of EPA regional administrator Mary Gade, the pollutocrats of the Office of Management and Budget, the negligent career of creationist EPA administrator Stephen Johnson and his insouciant staff, the deliberate ignorance of climate negotiator Harlan Watson, as well as the astounding contempt for law and science from Dick Cheney and George W. Bush himself.
Poisoned Weather. The threat of global warming pollution is not merely a future challenge, but the new reality. For four years, I have documented the increasing onslaught of climate disasters, and explained how manmade pollution means that we now bear responsibility. Some of my first work on this topic garnered the attention of Rush Limbaugh, who called me a “wacko.”
And yes, it’s been four years of explaining how the right wing is lying about why gasoline prices rise and fall. Even though the climate is being transformed, some things never change.
More than 3,000 people signed a petition urging Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) to veto legislation which would require public schools to teach the “controversy” surrounding topics like evolution and global warming. Opponents of the bill delivered the petition to Haslam’s office yesterday, where a spokesman said he would make sure the Governor received it. The bill passed the House last year and was approved by the Senate last month. Critics have called the legislation a “monkey bill” in reference to the Scopes “monkey trial” held in Tennessee in 1925, when a biology teacher was convicted for teaching evolution. The bill is also opposed by several newspapers and scientific organizations. Haslam has previously said he would “probably” sign the bill.
Members of the Mormon church are leading efforts to place a marriage equality referendum on the ballot in Maryland, according to an e-mail obtained by the Washington Blade. The e-mail states that several Maryland churches are working to gather signatures, and that 200,000 need to be collected by May, even though just over 55,000 signatures are needed for the referendum to reach the ballot. Two members of the Mormon community in Maryland are listed as organizers in the e-mail, which calls for more people to gather signatures “within the LDS community,” referring to the church’s formal name, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. An LDS spokesman said that the church is not involved in the effort. The Mormon Church was one of the primary backers of California’s Proposition 8 amendment, which prohibited same-sex marriage in the state.
The Malaysian Information Department is banning television shows with gay characters, the country’s Deputy Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Maglin Dennis D?Cruz announced. ?Effective immediately, radio and TV stations are asked to stop screening shows which feature gay, effeminate men as well as characters that go against the norm of a religious society because this encourages and promotes LGBT now,” the state directive states. The new rule impacts public stations, but will expand to include private programming providers and foreign shows, which “will be dealt with by the national censorship board.” Malaysia is also training volunteers to promote an anti-gay campaign and funding efforts to “curb” the spread of LGBT groups.
Bipartisan support for the production tax credit continues to pour in from around the country. This week, the National Governor’s Association sent a letter to Congressional leaders urging them to extend key tax credits for wind and other renewables.
Citing the need to stimulate new types of economic activity and maintain job growth in the clean energy sector, the bi-partisan organization called for a four-year extension of the production tax credit (PTC):
Predictable tax policies provide a foundation for renewable energy development and can play an important role in our nation?s economic recovery. Therefore we are encouraging an extension of the both the PTC and ITC for at least 4 years. These tax credits can continue to encourage robust investment and deployment of renewable technologies by affording industry a reliable investment framework within which to operate.
Also adding to the public call for an extension of wind tax credits were the commissioners of Wheatland County, Montana. Wheatland County is a very conservative area of the country. According to one clean energy campaigner, getting these commissioners to write the public statement is “deeply encouraging” and shows “there are still elected officials with common sense.”
With the help of the additional taxes from the Judith Gap Wind Farm, Wheatland County has benefited greatly. We have a new county shop and fire hall, a great tax base as well as a grant program that benefits nonprofit organizations in our county.
The potential for more wind farms is in jeopardy if the U.S. Congress does not vote to extend federal tax incentives such as the Federal Production Tax Credit. Support is needed from Sen. Max Baucus, Sen. John Tester and Rep. Dennis Rehberg as well as the Montana public to ensure progress continues and that Montana meets its full potential.
These are two in a long series of letters written by conservative and progressive politicians in favor of clean energy tax credits.
The PTC provides project owners with a credit of 2.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced. It will expire at the end of this year. Since tax credits were introduced for the wind industry, they have stimulated tens of billions of dollars in private investment and helped drive the cost of wind down by 90%. However, with natural gas prices at historic (and unsustainable) lows, an expiration of the credit would freeze the industry overnight ? potentially killing 37,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, even though the top five oil companies brought in $137 billion in profits last year, they still receive billions in U.S. tax breaks each year ? with many of those credits permanently imbedded in the tax code.
At the end of last month, 47 Senators voted against the PTC while voting in favor for keeping $24 billion in tax cuts for oil companies.
Let’s be honest: It is a national scandal that lawmakers in Congress continue to vote against tax credits for wind ? threatening 37,000 American jobs and preventing the country from taking the slightest steps forward on addressing climate change ? while keeping in place tax credits for oil and gas.
Congress needs to listen up to the loud bipartisan chorus calling for support of wind.
Software company Intuit, the makers of programs such as Turbo Tax and Quicken, announced today that they will join Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Kraft as the fourth company to end their partnership with the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council this week.
A stampede seems to be on the way as more and more groups break ties and dump ALEC. Intuit, Inc. (maker of Quicken and QuickBooks accounting software) told the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) that Intuit also decided not to renew its membership after it expired in 2011. That comment came from Bernie McKay, Vice President of Government Affairs. He gave this response when CMD identified that Intuit was no longer listed on the board and contacted the company. CMD began its effort to spotlight Intuit and other corporate funders and tie these corporations to the ALEC agenda when it launched ALECexposed.org in July 2011. … Intuit’s McKay explained to CMD that the company doesn’t “usually issue statements about membership in any organization” and declined to comment further.
Although Pepsi quietly left ALEC as recently as last January, the growing exodus of companies’ from ALEC’s began earlier this week when the progressive group Color of Change announced a petition and boycott campaign targeting ALEC’s corporate supporters. Other corporations that have not yet publicly renounced their support of ALEC include Koch Industries, Wal-Mart, Pfizer, Reynolds American, Altria/Philip Morris, Procter & Gamble, Exxon Mobil and British alcohol firm Diageo (makers of Smirnoff and Johnnie Walker).
As a recent Center for American Progress report explains, ALEC is one of the leading proponents of so-called Voter ID legislation that potentially disenfranchises millions of low-income, minority, student and elderly voters in an effort to exclude groups that tend to vote Democratic from the franchise. ALEC is also linked to state “Stand Your Ground” laws that can potentially enable accused murders such as Trayvon Martin’s accused assailant George Zimmerman to remain free.
Today’s jobs report from the Department of Labor shows that the private sector has added jobs for the past 25 months consecutively. One particular bright spot: auto industry employment continued its winning streak.
Nearly ten percent of the 120,000 U.S. jobs added in March were a result of strong growth in the motor vehicles and parts manufacturing sector, serving as yet another wake-up call regarding whose ideas are working for the economy. Many Republicans — including the GOP?s presidential front-runner, Mitt Romney, said we should “let Detroit go bankrupt“.
Auto industry jobs suffered a steady decline in the 2000s even before the Great Recession hit. From March 2001 — the previous cycle peak — to December 2007, auto jobs fell from 1.24 million to 956,000. As the housing bubble economy deflated and the financial crisis on Wall Street threw us further into a tailspin, auto industry employment fell by another one-third.
Fortunately, the Obama administration had the vision and perseverance to come to the aid of the auto industry in early 2009. By organizing a restructuring of the industry instead of letting it go bankrupt, the Administration saved hundreds of thousands of American jobs and a vital sector of the U.S. economy.
The graph here shows the cumulative net change in motor vehicles and parts industries jobs since June 2009–the month that General Motors filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and the Obama administration’s strategy for restructuring the American auto industry really kicked into high gear.
From June 2009 to March 2012, the industry increased employment by more than 22 percent, or 139,000 new jobs created. And last week, U.S. automakers registered their strongest sales growth since early 2008, even stronger than during the successful “Cash for Clunkers” program in summer 2009.
Industry output growth recovered, too. After falling 60 percent in 2008 and 25 percent in 2009, U.S. motor vehicle output grew by 27 percent in 2010 and 12 percent in 2011, adjusting for inflation. Growth in 2011 was held back by the March 2011 Japanese earthquake, which disrupted global automotive supply chains.
Without the Obama administration’s bold efforts to restructure the American auto industry, not only would these auto industry jobs not exist, but hundreds of thousands of other jobs upstream and downstream from the auto industry would have disappeared as well.
Yesterday, Democrats began their media push on the Buffett rule, which Sheldon Whitehouse and Tammy Baldwin have turned into legislation called the Paying a Fair Share Act. The bill would set a minimum 30% effective tax rate for earners making over $1[...]
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Maine People's Resource Center (pdf). 3/31-4/2. "Registered Maine voters in likely voter households." MoE: ±3.1% (no trendlines):
Matt Dunlap (D): 12
Charlie Summers (R): 22
Angus King (I): 56
Cynthia Dill (D): 20We've gotten our first poll of the Maine Senate race since the filing deadline passed and the candidates have sorted themselves out. It's also only the second poll since Olympia Snowe's unexpected retirement announcement; PPP got into the field quickly, but that was before broadly-popular independent ex-Gov. Angus King bigfooted his way into the race. Most of their permutations tested out Democratic heavyweights like Rep. Chellie Pingree and ex-Gov. John Baldacci; their most useful finding was their one permutation involving a King three-way, which found King at 36, Pingree at 31, and Republican SoS Charlie Summers at 28. Today's poll, though, is the first to try out a three-way race with one of the second-tier Democrats who actually got in. Unsurprisingly, given his generally left-of-center positioning, King vacuums up most of those Democratic votes that went to Pingree in PPP's sample, pushing him well north of 50 percent here.
Matt Dunlap (D): 17
John Hinck (D): 6
Benjamin Pollard (D): 2
Charlie Summers (R): 28
Bruce Poliquin (R): 12
Rick Bennett (R): 7
Debra Plowman (R): 6
Scott D'Amboise (R): 4
William Schneider (R): 4
The poll is from a pollster we haven't seen before, the Maine People's Resource Center, described by the Bangor Daily News as "affiliated with the Maine People?s Alliance, a progressive statewide advocacy group," and, in their own words (from their polling memo) "a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to giving people, especially those groups that are under-represented in civic life, skills and information to participate in the decision-making processes that affect them." If that description strikes you as one of a partisan pollster, then you might take the poll with a grain of salt, but as you can see from King's mighty toplines, if they're shilling for the Democrats, they're doing a pretty poor job of it!
One other consideration is that their sample breaks 39 Democratic, 29 GOP, 31 unenrolled. Actual state registration figures (pdf), as of February, are 32 Democratic, 28 GOP, 37 unenrolled, so the sample may overweight Democrats at the expense of indies ... but again, that doesn't seem to matter one bit as far as King's dominant performance goes. In fact, King performs nearly as strongly among Democrats as among indies; he gets 61 percent of Democrats (with 24 percent of Democrats going for Dunlap) compared with 67 percent of indies (who also break 11 percent for Dunlap and 16 percent for Summers). King loses among GOPers, but even there he gets 38 percent to Summers' 52 percent.
Their general election poll only ran one permutation, apparently assuming that Matt Dunlap, the state's former secretary of state (which isn't a statewide elected position in Maine), would be the Democratic nominee. However, Dunlap's in second place in the Democratic primary, behind state Sen. Cynthia Dill, who seemed to stake out a more aggressive position early and has been one of the few people interested in publicly calling out King on the actual impracticalities of his post-partisan rhetoric. (Undecideds are so high on the Democratic side, though, that there's no point in drawing conclusions yet.) Current SoS Charlie Summers is in a somewhat more dominant position on the GOP side, but is only a slightly larger speed bump for King in the general than Dunlap is.
Chellie Pingree (D): 61
Jon Courtney (R): 28
Mike Michaud (D): 53As an added bonus, we get our first polling looks at Maine's two Congressional races, where Pingree and Michaud decided they were better off staying rather than fighting for Democratic votes with King. Courtney and Raye are no slouches?far from being of the "Some Dude" variety, they're Maine's state Senate majority leader and state Senate president respectively?but they don't seem to be getting much of any traction here, suggesting that Maine's pro-Republican shift in 2010 (they elected a GOP governor, Paul LePage, and turned control of the legislature over to Republicans) was a one-time event rather than the start of a trend. (More evidence for that: LePage's approvals are only 39/56.) Michaud's race is somewhat closer, given that ME-02 is a swingy/light-blue district while ME-01 is solidly blue, but even he looks out of danger.
Kevin Raye (R): 37
Speaking of the Congressional districts, Maine is one of the few states that allocates electoral votes based on CD, and it looks like Barack Obama can still count on all of Maine's EVs. In the poll's presidential portion, he's up 48-41 over Mitt Romney in ME-02, as well as 61-33 in ME-01 and 55-37 statewide.
Finally, while the poll doesn't specifically address how people plan to vote on the upcoming same-sex marriage referendum re-do, people's general feelings about the matter make it look likely that same-sex marriage will make its legal return to Maine. Fifty-eight percent favor allowing same-sex couples to marry in Maine, while 40 percent oppose. (H/t to ndrwmls10 for finding the poll before anyone else did.)