Announcing “Iran?s readiness to host a meeting of countries committed to immediately implementing” steps to end the violence in Syria, Salehi declares “Iran?s support for political reform in Syria that will allow the Syrian people to decide their destiny. This includes ensuring that they have the right to participate in the upcoming free and fair presidential election under international supervision.”
Leaving aside Salehi’s efforts to kill satire dead, it’s important to understand Iran’s efforts to make itself useful in Syria in context of its larger effort to use participation in various international organizations and venues to ease its growing isolation over its nuclear program.
There’s the upcoming meeting of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) in Mecca on August 14, which will bring Muslim leaders from around the world. Then there’s the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit in Tehran on August 29-30, which Iranian lawmaker Abed Fattahi optimistically insisted “will symbolize the Islamic Republic?s strength and successful diplomacy in the international arena.? Iran has been promoting the NAM Summit heavily, making a special show of inviting new Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who has not announced whether he’ll attend.
Iran has also boosted its outreach considerably in Latin America, though with limited success, and attempted to ally with international efforts to control narcotics smuggling, even as evidence mounts that it’s own Revolutionary Guards Corps is deeply involved in the international narcotics trade.
None of this is to say that Iran can’t ever play a positive role in these issues, just that it’s important to see Iran’s increased diplomatic activism as a reaction to the tightening sanctions and increased isolation resulting from their failure to adequately address concerns over its nuclear work. The key question, of course, remains whether this pressure will change Iran’s cost-benefit calculus with regard to its nuclear program. But, at the very least, Iran’s own behavior here is an important rejoinder to those who claim that the Obama administration’s diplomatic engagement strategy has been a failure.
Cable news is giving a controversial new ad attacking Romney an unintentional bump in visibility. Priorities USA, the super PAC supporting Barack Obama, released “Understands” on Tuesday in just five battleground states: Florida, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Ohio. But the spot, which controversially links the death of the wife of a laid off steelworker to Romney’s actions as CEO of Bain Capital, quickly went national when cable news shows replayed the ad 60 times in two days.
Priorities USA spent slightly more than a million dollars on ‘Understands,’ its fifth ad in a campaign focusing on Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital. It features former GST Steel worker Joe Soptic, who describes how his wife died after they lost their health insurance.
Romney’s campaign called the ad “dishonest” and “contemptible.” Mark Halperin of Time Magazine lamented, “It seems that for some Democrats, given the attacks the President has taken, nothing is out of bounds in going after Romney at this point.”
Sensing controversy, cable news outlets replayed the ad, by ThinkProgress’ estimate, 60 times in two days. Fox News and Fox Business provided the bulk of the coverage, mentioning and playing clips of the ad 26 times since Tuesday. CNN and MSNBC played it 15 and 12 times respectively.
Priorities USA senior strategist Bill Burton told the Huffington Post that “Understands” has been “wildly successful” in focusing the conversation on Romney’s impact on the middle class. And the super PAC is getting far more bang for its buck thanks to the free media coverage.
To put the Priorities USA ad buy in perspective, conservative outside groups spent $144 million on swing state TV ads as of the third week in July. Democratic groups, led by Priorities USA, have spent $20 million.
The success of “Understands” can be read as a lesson to future political campaigns: launch hyperbolic attacks on your opponent, and the media will reward you with millions of dollars in free air time.
Bishop Harry Jackson has become the face of inequality in Washington, DC and Maryland over the past few years, leading the resistance against same-sex marriage. It’s no secret that he’s been closely aligned with the National Organization for Marriage, but Mother Jones magazine noticed he was paid for his services. Now, much of NOM’s finances remain hidden behind their 501(c)(4) status, but in 2010, paid Jackson at least $20,000 through its 501(c)(3) Education Fund, funneling the funds through his High Impact Leadership Coalition. This is clear evidence of NOM’s race-wedging strategy to “find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage.” Most recently, the NOM-supported “Coalition of African-American Pastors,” which includes Jackson, has been flaunted to the media, despite being a one-issue organization with seemingly only a dozen measures. The world may never know how much those anti-gay spokespeople are being paid off to try to turn black people against gay people.
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Jon Stewart took a shot at Fox News, Republicans and their allies for not even trying to hide why they're passing these voter ID laws across the country, even though they're well aware that there is no problem with voter fraud.
As Stewart pointed out, they could care less about problems with absentee voting, which is one area where there are actually problems and John Fund just admitted why they're pushing these laws but don't care about problems with absentee voting: John Fund: Sure, Republicans Focus On Voter ID For Political Reasons:
John Fund, the former Wall Street Journal columnist who has been promoting voter ID laws for years, admitted Tuesday that some Republicans focus on voter ID laws which restrict in-person voting over laws which could limit absentee voting because the GOP has a perceived electoral advantage when it comes to voting by mail.
?Absentee vote ballot fraud is the tool of choice amongst fraudsters,? Fund told a group of bloggers munching on Chick-Fil-A at the conservative Heritage Foundation on Tuesday. ?Everytime you see a truly massive, coordinated effort at voter fraud, it usually relies in part on absentee voter fraud.?
Fund said that many voter ID laws ?take some provisions to curb absentee ballot fraud,? with a few exceptions. But he confessed that Democrats had a point when they say that Republicans focus on voter ID because of a potential electoral advantage.
?I think it is a fair argument of some liberals that there are some people who emphasize the voter ID part more than the absentee ballot part because supposedly Republicans like absentee ballots more and they don?t want to restrict that,? Fund said. ?But the bottom line is, on good government grounds, we have to have both voter ID laws and absentee ballot laws.?
And as we posted here, Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Turzai openly admitted their new law will help Mitt Romney win their state in the upcoming presidential election: Shameless Republican Brags About Voter ID 'Winning the State of PA'. Stewart wondered if Turzai realized anyone had the camera running during that event, because Turzai was "going to look like an a**hole." I don't think they care too much as long as it means they win elections by hook or crook and stay in power.
Stewart then turned to his "Senior Voting Correspondent" Jessica Williams for further discussion on how these new regulations are going after minorities, the poor, students and the elderly and some potential new tests for eligibility to vote, like whether you understand Jeff Foxworthy jokes or not.
Not Reagan.The Romney campaign and Republicans have had to acknowledge the cold reality?they are losing. But they have to rally the troops and keep them engaged and motivated, so they have to spin it somehow. And nothing motivates the wingnuts more than zombie Reagan.
Romney aides believe strongly that this race will play out like the 1980 campaign, in which President Jimmy Carter led Ronald Reagan for much of the race until Reagan broke through just before the election.There are lots of reasons the analogy won't work, though perhaps Mitt Romney will ship off some Bain laid-off workers to Iran to try and relive that bit of history.
The reason it doesn't work is because it's not true. Pres. Carter did not lead Reagan for much of the race until a final break through just before the election. Here's polling composite trendlines from that race, compiled by GWU political scientist John Sides:
Obviously, Romney hasn't enjoyed any leads, nor is Obama stuck in the 30s. Instead, we have this:
Of course, this isn't the first time that a foundering GOP campaign has looked to Reagan's bid for inspiration. The last one to do so? The McCain campaign.
We all know how that turned out.
Last week, when Ed DeMarco rejected principal reductions on Fannie and Freddie loans, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner pronounced himself disappointed. Housing advocates called for DeMarco to be fired; I explained why that won’t happen. And[...]
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In a wide-ranging speech Thursday to an appreciative audience in the southern Colorado city of Pueblo, President Barack Obama blasted presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney for being a "pioneer of outsourcing," supporting tax policies that would transfer trillions of dollars to the very rich at the expense of Americans making less than $250,000 a year and supporting deregulatory policies that would allow corporations to "run roughshod" over the American people. Obama said Americans have heard Romney's "fairy dust" story of trickle-down economics before.
While discussing the need for policies that create new jobs in the United States and not China, Obama focused on some specific jobs dear to the heart of his audience, those in the renewable energy sector.
And at a moment when homegrown energy is creating new jobs in states like Colorado and Iowa, my opponent wants to end tax credits for wind-energy producers. Think about what that would mean for a community like Pueblo. The wind industry supports about 5,000 jobs across this state. Without those tax credits, 37,000 American jobs, including potentially hundreds of jobs right here in Pueblo, would be at risk. Colorado, it is time to stop spending billions in taxpayer subsidies on an oil industry that's already making a lot of profit rarely been more profitable, and keep investing in a clean energy industry that's never been more promising. That's the choice this election. That's why I'm running for president.One of the companies providing those jobs is Vestas. The Danish wind company employs about 1,700 people in four Colorado cities. It became the largest wind energy company in the world in part because the Reagan administration said pffffft to the government support for renewable energy development that had begun under President Jimmy Carter:
Vestas has been a magnet for other companies?Vestas suppliers like Hexcel and Bach Composite," said [Eric Berglund, interim president of Upstate Colorado Economic Development]. "Vestas is using the Great Western Railway to ship. There would be a lot of impacts."Romney has been taking heat from some members of his own party for his adamant opposition to the production tax credit. It provides a boost to wind, solar and geothermal development by providing a 2.2-center subsidy for every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced in the first 10 years of a company's operation. Although Romney continues to support billions of dollars of subsidies for oil companies, he says he wants to level the playing field and let the production tax credit expire at the end of 2012.
Hexcel and Bach both built factories in Weld County to supply Vestas, and they employ more than 200 workers.
"Employment in the clean-tech sector has grown by 7 percent a year for the last six years," said Tom Clark, chief executive at the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp.
If it does expire, Vestas says 1,600 of its 1,700 Colorado workers might have to be laid off.
Team Romney responded to Obama's comments on the tax credit with a bogus claim about wind power:
?Unfortunately, under President Obama?s approach of massive subsidies and handouts, the industry has lost 10,000 jobs while growth in wind power has slowed every single year of his term,? campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said in a statement. ?Now he wants to ?double down? for another year on this failed approach at a cost of $12 billion.?In fact, wind energy companies are in lay-off mode, specifically because of fears from investors that the production tax credit will not be renewed. Many projects have stalled and this has had an effect up and down wind energy's supply chain.
But it's not true that growth in wind power has slowed every year of Obama's term. According to the American Wind Energy Association, some 10,312 megawatts of wind energy that were already in the pipeline are currently under construction in 30 states and Puerto Rico. That's a record amount under construction.
The previous record was set in 2009, when 10,000 megawatts were installed. The nation's total capacity of wind power just passed 50,000 megawatts?50 gigawatts?the equivalent of 11 typical nuclear power plants, 44 typical coal-fired power plants and enough to supply electricity to 13 million homes. In the past five years, 35 percent of newly constructed electricity-generating plants in the United States were wind-powered.
OSCAR PISTORIUS advanced due to a “stunning” reversal by track’s international ruling body.
Oscar Pistorius’ Olympic run came close to ending on a sour note. The South African who is the first amputee to compete in track and field at the Olympics didn’t get a second chance to run. Though he was entered in the 4×400 relay, his teammate was injured before the baton was ever passed. However, track’s international ruling body said the South African team was obstructed, and allowed it to move on to the final. [Yahoo!]
Sounds like Romney owes us an apology.I will say this: The Republicans are doing a great job of giving Reid free press on his claim that an inside-Bain source told him that Mitt Romney didn't pay taxes for ten years. And while Romney denies it, he refuses to release his taxes - which every other presidential candidate has done - so not only does no one know the truth, we're left...
Yesterday, Reagan-appointed Judge Alan C. Kay, a federal judge in Hawai’i, handed down a lengthy opinion holding that the Constitution does not provide gay Hawai’i couples with the same marriage rights as straight couples.
Kay’s opinion is 117 pages long, and its length is not surprising. Kay walks meticulously through the Supreme Court’s and other relevant gay rights precedents, identifies ambiguities — often in places where recent opinions have not found any ambiguity at all — and resolving every single uncertainty he finds in existing law in the light least favorable to gay couples. Kay cites a one sentence Supreme Court decision dismissing a gay rights case because the Court did not want to hear it as definitive proof that the justices reject equality. He reads the Ninth Circuit’s Prop 8 decision establishing that a state cannot withdraw equal marriage rights that it previously granted as narrowly as possible to diminish the significance of a 1993 Hawai’i Supreme Court decision holding that marriage discrimination is subject to the most skeptical constitutional review. And he cites favorably to an anti-gay dissenting opinion by Justice Scalia.
The most important decision Kay makes, however, is that laws which discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation are only subject to “regular rational basis review,” an exceedingly low standard of constitutional scrutiny which virtually ensures that the law under consideration will be upheld. The Supreme Court’s landmark gay rights decisions in Romer v. Evans and Lawrence v. Texas suggest that a more skeptical inquiry is required — a suggestion that convinced a Republican-dominated panel of the First Circuit to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. Neither Lawrence nor Romer, however, explicitly state that judges should treat anti-gay laws with increased skepticism, so Kay once again resolves this ambiguity against equality.
The upshot of this decision is that Kay can then uphold marriage discrimination based on flimsy arguments and studies from anti-gay organizations:
[I]t is not beyond rational speculation to conclude that fundamentally altering the definition of marriage to include same-sex unions might result in undermining the societal understanding of the link between marriage, procreation, and family structure. See HFF?s Mot. Ex. 33, Witherspoon Institute, Marriage and the Public Good: Ten Principles, 18-19 (2008) (concluding that changing the meaning of marriage ?would further undercut the idea that procreation is intrinsically connected to marriage. It would further undermine the idea that children need both a mother and father, further weakening the societal norm that men should take responsibility for the children they beget.?); HFF?s Mot. Ex. 34, Andrew J. Cherlin, The Deinstitutionalization of American Marriage, 66 Journal of Marriage & Family 848, 848-50 (November 2004) (explaining that the movement to legalize same-sex marriage is the most recent development in the deinstitutionalization of marriage, i.e., the ?weakening of the social norms that define people?s behavior? in the social institution of marriage).
Under rational basis review, the state is not required to show that allowing same-sex couples to marry will discourage, through changing societal norms, opposite-sex couples from marrying. Rather, the standard is whether the legislature could rationally speculate that it might.
So this is not a good opinion for equality, but it is also not clear that it will matter much in the long run. Kay’s decision will appeal to the Ninth Circuit, which has recently shown far more acceptance for gay rights than Kay. When higher courts weigh in on this case — and the plaintiffs are guaranteed at least one appeal to the Ninth Circuit as a matter of right — Kay’s opinion is likely to be forgotten. Moreover, it is worth noting that Kay is careful to distinguish his opinion from previous precedents striking down Prop 8 and DOMA. Thus, even if Kay’s reasoning stands the test of time, these particularly egregious anti-gay laws could still be on the way out.
Nevertheless, Kay’s opinion reads much like an opinion by conservative Justice Samuel Alito would read if he takes the opportunity to weigh in on marriage equality. It hunts for every single leverage point anti-gay groups can work to preserve discrimination, and struggles to pry each one open.