A handful of outside groups, fueled by oil and coal dollars, are committing tens of millions to propel Big Oil to the forefront of the 2012 elections — outspending the Obama campaign on political energy ads by as much as 10-to-1.
In the first three-and-a-half months of 2012, groups including Americans for Prosperity, American Petroleum Institute, Crossroads GPS, and American Energy Alliance have spent $16,750,000 on energy attack ads. The total amounts to more than $56 million, including the American Clean Coal Coalition’s pledge of $40 million on ads promoting coal.
According to a Think Progress analysis, there have been at least $16,750,000 worth in dirty energy ad buys since January:
American Petroleum Institute spent $4.3 million since January, reported by the Washington Post.
Crossroads GPS has spent a total $2.85 million since January, with three major ad buys. Crossroads spent $500,000 distorting the administration?s Solyndra record, $650,000 on gas prices, and $1.7 million promoting “drill, baby drill.”
Americans For Prosperity: $6 million on an ad distorting Obama’s Solyndra record, which ran in at least six states. This followed an earlier $2.4 million Solyndra ad in November, which was not included in the total count.
Other groups have pledged to spend millions more this election cycle, and will include ads focusing on promoting pro-oil and coal interests:
U.S. Chamber of Commerce has committed to spend more than $50 million this year on a range of issues. So far it has targeted several lawmakers, including Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who faced $2.5 million of ads against him for wanting to end oil subsidies. In February, it spent $200,000 ads promoting Rep. Rick Berg (R-ND) for his pro-oil stance.
American Coalition For Clean Coal: $40 million overall campaign to push coal interests to the forefront of the presidential campaign.
Oil billionaires Charles and David Koch “plan to pump at least $100 million through their network of independent groups” which include Americans for Prosperity and the American Energy Alliance.
Ad spending this cycle has skyrocketed 1600 percent compared to the 2008 race, partly due to oil and gas’s serious money to elect a candidate committed to putting oil’s profits first.
– GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney hopes to challenge President Obama on foreign policy but a new Washington Post/ABC poll suggests that might be an uphill battle as Americans trust Obama over Romney on international affairs by 53 to 36 percent.
– Shelling by Syrian government forces has come to an end as a U.N.-Arab League brokered ceasefire goes into effect, say Syrian activists, but the exiled Syrian National Council reports that raids and arrests of the government’s opponents in some suburbs of Damascus are ongoing.
– Testing a U.N.-backed agreement, Syria’s main opposition group called for the “Syrian people to protest strongly” on Friday, but urged caution in expectation that the fragile ceasefire enacted just today will not hold, and government forces will attack demonstrations.
– Iran will offer unspecified “new initiatives” at the upcoming nuclear talks between the P5+1 and Tehran, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saed Jalili, said on Wednesday.
– A massive oil price spike caused by a military confrontation with Iran is now seen as the biggest threat to the U.S. economy according to nine out of 18 economists surveyed by CNNMoney.
– Iran offered favorable credit terms to potential buyers of its oil — a sign that the reduction in exports due to Western sanctions is biting — though few have yet taken up the Islamic Republic on the deal.
— Israeli officials quietly met this week with the Finnish diplomat charged with organizing a conference on making the Middle East a nuclear-free zone, though its not clear if Israel will attend.
– Improved battlefield diagnosis has led to a record number of concussions detected among U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq last year. It was the highest pace for traumatic brain injuries of any period in 10 years of combat, according to data provided to USA Today.
The new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds, for the first time, that a majority of Republicans think that the war in Afghanistan was not worth fighting. Fifty five percent of GOP respondents said that the cost of the war has not been worth the return.
The military reported a record number of brain injuries from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq last year, but most of this is due to improved battlefield diagnosis. The new numbers suggest “countless brain injuries [were] missed when there were far more casualties during 2005 through 2007.”
Forget appealing to independents, Mitt Romney has major gaps in his base, a new Gallup poll finds. The presumed GOP presidential nominee is struggling among Midwesterners, young voters, the highly religious, and conservative Republicans.
A fundraising email from Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) paints a bleak picture of his presidential campaign. “I won’t mince words,” Paul wrote. “If we don’t reach our $2.5 million goal, I am not sure our campaign can go on.”
Jury selection begins today in the trial for former presidential candidate John Edwards, who is accused of six-counts of conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws and accepting illegal contributions.
Fighting in the 13-month uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad was quiet Thursday, activisits said, which suggests that a U.N.-negotiated truce has taken hold and the regime will stop its assault on the opposition. But in a sign of a continuing clampdown, troops and tanks were still seen patrolling areas in violation of the plan.
Vice President Biden will coin a new term — “The Romney Rule” — at a speech in New Hampshire today. ?The Romney Rule says the very wealthy should keep the tax cuts and loopholes they have, and get an additional, new tax cut every year that is worth more than what the average middle class family makes in an entire year,” Biden will say.
Three lawsuits will be filed in federal courts today against New Corporation on behalf of three people who were the alleged targets of phone hacking. News Corporation has been dealing with the phone hacking scandal in England for months, but these three targets — Princess Diana, a member of a British soccer team, and a person associated with a celebrity — are the first to claim hacking took place on US soil.
And finally: What’s the worst thing a politician from New Jersey could do? Maybe fall asleep at a Bruce Springsteen concert? Well, that’s exactly what Gov. Chris Christie (R) did during a Boss concert in Madison Square Garden Monday night.
Politico examines Mitt Romney’s campaign donors and discovers that some strongly disagree with the candidate’s opposition to same sex marriage:
Paul Singer, Dan Loeb and Cliff Asness ? three hedge fund managers and major players in donor circles ? each cut six-figure checks toward the landmark effort to legalize gay marriage in New York. Singer, the intensely-private head of Elliott Associates, has been especially active in donating to groups aimed at legalizing gay marriage in different states over the last five years, concurrent with his rise as one of the Republican party?s mot prominent bundlers and donors to party committees. According to a recent New York Times story, Singer has donated $8 million to pro-gay marriage efforts since 2007.
He?s also helped raise more than $1 million for Romney?s campaign, as well as donated another $1 million to the super PAC supporting the all-but-assured Republican nominee.
The New York moneymen and some other Republican movers-and-shakers ? such as former George W. Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman, who came out two years ago and is now raising money from a broad swath of donors to push for gay marriage but who hasn?t made a presidential campaign endorsement ? are at odds with Romney, who signed a pledge proffered by the conservative National Organization for Marriage promising to, among other things, support ?sending a federal marriage amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the states for ratification.?
NOM of course endorsed Romney yesterday and told Politico that Romney enthusiastically signed the pledge “very early” to fight marriage equality in its early stages. “He?s been very clear in the debates of his position on tradition marriage. It?s a strong pledge, a strong statement and it?s time for people who believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman to unite. Just because some donors may have a different view, doesn?t mean that?s going to have any effect at all.?
That seems to be the case for now, even as some observers predict that Romney may moderate his position as he transitions into the general election. After all, this is the same candidate who in 1994 met with the Log Cabin Republicans and pledged, ?I?m with you on this stuff? I?ll be better than Ted Kennedy? and in 2002 told a meeting of gay equality proponents that he would ?support everything that it calls for in terms of recognizing unions between people. But just don?t use the M-word.? He should have no trouble walking back to his old position.
A majority of Republicans and 66 percent of Americans now say the war in Afghanistan hasn’t been worth fighting according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. The poll results showing a dramatic drop in the U.S. public’s support for the over a decade long war in Afghanistan may pose a challenge to Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney, who has frequently criticized President Obama’s war strategy and said the goal in Afhganistan should be to defeat the Taliban on the battlefield. The poll showed that U.S. support for the war is at an all-time low with only 30 percent of respondents saying it has been worth fighting.
Foster Friess, the billionaire conservative donor who almost single-handedly funded the Super PAC backing Rick Santorum and has now vowed to support Mitt Romney, made a joke about an assassination attempt on President Obama. In an interview on Fox Business, Friess said, ?There are a lot of things that haven?t been hammered at because Rick and Mitt have been going at each other. Now that they have trained their barrels on President Obama, I hope his teleprompters are bullet-proof.? In a follow-up interview with ABC, he said he regretted the remark.
Pied Piper Porky [...]
Read The Full Article:
The Department of Labor is reporting that initial claims for unemployment insurance rose to 380,000 last week, an increase of 13,000 over the previous week's revised figure. The four-week moving average, a measure preferred by many analysts because it smooths out volatility, was 368,500, an increase of 4,250 from the previous week's revised average of 364,250.
The general rule is that a level of unemployment claims below 375,000 is associated with dropping unemployment levels; that being the case, last week's figure of 380,000 is not good news, especially coming on the heels of last week's weak jobs report. However, there's a reason we look at the four-week moving average?weekly numbers do have a lot of volatility, so the question is whether this week's number signals the beginning of a trend. Though this is the highest level of unemployment claims we've seen since January, not all that many months ago it would have looked like good news.
As you may have read in last Sunday's New York Times, the government of Israel has declared German Nobel laureate Gunter Grass persona non grata because of a poem. True, it's a pretty lousy poem: "What Must Be Said," it's called, and that "Must" tells old Grass hands that it's musty Gunter Gasbag time. But literary criticism has never been a big priority for Benjamin Netanyahu, who followed up his Interior Ministry's PNG announcement with his own condemnation of Grass: "Shameful."
The big deal, you see, was that the 84-year-old author of The Tin Drum had denounced Israel for the first time in his l-o-o-n-g career as postwar Germany's obstreperously eloquent Jiminy Cricket. That's how folks used to talk about him, anyhow: "Much of what is active conscience in the Germany of Krupp and the Munich beer halls lies in this man's ribald keeping," critic George Steiner?not a man to shrug Hitler off?lauded Grass's Dog Years back in the 1960s. I must say I miss the days when paperback publishers (was it Fawcett Crest?) thought of that as a sales-worthy blurb.
In 2012, Grass is, shall we say, not unaware of the occasion's momentousness. "Why have I kept silent, held back so long," goes "What Must Be Said"?s turgid, attention-catching opening line. With all allowances for what may be lost in translation, the rhetorical switch from the title's impersonal "Must" to that ostentatiously anguished "I" is the definition of a downright Victor Hugo-esque vanity. And the calculated way he dithers ("Why do I hesitate to name that other land") before finally saying "Israel" midway through is an effect well known to both makers and consumers of porn flicks.
The author's nationality (and fame) aside, the substance of Grass's criticism of Israel would be unremarkable on most Op-Ed pages outside the United States?Tel Aviv conceivably not excluded, at least if Tel Aviv still lives up to its admirably contentious rep. To wit, when you measure Iran's mere potential to acquire nuclear weapons against Israel's well known if unadmitted, never internationally inspected nuclear stockpile, then which nation's current saber rattling is the bigger threat to peace? At the very least, that seems like a legit subject for not quite academic debate.
Unless you're Glenn Beck, in which case Christian pity renders me mute, the West's double standard regarding who gets to have nukes and who doesn't in that part of the world isn't exactly fresh news. The usual arguments in favor of it?but Israel is a democracy, but Israel isn't an aggressor, but Israel isn't run by madmen?aren't exactly likely to cut much mustard with most Arabs. Even so, after the poem's publication, Grass expressed regret that he hadn't made it clearer he was chastising Netanyahu's regime in particular and not Israel writ large.
Not doing so was a rare misstep for an expert at covering his rhetorical flanks. "What Must Be Said" makes sure we know Grass doesn't like or trust Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad: "a loudmouth," he says, and pot-and-kettle jokes would be obscene in this context. His provocation to speak out at long last, we learn, was his native land's latest sale of a submarine (?on a purely commercial basis, if also/With nimble lips calling it a reparation") to Netanyahu's government. Already "tarnished by a stain that can never be removed"?oh, yawn, Gunter, you were writing that crap in your sleep by 1969?poor Germany can't afford the complicity.
Talk about a convoluted way of pulling rank. Yet given Germany's track record in his lifetime?by now, the qualifier is Grass's Ancient Mariner ace in the hole?that's not a dishonorable pose even if "pose" is the right word. What makes "What Must Be Said" noxious to all sorts of people, me included, is its self-proclaimed identity (no one past sophomore year in high school would agree) as a poem. Grass might have made the same points with more factual backup and less rodomontade in an essay or speech?neither is a mode unknown to him?and not raised as many hackles. But playing the poetry card is his way of reminding the public that he's got oracular stature as a Great Writer. Goethe, call your office.
And still: persona non grata, really? As a child of diplomats, I know that's the, so to speak, nuclear option. It's usually reserved for people who a) are acting on behalf of their governments or some nefarious foreign combine, not expressing individual opinions of no Realpolitik consequence, and who b) are actually in the country in question at the time. Grass neither was nor had plans to travel there, so far as I know. If he and his Nobel Prize have reason to feel flattered, Israelis may regret they couldn't send the old man to the airport with a "Return to Sender" sticker. Once upon a time, though, a simple huff from some Israeli government factotum would have been enough to satisfy honor all around, as opposed to both Bibi and his Interior Minister getting in on the act personally.
But that's how it goes at a time when PJ Media contributor Benjamin Kerstein can declare that "any and all criticism of Israel not only can but must be anti-Semitic." Emphasis mine in the former case and his in the latter, though Kerstein's full argument does have enough nuance to note that people who find it necessary to criticize Israel anyway should go right ahead?just with a vivid awareness that they're giving aid and comfort to "those who seek to slaughter the Jews." Some window, baby. Heartfelt or not, arguments like his once dissuaded left-wing intellectuals from daring to criticize the Soviet Union, not a country I care to compare Israel to under any circumstances whatsoever. And to my shame, I remember making those same arguments when refusing to criticize Nicaragua under the Sandinistas.
Because I own almost everything Grass ever published in English until I got lax about it, I couldn't help reaching up on tippy-toe to pull his late-1960s collection of polemics, Speak Out!, off the shelf. As I'd recalled, it included "Ben and Dieter: A Speech to the Israelis," delivered in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in early 1967. You know, before the Six-Day War made everything so blazingly bright and then dismayingly murky.
And as I'd suspected, "Ben and Dieter" turned out to be mawkish meliorism disguised as sardonic truth: a tale of a Jewish ex-inmate of the Theresenienstadt concentration camp and a teenage veteran of Rundstedt's Battle of the Bulge banding together against the earnest U.S. Army officer out to re-educate them. ("No matter how each had survived the system, it was the same system that had molded them both." Wow, really? Only one of them risked being molded into soap.) Even though Grass the good liberal sides with their hapless teacher, in hindsight what's striking is his equation of Nazism and the Holocaust with adolescence on a drastic scale?also the theme of Dog Years.
As we've since learned, he had his reasons. After decades of pretending he'd just been a teenage Wehrmacht draftee toward the end of World War II, Grass confessed in 2006 that he'd served for a few months (sans participation in any known war crimes) in the Waffen SS. That disgusting blight on his history, honesty, and postwar self-righteousness about the Third Reich is something the Israeli government, not unreasonably, spared no pains to remind people of while denouncing "What Must Be Said." But for me, the whole fracas dredged up uncomfortable memories of his not-so-hot 2002 novel, Crabwalk.
At one level an elderly Grass's attempt at reconciliation with his own generation?whose members had mostly despised him since The Tin Drum for waking the ghosts?Crabwalk nonetheless bought into the then newly popular (well, in Germany) notion that, what with the incineration of Dresden and so forth, ordinary Germans had been almost as much victims of World War II as the Jews they gassed. And sorry, Dresdeners, but try peddling that moral equivalence to the Marines. Or to the U.S. Army's 45th Infantry Division, which liberated Dachau after splashing north from Anzio.
Grass himself is no anti-Semite, however. That's why the significance of "What Must Be Said" is different what either Netanyahu or Israel's American supporters probably think it is. The poem's stinko, but its real lesson is that?even for a conscience-plagued German (and he is, however fatuously and/or opportunistically in his old age) of Grass's generation?the Holocaust no longer provides Israel with automatic moral immunity. Unlike the secretly relieved, "Well, now?that was an easy twofer" West, the Arab world has never bought Auschwitz as a justification for Israel's existence, and no surprise there. They weren't involved in the Final Solution.
What Israel has to face is that, not too long from now, no one alive will have been. At which point, inevitably, the gas chambers and the six million dead will be just more history, not vivid enough to anyone to be decisive. And when Gunter Grass?born 1927, wounded on the Eastern Front just days before war's end, and painfully self-re-educated about Nazism afterward?isn't deterred from criticizing Netanyahu's Israel by his now rare firsthand memories of Hitler's reign, then we're getting a scary preview of what that world will be like unless decent people on both sides say "Stop." When I look at my old, much-thumbed copy of The Tin Drum, what frightens me almost as much as the barbarism it records is an incongruous sense that life was so much simpler when it was first published.
t was not so long ago that we were anticipating being dazzled when chronically incorrect Bill Kristol helped put together financing for The Washington Free Beacon in an effort to find his dumb son-in-law Matt Continetti some steady work and out of the[...]
Read The Full Article: