As BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski reminds us, earlier in the campaign Mitt Romney said, "I worked at one company, Bain, for 25 years, and I left that to go off and save the Olympic games." And as you can see from the video at the top of this post, Romney's campaign staff loved the line so much they included it in a television ad.
But as Kaczynski points out, Romney started working at Bain in 1977. Twenty-five years later would be ... 2002. And even though 2002 is actually the year Mitt Romney gave up ownership of Bain Capital and relinquished his title and role of CEO and chairman, the Currently Approved Mitt Romney Narrative is that he left the firm on February 11, 1999 and never had anything to do with the company again.
Of course, it's pretty hard for that to be true given that Mitt still owned the place ... and that they were telling the SEC as late as 2002 that he still ran it. So did Mitt Romney accidentally tell the truth when he said he'd worked at Bain for 25 years? It sure seems like it. But you do the math.
Picture of the day....[...]
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The Federal government has taken its assault on Harborside Health Center, one of America's largest and best known medical marijuana dispensaries, to a new level.[...]
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Something happened today that, chances are, you know little about yet care about very deeply. It helps pay for the lovely farmers market you frequent every weekend. It?s behind all those corn syrupy soft drinks you?ve been taught to avoid. It?s the reason you started hiking to that one artisanal shop for grass-fed beef after you read Omnivore?s Dilemma. It helps feed America?s hungry, because it authorizes the federal food-stamp program, which feeds 46 million people. It?s the farm bill, usually the concern only of the corn, wheat, cotton, peanut and soy-bean lobby, but it really should be called the food bill, and it has to be reauthorized every five years. The House Agriculture Committee debated and passed the reauthorization of the law this morning?and it includes $12 billion in cuts to food stamps and an amendment that will kill a program designed to help small chicken farmers. Now, the bill will likely die.
Most observers don?t expect House Majority Leader John Boehner to take the bill up in the tightly packed legislative days before the August recess. It seems even less likely that the House will have a proper debate on the floor before the fiscal year ends September 30, when the current farm bill expires.
The reluctance to take the bill the House floor is partly about timing?it?s a big bill to debate in such a short amount of time?but is mostly about politics. Deficit hawks want to cut government spending, but not when it comes to their base. Money from the farm bill buys many Republican congressmen, especially from the South, a lot of votes. A farm bill debate on the House floor could split the right. But the bill also angers the left?there?s almost no scenario in which a bill passes without substantial cuts to the food-stamp program, which is the biggest spending item in the farm bill. Patty Lovera, of the advocacy group Food and Water Watch, thinks the most likely way the current farm bill will become law is if it passes attached as a rider to some must-pass bill, like an extension of the Bush tax cuts or a bill that prevents automated cuts to the defense budget from going into effect. If that happens, there?s almost no way to stop some of the biggest cuts House Republicans want from going into effect. ?There is so much potential for shenanigans,? Lovera says.
During the Great Depression, Congress passed the farm bill as we know it now to tinker with agriculture markets, especially for grains like corn and wheat. Market forces, left to their own devices, cause problems like encouraging each farmer to overproduce. The government paid farmers not to use chunks of their land so that the markets wouldn?t be glutted with their products, causing prices to fall. Falling prices would encourage farmers to try to sell even more to make up lost revenues, pushing prices still lower?you get the idea. The payments served to set a price floor, so farmers wouldn?t enter the market unless prices rose above it.
In the 1980s, Congress changed the way payments were made?instead of paying farmers to stay out of the market when prices were low, farmers could sell their products at low prices and the government would make up the difference. Overall, this served to make the price of grains like corn especially cheap; farmers can now sell their grains and other products for way less than it cost to produce them because the government will make up the difference in the form of direct cash payments. It exacerbates the problem?falling prices?that subsidies were originally meant to prevent. Many writers and advocates have called for a substantial change in food policy to prevent the overabundance of corn and combat a system that rewards giant agri-businesses. They hoped this bill?which will be the only farm bill during Obama?s tenure, even if he is re-elected?would provide it. It hasn?t.
Currently, there are two different version of the farm bill (the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition details the major differences between them on their blog). The Senate passed its version last month. Introduced by Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, chair of the Senate agriculture committee, it cuts $23 billion overall, mostly by trimming direct payments to farmers. It sets an upper-income limit on farmers who qualify for direct payments, which many outside groups, like The Environmental Working Group (EWG), have advocated for. The EWG?s work has shown that most federal subsidies intended to help farmers go to very rich individuals or agri-businesses, and it?s their involvement that prevents systemic reform. The Senate bill starts to shift all farmers over to private crop insurance, so they will only get paid when their crops fail, and gives them money to help with their premiums. But the income caps created on the direct payment system won?t extend to the crop-insurance program, so the bill isn?t as forward-thinking as it might look. ?We call the Senate bill bait-and-switch,? says Ferd Hoefner of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
The Senate?s bill also cuts $4 billion from food stamps, and some money from conservation programs. It continues a program Stabenow championed in the last farm bill, in 2008, to give more support to producers of specialty crops like fruits and vegetables, and other programs designed to help new and minority farmers.
The House version now in committee gives farmers the option to move to crop-insurance assistance from direct payments, but makes the former unpalatable and does nothing to reform the latter. It also cuts more deeply from conservation programs that actually encourage farmers to conserve land, and sends more money to the EQIP program, which calls itself a conservation program but primarily funds the giant manure lagoons you see throughout the Midwest and West outside giant animal farms that pump livestock up with grain and drugs right before slaughter. The committee also passed an amendment to cut a provision from the 2008 farm bill that would have given more rights to small livestock farmers.
Most controversially, the House wants to take a $12 billion chunk out of food stamps, a program that costs about $80 billion a year. House Republicans are going to say the cuts come from eliminating waste and fraud, but it actually just makes it harder for qualifying families to get enrolled in the program automatically when they sign up for other programs, like Medicaid. A floor debate would likely restore a lot of funding?at least, many House members would try?to programs like food stamps. Groups that champion food for the poor aren?t amped about either bill, but the Senate?s cuts are far less deep.
Still, it?s important that something pass. Not passing any farm bill means the USDA might have to revert to some really old law?an 1849 law, in fact?in the way it administers its programs. A lot of programs, like the federal dollars that support your farmers markets, would disappear. Two things are more likely to happen: either the House will attach the farm bill to something that absolutely has to pass, or the House and the Senate will try to push through a temporary reauthorization of the 2008 farm bill into next year. The problem with both ideas is that this Congress doesn?t seem to be in much of a hurry to do anything, especially with the election looming. ?So many of our programs that currently get farm bill support,? Hoefner says, ?Would be left hanging high and dry.?
The Energy Report: Chen, you have had some real successes. Are you going to remain a family office, or will you branch out into hedge-fund management?
Chen Lin: I don’t have any plans to . . . → Read More: Build Profits with Deep-Value Energy Stocks: Chen Lin
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Wow, we're all safe now. Aren't we lucky that the Feds are cracking down on this rather than prosecuting Wall Street for creating the Great Recession that now may be a depression?Federal prosecutors have filed civil forfeiture actions against an Oakland medical marijuana dispensary that bills itself as the world's largest, as part of a crackdown by U.S. authorities on California's massive...
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit on Monday against the Harborside Health Center, a medical marijuana dispensary with four locations in California, threatening the closure of its Oakland and San Jose facilities. The DOJ has continued to crack down on state-based medical marijuana facilities — particularly in California — despite the fact that support for medical marijuana is at an all-time high.
Harborside Health Center, which is seeking to expand its current four locations to eight, markets its Oakland dispensary as the largest in the world. Harborside has more than 100,000 customers, employs more than 100 staff members, and earns $20 million in annual marijuana sales — and paid the state more than $3 million in taxes last year. Harborside’s co-founder told the Los Angeles Times that the DOJ’s crackdown is “incredibly destructive” to the community of Californians who will be forced to turn to the streets to seek marijuana, which is legal for medical purposes under California state law.
Although federal law prohibits medical marijuana, it is currently legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia, with seven additional states poised to legalize medical marijuana by the end of this year. Kris Hermes, the spokesperson for the advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, points out that the DOJ is undermining the marijuana laws in these states by continuing to target facilities like Harborside’s:
HERMES: This is the most obvious and significant step by the federal government in attacking completely law-abiding dispensaries. It becomes more untenable for them to say they are just going after certain facilities and not just undermining the state’s marijuana laws.
Democratic Leader Nacy Pelosi (D-CA), who has criticized the federal crackdown against state-based medical marijuana shops, indicated yesterday that House Democrats may take up federal medical marijuana legislation after the upcoming election. Pelosi said that it is “really important” to make changes to the current federal law against medical marijuana to “prevent the federal government from acting to harm the safe access to medicinal marijuana provided under state law.”
Harborside Health Center plans to fight the DOJ to stay open. In a press release on its website, it maintains that its Oakland property is a “model” medical marijuana facility in compliance with California law and promises to contest the DOJ’s actions in court.
Once again, the clean energy industry is collateral damage in an election year war of words.
After being repeatedly called out by fact-checkers for straight-up lying in political ads attacking clean energy jobs, the GOP is doubling down on claims about the stimulus package that the Washington Post has called “ridiculous.”
The Republican National Committee just rolled out a new website that rehashes many of the party’s widely-debunked assertions that the President sent jobs overseas through the stimulus. Responding to the Obama campaign’s charges that Romney outsourced jobs while at the private equity firm Bain Capital, the GOP is attempting to weave an outsourcing story of its own — this one centered on clean energy jobs.
Even with 660,00 jobs supported by green buildings, 75,000 jobs in the wind industry, 100,000 jobs supported by the solar industry, and 155,000 jobs in the clean and efficient vehicle sector, the RNC is stepping up its claims that the Obama Administration hurt jobs through his promotion of clean energy in the stimulus package.
(Apparently, somebody forgot to send the RNC a copy of the Brookings Institution report showing that jobs in renewable energy grew by 8.3 percent during the height of the recession due to the stimulus.)
This latest RNC narrative is based almost entirely on fiction. As the Washington Post’s fact checker, Glenn Kessler points, out in his debunk of the RNC campaign: “Most of the examples are ripped out of context, involve strange leaps of logic or are so minor that it?s barely worth paying attention.”
But the campaign itself — no matter how untruthful — is definitely worth paying attention to. It puts clean energy square in the GOP’s political cross hairs and will likely serve as key piece of Mitt Romney’s talking points.
In fact, at a campaign rally earlier this week, Romney repeated some of the RNC’s claims almost word-for-word, calling Obama an outsourcer by “putting money into solar and wind energy companies that make their products outside of the U.S.”
So what are the facts? The website provides more than two dozen “ripped out of context” examples of jobs being created overseas; however, it provides no documentation backing up them up. Only when you dig deep into the “Research Briefing” section of an alternative GOP website can you find the stories they reference.
It’s no wonder the citations were hidden. The stories they link to are either laughably inconsequential, contradictory, or completely outdated. Speaking to the Washington Post, here’s how one reporter described the RNC’s use of his previous investigative work on whether foreign products were being used for renewable energy projects being constructed in America:
?The RNC’s website does correctly cite some of the data we uncovered in the course of our investigation, however most of that reporting is over two years old and the RNC site presents just a snippet of what we found. The focus of our reporting was whether or not the Obama administration created as many jobs domestically as they promised they would ? not on the question of whether there was “outsourcing” of jobs. I don’t think we saw anything that indicated the Obama administration pushed jobs overseas. What we found is that a large portion of the money from that program was given to foreign-owned companies to build wind farms here in the United States. We found those projects did create jobs here in the United States in construction and operation of those wind farms, but in many instances, the farms used turbines that may have been manufactured overseas. In many cases, manufacturers told us that domestically manufactured turbines were not available. When we last reported on the issue, we found that more and more domestic companies were getting involved, but I can’t say what the situation is today.?
In its breakdown of the campaign, The Washington Post rips down almost new every claim made in the campaign. It’s well worth checking out Glenn Kessler’s detailed analysis to see why he calls the narrative so “ridiculous.”
But there are a few other key points worth highlighting. If the Republican party has made a decision to aggressively target renewable energy in its political attacks, they need to answer a few questions.
1) Is the GOP opposing foreign investment to increase America’s competitiveness?
Oddly, the campaign laments that foreign companies invested in the U.S. market.
The stimulus package attracted a number of international companies that came to the U.S. to open manufacturing facilities and develop a variety of projects. Because America had a less mature clean energy market than other countries (mostly because of inconsistent policy support over the years), some companies outside the country set up American subsidiaries in order to take advantage of the stimulus grant program and build projects — supporting up to 75,000 jobs in the process. And as required by law, 100% of the projects that received investment tax credits through the stimulus were built in the United States.
That’s the exact opposite of outsourcing. That is drawing on new expertise and talent to help grow the nascent U.S. clean energy market and create domestic jobs. By criticizing this investment, are we saying that “America is closed for business” and that we don’t want foreign companies creating American jobs here? That’s how this campaign comes across.
2) Is the GOP now implying it doesn’t support free enterprise?
Some have been critical that companies developing projects under the stimulus were sourcing products from outside the U.S. These are legitimate concerns. However, in many cases, the products needed simply weren’t available within American borders or didn’t meet performance specifications — largely because our domestic manufacturing sector hadn’t scaled to the level needed.
Even though clean energy facilities under the grant program were all developed within U.S. borders, the GOP is now attacking companies for sourcing some products from outside the country due to cost, performance, or availability issues. But isn’t that just the free market at work? If a company can’t get something it needs one place, shouldn’t it go to where it can?
Even more stunning, the GOP campaign attacks General Electric, General Motors and First Solar for setting up manufacturing facilities in other countries. But none of these companies got a single dollar of stimulus money for these facilities; they were simply moving to where the markets demanded. By needlessly singling these companies out for attack, the GOP seems to be implying that the free market is a bad thing — but only when the narrative suits their political objectives.
3) Is the GOP prepared to sacrifice our role in a booming global industry in order to create fake scandals for short-term political gain?
Between 2004 and 2011, the global clean energy sector saw $1 trillion in investments. And last year, investments in clean energy surpassed investments in fossil fuels for the first time ever. But rather than try to capture the value from the next trillion dollars in global clean energy investments, the national Republican establishment only seems committed to turning the industry into a scandal.
Since the year-long Solyndra investigation turned up no evidence of political wrong doing, party leaders are attempting to create another false narrative about the clean energy industry. But their cover has been blown. Fact checkers have repeatedly called the claims in this new campaign “alarming” and “ultimately ridiculous.” They’ve also lamented the party’s narrative, saying “there is no excuse for these kinds of ads, which take facts out of context or simply invent them.?
Indeed, there is no way around it. This latest campaign is laughably false. Even so, we can expect party leaders to continue hammering away at these talking points until November. Whenever these talking points are used, journalists and voters need to remember how ludicrously false they are.
Reading through former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s deep report into the culture and decision-making at Penn State that allowed former football coach Jerry Sandusky to go unpunished for so long, I was struck by the way the report was framed. “The most saddening finding by the Special Investigative Counsel,” the report says, “is the total and consistent disregard by the most sernior leaders at Penn State for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims.” There’s no question that compliance with the law and with Penn State regulations were major issues in Sandusky’s case, but there’s something powerful about framing the problem in terms of empathy. There’s an extent to which empathy requires more, both emotionally and morally, than mere compliance. And throughout the report, there are small details that illustrate how empathy flowed up the hierarchy at Penn State, while it was consistently denied to people who were less powerful.
When Joe Paterno, Sandusky’s superior and mentor, was fired from his position as Penn State’s head football coach, there were major protests at Penn State on the grounds that Paterno, a Penn State legend, had been treated callously and unfairly. So it’s interesting to see little incidencies of Paterno’s own lack of empathy in the report. When Mike McQueary, who witnessed Sandusky raping a child in the Penn State locker room, called Paterno to see if he could speak with him about what he’d seen, “McQueary recalled Paterno said he did not have a job for McQueary so ‘if that’s what it’s about, don’t bother coming over,’” an unpleasant little aside. In the timeline of Sandusky’s tenure at Penn State, the one item notes that “Paterno reports the incident to [then-Athletic Director Timothy] Curley and [then-Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary] Schultz on Sunday, February 11 as Paterno did not ‘want to interfere with their weekends.’”
Even though Sandusky was the subject of serious accusations, the report documents many cases where authorities appear invested less in determining his guilt or innocence than in his comfort. When John Seasock, a counselor who met with one of Sandusky’s victims, made his report, he suggested a conversation with Sandusky but noted that “The intent of the conversation with Mr. Sandusky is not to cast dispersion (sic) upon his actions but to help him stay out of such gray area situations in the future.” A detective, Ron Schreffler “recalled that the interview was conducted in an office in the Lasch Building so as not to put Sandusky on the defensive.” Curley, in an email discussing how to handle Sandusky, proposed a less aggressive approach because “I am having trouble with going to everyone, but the person involved…I would indicate we feel there is a problem and we want to assist the individual to get professional help.”
Later, in his interview with Freeh’s team, former Penn State president Graham Spanier, who was fired along with Sandusky for his role in failing to report and investigate Sandusky’s conduct, apparently complained that he himself wasn’t given enough credit for being empathetic. “Spanier stated that the media did not focus on the part of his statement that was empathetic to the victims. When asked if the six words ‘[p]rotecting children requires the utmost vigilance’ sufficiently reflected the harm suffered by children who had been abused on the Penn State campus, Spanier said it was not his ‘place to jump to any conclusions or declare someone guilty before there was any due process,’” despite the fact that his own failures to report Sandusky meant that due process was impossible. As the report notes, “Spanier never declared Sandusky a ‘persona non grata’ on Penn State campuses, as he did towards a sports agent who, before the 1997 Citrus Bowl, bought $400 worth of clothing for a Penn State football player. Spanier was very aggressive in that case and banned the agent from campus. Spanier said the agent ‘fooled around with the integrity of the university, and I won’t stand for that.’” That $400 purchase could have resulted in an athlete losing eligibility, a defeat in the game, a disruption of the football program?in other words, consequences for Spanier. Apparently, Spanier was willing to accept those risks to his reputation, his program, and his school if they were posed by someone within Penn State football instead of outside it.
It’s amazing to compare this sense of entitlement to the feelings of people who had less power than Paterno, and Sandusky, and university administrators, and who relied on those men for things like jobs, or enrichment for their children. The mother of one of Sandusky’s victims felt clear conflict over her reaction that what Sandusky had done to what her son was wrong. “At 7:48 a.m. on May 4, 1998, the boy’s mother called Alycia Chambers, a licensed State College psychologist who had been working with her son, to see if she was ‘overreacting’ to Sandusky’s showering with her son,” the report explains. “The psychologist assured the mother that she was not overreacting and told her to make a report to the authorities.” And it’s incredibly sad to read about a janitor who witnessed Sandusky abusing a child.
The janitor immediately told one of his fellow janitors (“Janitor B”) what he had witnessed, stating that he had “fought in the [Korean] War…seen people with their guts blowed out, arms dismembered….I just witnessed something in there I’ll never forget.’…Janitor C advised Janitor A how he could report what he saw, if he wanted to do so. Janitor B said he would stand by Janitor A if he reported the incident to the police, but Janitor A said ‘no, they’ll get rid of all of us.’ Janitor B explained to the Special Investigative Counsel that reporting the incident ‘would have been like going against the President of the United States in my eyes.’
These men had such power, and the people they had power over had so little expectation of empathy from them, even in a situation involving attacks on children.
Ohio state treasurer Josh Mandel (R), who accepts donations from Nazi reenactors, is trying to unseat Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) by catering to the far right of his party. Speaking to about 300 people at a Tea Party rally on Tuesday, Mandel said he is fighting Brown on the issue of marriage equality, promising to “protect the sanctity of marriage,” and adding, “This is a fight that I will never, ever back down [from].” Brown is one of many Democratic Senators who have called for marriage equality to be included as a plank in the party’s platform this year and he also participated in an “It Gets Better” anti-bullying message.