We have and will keep reviewing all the polls. But I think nothing says more about the transformation of the politics of gay marriage than the fact that the main reaction from the GOP has been to claim that President Obama is just playing politics,[...]
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Are Ron Paul supporters preparing to sow chaos at the GOP's convention? [...]
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Three JPMorgan Chase executives will take the fall for the "Fail Whale" trades that have so far cost the firm $2 billion. But Bruno Iskil, the actual London Whale, so far still has a job, for some reason, as does Jamie Dimon, the CEO who has been on an[...]
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Gov. Scott Walker, caught on tape ? this time with a real billionaire, not a spoofed one. (Note, however, that the "reporting to the boss" tone is intact.)In this video from January 2011, newly elected Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker tells his largest donor, billionaire Diane Hendricks, that he plans to use divide-and-conquer to turn Wisconsin into a right-to-work state. The video just...
The great genius of Will Ferrell is his capacity for embodying pompous, privileged blowhards in movies that critique them and gives them opportunities to grow?his actorly portfolio is one in which almost no one is irredeemable. In the past, he’s done this with sexist news anchors in the 1970s and NASCAR drivers in our own day. And now he’s taking on some of the most cosseted, self-important people in America: our politicians. What looks great about The Campaign is how squarely it’s aimed at the practices of the modern election, rather than at voters or democracy itself:
It’s all there: the John Edwards-like obsession with looks, the conviction that the candidate must be at the center of attention even in the aftermath of his own gaffe (or, okay, baby-punching), the pablum of pander. To my knowledge, no existing American politician has declared that “Filipino Tilt-a-Whirl Operators are this nation’s backbone,” but I eagerly await the day when one does. The Campaign looks to be the inverse of Parks and Recreation?hopefully it’ll help us bide time until that noble pean to the best in American politics returns to the air.
Conservatives are giddy this morning after Steven Rattner, who oversaw the auto rescue under President Obama, described the Obama campaign’s new ads attacking Mitt Romney’s record destroying jobs at Bain Capital as “unfair.”
The RNC jumped on the video of Rattner on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, while the National Review, Daily Caller, and others were almost immediately up with stories about “former Obama economic adviser Steve Rattner” criticizing the president’s campaign.
But before conservatives pounce, they may want to watch Rattner’s entire remarks, which are really an indictment of Romney.
“Mitt Romney made a mistake ever talking about the fact that he created 100,000 jobs,” Rattner said. “Bain Capital’s responsibility was never to create 100,000 jobs, or some other number, it was to make profits for its investors.” Rattner — who spent his career at Lehman Brothers and other Wall Street firms — made it clear that he thinks the ad is “unfair” only because it assumes that companies should care about their employees. Watch it:
Technically, of course, Ratter is right — companies’ only legal obligation is to create value for their owners. But as Rattner notes, Romney has built his campaign on claiming that Bain was actually some kind of altruistic job creation machine. Just this morning, Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul said, “Mitt Romney helped create more jobs in his private sector experience and more jobs as Governor of Massachusetts than President Obama has for the entire nation.”
By acknowledging that “Bain Capital’s responsibility was never to create…jobs,” Ratter is unwittingly endorsing the entire message of the Obama campaign ads, which is that Bain prioritized profits for it wealthy owners over jobs and pensions for its middle-class employees.
Prioritizing profit above all else is, of course, fine for someone running a private equity firm. But it’s not likely to win over voters in the fall, so Romney has disingenuously tried to paint Bain as something other than the profit-hungry corporation that it was. The Obama campaign was merely pointing out the human consequences.
Meanwhile, Rattner, who was embroiled in scandal relating to an alleged kickback scheme involving New York state’s pension fund, and paid tens of millions of dollars in settlements after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and New York state filed lawsuits, may not be the best arbiter of fairness in high finance.
The Obama campaign and the super PAC Priorities USA recently fired back at Americans for Prosperity, highlighting Mitt Romney’s ties to a funding source of $18.5 million in energy attack ads: Koch Industries.
Koch Industries has produced its own video claiming it doesn’t deserve the label of a secretive Big Oil corporation.
Shockingly, Factcheck.org and the Washington Post have taken up Koch’s argument. Factcheck.org wrote that despite Koch’s $100 billion revenue, the corporation’s diverse holdings mean ?it is hardly in the league of the truly ‘big oil’companies.” The Washington Post Factchecker took the same angle.
While it’s true the most profitable U.S. corporations — ExxonMobil and Chevron — are larger than Koch, using this standard to claim the company isn’t Big Oil is incorrect. Let’s take a look at some key facts:
- The Koch brothers’ net worth tops $50 billion and they have pledged to spend $60 million to defeat President Barack Obama, according to the Huffington Post.
- The Koch PAC is the largest oil and gas contributor — donating more than even ExxonMobil — spending over $1 million in each of the last two cycles. This cycle, it has spent almost $750,000. Koch Industries sends 90 percent of these contributions to Republicans.
- It’s the fourth-largest lobbyist in the oil and gas industry, spending $2,300,000 so far in 2012 and over $8 million in 2011.
- Koch Industries emits over 300 million tons of greenhouse gases a year.
- Flint Hills Resources, a Koch subsidiary, processes 300 million barrels of oil a year, which is responsible for up to five percent of the entire U.S. 7-gigaton carbon footprint.
- Koch says itself that the company is on par with big banks and is among the world?s top five oil speculators.
- Koch is a major player in driving up gas prices through speculation, hurting American consumers. ThinkProgress reported that in 2008, Koch leased four supertankers to hold oil in the Gulf, leading to a gas price increase anywhere from 20 to 40 cents a gallon at the time.
- According to Inside Climate News, Koch industries “has touched virtually every aspect of the tar sands industry since the company established a toehold in Canada more than 50 years ago.” It is active in mining Canada’s tar sands and exporting to the U.S., and is active in Canadian politics, with half a million dollars in donations between 2007-2010.
- As reporters consider these factors, Koch has been widely reported as a Big Oil corporation by media outlets like Politico, Forbes, NPR, and Politifact.
It is absurd to say Koch Industries is not Big Oil when it plays such a hugely influential role in a wide variety of fossil fuel markets — all while flexing its power to protect the oil industry’s special interests.
In an appearance on Meet The Press Sunday morning, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus attempted to clarify his party’s positions on same-sex marriage and also addressed the question of employment discrimination. Host David Gregory pressured Priebus about comments he made last week that states should make their own decisions about banning same-sex marriage, saying “you can’t federalize that kind of mandate,” ? remarks noticeably out of step with Mitt Romney’s support for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Priebus completely flipped on these “inartful” comments, aligning the party’s views with the candidate’s:
PRIEBUS: Well, first of all, I agree with the Governor.
GREGORY: Did you misspeak?
PRIEBUS: Perhaps it was inartful. [...]
GREGORY: The issue is: you said, “Don’t federalize it.” The nominee of the party says, “Federalize it,” a constitutional ban. Is that what the party believes?
PRIEBUS: Of course.
GREGORY: And it should be part of the platform?
PRIEBUS: It is part of the platform. And for the record, we do agree with the marriage amendment, and we do agree with DOMA, but as we sit today, we don’t have a federal mandate ? excuse me, a federal ? excuse me, a constitutional amendment.
Despite this flip against equality, Priebus did claim that gays and lesbians deserve “equal rights, in regards to say, discrimination in the workplace,” which raises new questions about where the Republican party stands on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) recently said he “hasn’t thought much” about ENDA, but Republicans like Reps. Allen West (FL), James Lankford (OK), Kenny Marchant (TX), and Sen. Mike Lee (UT) have all opposed the long-proposed bill, arguing the protections are unnecessary.
Iran recently sentenced four men to death by hanging for sodomy, according to Pink News. Iran has a long record of human rights violations against its LGBT community. “I hope international organizations act quickly and effectively on this specific case,” said Mehri Jafari, an Iranian rights lawyer based in London, comparing the case to four other men executed in the past five months. Last year, Iranians started an underground support movement by launching a campaign to come out on Facebook. This year, though, Iranian clerics heightened their rhetoric against their LGBT compatriots, with one influential cleric saying gay people were “lower than animals.? According to Amnesty International, Iran ranks second in the world in executions.
Mitt Romney’s campaign is looking to fill its vice presidential slot with a “boring white guy,” according to one Republican who is privy to some details of the campaign’s decision.
Politico reports that Romney is trying his hardest to pick “a deliberate anti-Palin,” and apparently that means he cannot pick a person of color or a woman:
One Republican official familiar with the campaign?s thinking said it will be designed to produce a pick who is safe and, by design, unexciting ? a deliberate anti-Palin. The prized pick, said this official: an ?incredibly boring white guy.?
Of course, there are plenty of women and people of color who would be perfectly boring — and suitable — choices for Romney’s running mate: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is a crowd favorite, Louisiana Bobby Jindal (R) is about as boring as it gets, and there’s plenty of hubbub over Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). But the objective of boring, white, and male shows that the Romney campaign suggests absolute vanilla-ness over the best candidate.