The more things change, the more they stay the same. Faux “news” contributor and former Bush chief of staff Karl Rove was shamelessly conflating the morning after and other methods of birth control with abortion on Fox a couple of years ago.
He was back at it again this Monday following the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case with host Martha MacCallum, telling her how terrible this is going to be for Democrats because it doesn’t poll well when people are asked if someone should be forced to pay for an “abortion causing drug.”
We weren’t going to see Meet the Press host David Gregory correct the record when RNC chair Reince Priebus came on and took former Secretary of State Hillary’s congressional testimony out of context, as they always do, so Sen. Claire McCaskill had to do it instead.
McCaskill let both Priebus and his pal Karl Rove have it when asked what voters should think about the recent attacks on both Clinton’s health and their fake Benghazi outrage that they’ve beaten to death.
DAVID GREGORY: I’ll ask the same question to you. Do you think Karl Rove should apologize? Was this over the line?
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL: You know, I think Karl Rove is struggling to be relevant. I mean this is a guy who took hundreds of millions of other people’s money in the last cycle and had abject failure. So I think he’s trying to be part of the conversation. I think we all know what this is. It’s a cheap political shot. It’s the kind of politics that kind of make people not want to participate. And it’s too bad. […]
From the 05.18.2014 edition of NBC’s Meet The Press:
Karl Rove: Hillary Clinton Has Brain Damage
He said if Clinton runs for president, voters must be told what happened when she suffered a fall in December 2012.
The official diagnosis was a blood clot. Rove told the conference near LA Thursday, “Thirty days in the hospital? And when she reappears, she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury? We need to know what’s up with that.”
Rove repeated the claim a number of times to the audience. Clinton’s rep said, “Please assure Dr. Rove she’s 100 percent.”
Despite Rove’s claims, then-Secretary of State Clinton was discharged from New York Presbyterian Hospital after spending three days undergoing treatment for a potentially life-threatening blood clot.
On May 13th, Rove appeared on Fox to deny his remarks: “No, no, no, no. Wait a minute. No, no. I didn’t say she had brain damage. She had a serious health episode.”
In recent years, North Carolina has become a showcase for the unfettered flow of money into American politics.
On Tuesday, Thom Tillis, the speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, held off a libertarian challenger backed by Rand Paul to win the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Tillis was widely considered the establishment candidate, though not because his politics were notably more moderate than his Tea Party rivals’. As House speaker, Tillis proudly blocked the expansion of Medicaid in North Carolina, and he oversaw a decidedly radical legislative agenda that included restrictions on abortion and voting rights.
What marked Tillis as the candidate of the establishment was the source of his financial support, which included “nearly $2.5 million in television ads and mailers paid for by groups such as American Crossroads, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Rifle Association,” the Washington Post reported. Americans for Prosperity, bankrolled by Charles and David Koch, has already sunk millions of dollars into North Carolina in the past twelve months, to soften up Tillis’s opponent, the vulnerable Democratic freshman Kay Hagan. The Democrats, for their part, have also turned to outside billionaires and “dark money” groups to defend Hagan and their thin Senate majority. Even before Tuesday’s primary, national interest in the North Carolina Senate race had made it the third costliest contest in the country.
In recent years, North Carolina has become a showcase for the unfettered flow of money into American politics. The retail magnate and mega-donor James Arthur Pope, whom Jane Mayer wrote about in the magazine three years ago, has wielded enormous influence in the state. Wealthy liberal donors have tried to catch up, but they have a long way to go. In 2010, thanks in part to the support of Pope and allies like the Kochs and Karl Rove’s American CrossroadsPAC, Republicans took control of both houses in the state legislature for the first time since 1870. In 2012, Pat McCrory became the state’s first Republican governor in nearly two decades; last year, he named Pope the state’s budget director.
After a series of Supreme Court rulings, from Citizens United, in 2010, to McCutcheon, last month, the outsized influence of big donors now enjoys robust legal protection—as long as there is no “effort to control the exercise of an officeholder’s official duties” or “quid pro quo corruption,” in the words of Chief Justice John Roberts. In North Carolina, the debate over whether unrestricted campaign spending represents the flourishing of democracy or its corrosion is not an abstract one. It is literally in the water. For many years, environmental and community activists alleged that state officials had an inappropriately close relationship with Duke Energy, the nation’s largest electric utility, which is headquartered in Charlotte. Those allegations grew louder when McCrory, who worked at Duke Energy for twenty-nine years, arrived at the governor’s mansion.
On February 2nd, an employee at a disused Duke coal plant in Eden noticed that a coal-ash pond had breached through a storm pipe into the adjacent Dan River. No one knows how long the spill had been going on, but by the time it was under control an estimated thirty-five million gallons of slurry had entered the river. The ash coated the bottom of the waterway and raced downstream toward drinking-water intakes from Danville, Virginia, to the Atlantic Ocean.
Coal ash—the stuff left over after coal is burned to generate electricity—contains significant amounts of arsenic, lead, selenium, mercury, and other heavy metals. It can cause skin irritation and respiratory problems, and is toxic if ingested; some of its chemicals can contribute to cancer. It is also damaging to fish, wildlife, and vegetation. Some of the waste, known as “fly ash,” spews out of coal-plant chimneys into the surrounding air. “Bottom ash” is left behind in the furnaces, and often gets transferred to holding pits nearby. The Eden plant closed in 2012, to make way for another Duke Energy operation that ran on hydraulically fractured natural gas. The company apparently did not have plans to move the sixty-three years of ash that had built up in the old plant.
Suddenly, people across North Carolina began wondering if coal-ash ponds next to the plants in their neighborhoods were safe. Investigators quickly found that they were not. Probable violations of clean-water statutes were found at Duke Energy sites across the state, many in plants situated near poor or majority-black communities.
After the Dan River spill, more questions arose about Governor McCrory’s relationship with his longtime employer. Later in February, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina opened an investigation to look for evidence of outright corruption, which forced some embarrassing disclosures: Duke Energy worked with environmental regulators to keep information about potential dam breaches secret from the public, and caused deliberate failures on the part of the state’s Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (D.E.N.R.) to force Duke to clean up unlined coal ponds.
For fourteen of the twenty-nine years that he worked for Duke Energy, mainly in the human-resources and economic-development departments, McCrory simultaneously served as mayor of Charlotte, the state’s largest city. He resigned from the company when he ran for governor, but remained a shareholder. Duke Energy and its employees and subsidiaries spent three hundred thousand dollars on his bids for the governorship, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. (Serving as a mayor and holding a job in the private sector is “common throughout the state,” Joshua Ellis, a spokesman for McCrory, told me. “All North Carolina mayors are part-time.” He added, “This notion that Duke has been getting any favorable treatment is totally untrue.”)
The company does not seem to have suffered during McCrory’s time in office, however. One of his first moves as governor was to remake D.E.N.R., by installing John Skvarla III, a businessman who had been the C.E.O. of a company whose portfolio included cleaning up fracking sites, at the helm. D.E.N.R.’s budget was cut and federal offsetting grants were refused. Agency staff complained about a severe weakening in enforcement abilities; some were laid off and others resigned. Within months, Skvarla could brag about having turned “North Carolina’s No. 1 obstacle of resistance into a customer-friendly juggernaut.”
Before the spill in February, environmental groups had tried to bring a suit against Duke over improper coal-ash storage under the Clean Water Act, only to have D.E.N.R. intervene. The agency negotiated a settlement with Duke worth only ninety-nine thousand dollars, with no requirement for a cleanup. “Here, the normal relationship between the law enforcement and the law-abiding citizens was stood on its head,” Frank Holleman, a senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, which has been trying to sue Duke Energy over previous violations, said. “The law enforcer and the law breaker have been acting hand in glove.”
Duke—founded by the same family as the nearby university, but otherwise unrelated—makes no bones about its political involvement. Its activities range from donating millions to campaigns through its political-action committee, DUKEPAC, to encouraging employees to run for office, “generally, school boards and town councils,” a Duke spokesman, Tom Williams, said. “You know, the old mantra of a utility: citizenship and service.”
Indeed, the company has long enjoyed friendly and strategic relationships with both major parties. The chairman of Duke’s board, James Rogers, played an integral role in bringing the 2012 Democratic National Convention to Charlotte; after President Obama’s reëlection, the company passed the bulk of a ten-million-dollar line of credit to fund the event onto its shareholders. During this election cycle, the top recipient of the company’s contributions has been the National Republican Senatorial Committee, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, but its top individual candidate recipient so far has been Kay Hagan, the Democratic incumbent.
Duke officials and McCrory’s office have said that they are complying with the dozens of grand-jury subpoenas filed so far. Duke’s C.E.O., Lynn Good, told a luncheon crowd on April 2nd, the same day the McCutechon decision was handed down in Washington, that the company is “committed to a fact-based and disciplined approach to addressing the long-term policies of ash-basin management and closing our ash basins at our coal plants.” Williams, the company spokesman, added, “We don’t believe there has been any inappropriate contact with D.E.N.R.” The company says that it will pay for the cleanup on the Dan River, but has said that the cost of removing and mitigating other coal-ash ponds could be passed on to customers. This week, McCrory’s office also announced that the Governor had sold off all of his Duke Energy stock, telling the press that the sale, the value of which was not announced, “eliminates the often repeated, ridiculous and false, partisan left-wing attacks challenging the intent of our decisions and policies.”
The Governor and the company are right to be confident. Proving political corruption in American courts remains almost impossible. In Citizens United, McCutcheon, and Skilling v. U.S., the Roberts court has limited the idea of what can be considered corruption in a legal sense: the only act a court can call corruption, Roberts’s majority in McCutcheon held, is “a direct exchange of an official act for money”—a bald-faced bribe. Historically, proving that has been tricky. U.S. Attorney Thomas Walker has his work cut out for him.
Yet, as the midterm electoral cycle moves into the fall, even the mere perception that something is rotten in North Carolina could carry costs. “The ‘appearance of corruption’ can make matters worse,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in his dissent in McCutcheon. “It can lead the public to believe that its efforts to communicate with its representatives or to help sway public opinion have little purpose. And a cynical public can lose interest in political participation altogether.”
Source: Jonathan M. Katz for The New Yorker
Billionaire Sheldon Adelson has a history of illegal behavior and controversial comments — facts that were left out of mainstream print reporting on GOP candidates trying to win his favor last week.
The Republican Jewish Coalition met March 27-29 in Las Vegas, and the event was dubbed the “Adelson Primary" as GOP presidential hopefuls used the meeting to fawn over magnate Sheldon Adelson. Adelson is the chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., a casino and resort operating firm, who reportedly spent nearly $150 million attempting to buy the 2012 election with donations to a super PAC aligned with Mitt Romney and other outside groups (including Karl Rove’s American Crossroads). Before switching allegiance to Romney, Adelson had donated millions to Newt Gingrich. He has also given generously in the past to super PACs associated with a variety of Republican politicians, including Scott Walker, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, George W. Bush, and Eric Cantor.
Hoping to benefit from Adelson’s largesse, potential 2016 Republican candidates including Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush gathered at Adelson’s casino to “kiss the ring.”
While Republicans’ efforts to court Adelson made big news in print media over the past week, none of the articles mentioning Adelson in The New York Times, Washington Post, Politico, or The Wall Street Journal mentioned that he has come under investigation for illegal business practices, including bribery, or his history of extreme remarks.
A search of the Nexis and Factiva databases from March 24 to March 31 turned up several articles in the papers mentioning the billionaire, none of which mentioned Adelson’s checkered past. The New York Times called Adelson “one of the Republican Party’s most coveted and fearsome moneymen” and detailed his current fight against online gambling, while The Washington Post's March 25 preview of the event simply reported that Adelson was “driven by what he has said he sees as Obama’s socialist agenda. He is a fierce opponent of organized labor and is currently embroiled in a fight to ban online gambling.”
In 2012, Adelson’s corporation came under three different investigations from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Justice Department, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), an anti-bribery statute. Additionally, the Times reported at the time that several of the company’s subsidiaries also “came under investigation by Chinese regulators.”
Adelson allegedly attempted to bribe the Chief Executive of Macau, where a substantial portion of his casino business was located, and reportedly instructed Sands Corp. to bribe a Macau legislator with about $700,000 in “legal fees.” (ProPublica reported that “several Las Vegas Sands executives resigned or were fired after expressing concerns” about the fee.) A former Sands Corp. executive also alleged that Adelson fired him after he refused to engage in illegal activity and protested the presence of Chinese organized crime syndicates in Sands’ Macau casinos.
Adelson initially insisted that he was being unfairly targeted, but Sands Corp.’s own audit committee ultimatelyadmitted there were “likely violations” of the anti-bribery law. And in August 2013, Sands Corp. agreed to pay the federal government more than $47 million in a settlement to resolve a separate money-laundering investigation, in which the casinos were accused of “accepting millions from high-rolling gamblers accused of drug trafficking and embezzlement.”
Adelson has been described as a “fervent Zionist” for his opposition to any Palestinian state, and his hatred of Islam goes so far that he has said ”You don’t have to worry about using the word ‘Islamo-fascism’ or ‘Islamo-terrorist,’ when that’s what they are. Not all Islamists are terrorists, but all the terrorists are Islamists.” He has suggested that all Palestinians “teach their children that Jews are descended from swine and apes, pigs and monkeys,” and said that “all they want to do is kill” Jews.
As Rick Perlstein has noted in Rolling Stone, Adelson is also vociferously opposed to unions. In 1999, when Adelson built a new casino, he failed to pay so many of his contractors that they filed a whopping 366 liens against the property, in addition to filing complaints with stage agencies and the FBI. When the new casino eventually opened, union workers protested outside — and Adelson twice demanded that police arrest the peaceful protestors (emphasis added):
Adelson told the cops to start making arrests; the cops refused. Glen Arnodo, an official at the union at the time, relates what happened next: “I was standing on the sidewalk and they had two security guards say I was on private property, and if I didn’t move they’d have to put me under ‘citizen’s arrest.’ I ignored them.” The guards once again told the police to arrest Arnodo and again, he says, they refused. The Civil Rights hero Rep. John Lewis, in town to support the rally, said the whole thing reminded him of living in the South during Jim Crow.
Afterwards, Adelson went so far as to allegedly attempt to pay off a hospital when it announced it would honor the head of the Vegas hotel workers union.
Adelson told The Wall Street Journal that the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill which would allow workers to unionize a workplace with majority sign-up, was “one of the two fundamental threats to society.” The other was radical Islam.
If print outlets are going to devote space to the fight among Republicans to win Adelson’s favor (and money), they owe it to readers to give a more accurate picture of the man holding the wallet.
Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich is busy running for reelection, but that hasn’t stopped his former Fox News colleagues from promoting him as a possible 2016 presidential candidate. Fox News has praised Kasich’s tenure as governor, and touted him as “a serious potential candidate for president” with a record that gives progressives “reason to fear.”
Kasich is the quintessential Fox News candidate, having used a perch at the network to profitably stay in the public eye between runs for public office. He joined Fox in 2001 after serving nine terms in Congress and left in 2009 to run for Ohio governor. He was a frequent presence on the network as a guest host for The O’Reilly Factor, and the host of the programs From The Heartland and Heroes.
Fox News treated Kasich to numerous softball interviews during his successful 2010 run. Sean Hannity told Kasich during one such interview: “You do me a favor. Go get elected governor” and “You can help us. Win the state of Ohio.” During an appearance on The O’Reilly Factor, Kasich asked for donations while Fox News put his website address on-screen (which drew a complaint from the Democratic Governors Association).
Kasich’s gubernatorial campaign also received fundraising support from Fox News. Sean Hannity headlined a "high-dollar fund-raiser" for Kasich in October 2009. Mike Huckabee appeared at a 2009 Kasich campaign event. Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch and his then-wife contributed $20,000 to the campaign, and then-Fox News parent company News Corporation gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which helped elect Kasich.
Kasich has claimed he’s not interested in running for president in 2016, telling an Ohio reporter that he “tried to run for president back at the end of the ’90s and 2000 and no one was interested … Now, I’m not interested.” In his gubernatorial campaign, Kasich will likely face Democrat Ed FitzGerald, who has unsuccessfully askedKasich to sign a pledge promising to serve a full term if reelected.
A 2016 Kasich campaign has been a popular topic of conversation for Fox News. While the network frequently applauds Ohio’s economic performance during Kasich’s tenure, the state’s "rate of job growth was below the national average."
Fox News Sunday Anchor Chris Wallace: Kasich A “Serious Potential Candidate For President.”During his March 23 show, Wallace previewed Kasich’s segment by stating, “as the 2016 race for the White House heats up, one potential GOP candidate is counting his states’ economic turnaround.” Wallace later introduced Kasich by focusing on his presidential prospects:
WALLACE: With two years until the 2016 presidential election, there’s a lot of talk the strongest GOP nominee would be a governor from the Midwest. One possibility from the key electoral state of Ohio is making his state’s economic turnaround the basis for his re- election bid in November. Joining us now from Columbus, Ohio, Governor John Kasich and, governor, welcome back to Fox News Sunday.
Wallace’s first question to Kasich was about his tenure as Ohio governor, asking: “What is the secret to your success?” Wallace later asked Kasich about criticism from FitzGerald, including about whether he would pledge to serve his entire term (Kasich dodged the question).
While previewing his show on the March 20 broadcast of Fox News Radio’s Kilmeade & Friends, Wallace said Kasich has led a “big turnaround in the economy of Ohio” and he “really is a serious potential candidate for president in 2016 even though at this point he’s saying, ‘not interested.’”
FoxNews.com’s promotion of Kasich’s interview focused on Kasich and 2016:
Fox VP Cavuto: George Soros “Has Reason To Fear You” In 2016. Fox News host and vice president Neil Cavuto told Kasich on the March 18 edition of Your World that he’s heard “reports” that financier (and Media Matters donor) George Soros “fears you the most of any prospective candidate.” Cavuto then listed Kasich’s “success” as governor, and said Soros “has reason to fear you.” At the end of the interview, Kasich told Cavuto, “you’re the best.”
FoxNews.com Op-Ed: “Why Progressive, George Soros Crowd Fears Run By Ohio Governor.” Republican strategist and lobbyist Van Hipp wrote a March 7 piece touting Kasich’s tenure as governor as a “shining example” of “why the free enterprise system works.” Hipp added: “The more I thought about it, the more I realized why the George Soros crowd fears Kasich the most. They can’t demonize him and use the same old worn out liberal playbook they’ve used against national GOP contenders in recent years.”
Fox News Contributors Tout Kasich As Contender. Kasich has been mentioned by Fox News personalities during discussions about 2016 presidential candidates. Sean Hannity said on January 21 that he wants a president big field with Kasich, among others. Contributor George Will said on February 16’s Fox News Sunday that the race will be decided in the Midwest and said “you have to get three more presidential candidates out of those states — Governors Kasich in Ohio, Snyder in Michigan and Walker in Wisconsin.” And contributor Karl Rove also mentioned Kasich as a potential candidate on the January 13 edition of The O’Reilly Factor.
Their immediate reactions: To mock equal pay and climate change.
As President Obama delivered his State of the Union, Republican lawmakers and conservative pundits took to Twitter with their immediate reactions. Obama’s discussion of taking executive action outside of Congressional deadlock provoked particularly creative responses, but they managed to mock equal pay and climate change, as well.
Here are the highlights:
1. Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX):
2. Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX):
3. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS):
4. Townhall’s Katie Pavlich countered Obama’s portion on climate change being a settled debate:
5. Erick Erickson, during Obama’s comments about equal pay for women and men:
6. Karl Rove:
(via Huffington Post: 7 Charts To Understand Citizens United On Its 4th Anniversary)
WASHINGTON — Four years ago the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case that corporations could spend unlimited sums of money on independent political spending. That ruling also applied to labor unions and, following a subsequent lower court ruling, to individual donors, as well.
The ensuing four years have seen significant changes to the way campaigns are funded, and an increase in influence for big money donors, as the independent political spending allowed by the court exploded. As these groups have spent more money, the sources of a large portion of their spending have gone undisclosed.
Below are seven charts to help you understand the impact of the Citizens United ruling as it reaches its fourth year:
Big Money DominatesTop 1% Of Donors Accounted For Two-Thirds Of All Super PAC Funds In 2012
- Top 1%: 68%
- Other 99%: 32%Source: Center for Responsive Politics.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the top 1 percent of super PAC donors accounted for 68 percent of all contributions made to super PACs in the 2012 election, the first full election cycle following the ruling.
These donors were led by casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his family, who combined to give more than $93 million to super PACs. The super PAC, created following both the Citizens United and the related SpeechNow.org decisions, became the primary vehicle for independent spending for the wealthy. While these groups are required to disclose their spending, they are also allowed to spend all of their funds on electoral efforts, unlike nonprofit organizations. But more on that later.
The top 1 percent of super PAC donors reads like the Forbes 400 or a guest list at Davos. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg operates his very own super PAC. The libertarian venture capitalist billionaire Peter Thiel became the largest donor to the Club for Growth’s super PAC as it worked to defeat establishment Republicans in primary campaigns. And billionaire hedge funders James Simons, Robert Mercer, Paul Singer and Ken Griffin all gave millions.
Billionaires now have an easy outlet for their entrepreneurial endeavors in politics. The only question is whether they want their names on a plaque — in this case, a disclosed FEC report — or if they would rather remain anonymous.
Of course, it isn’t so simple. The court’s ruling opened the door for nonprofit corporations, whether they are funded by corporations or not, to spend unlimited amounts on independent campaign activity so long as they remain in bounds of the lax tax laws that govern them. These tax laws do not require the disclosure of nonprofit donors. In fact, prior court rulings and Federal Election Commission legal interpretations had protected nonprofits from donor disclosure.
Nonprofits are not ideal for individuals or corporations who want to spend money on independent political activity, due to tax laws requiring these groups to spend a majority of their time outside of politics. But the donor anonymity they are guaranteed can make nonprofits worth the investment. The billionaire Koch brothers and their donor collective used a labyrinthine network of nonprofit groups to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into both the 2010 and 2012 elections.
One of the most obvious examples of donors’ desire for anonymity comes in the form of the Crossroads groups founded by Karl Rove. There is American Crossroads, the super PAC that discloses its donors, and there is Crossroads GPS, the nonprofit that does not. As evidenced in the chart below, donors have chosen anonymity at a rate of two-to-one since the groups were founded in 2010.Source: Federal Election Commission and Internal Revenue Service.Donors Choose Dark Money Over Disclosure
- American Crossroads: $144,047,997
- Crossroads GPS: $256,547,160
More Money Than Candidates
In the 2012 election, independent groups spent more money than the actual candidates in three general election Senate races. That’s right — in Indiana, Virginia and Wisconsin, the major party candidates in the general election were outspent by independent groups.
That same dynamic played out in at least six House races in 2012. In California’s 35th District, independent groups — and really, just one independent group — spent two times as much as the candidates. In this race between two Democrats, Michael Bloomberg’s super PAC intervened with $3.3 million as the billionaire mayor sought to defeat the pro-gun incumbent Rep. Joe Baca (D). And he did: Bloomberg’s super PAC spending is credited with helping the heavily underfunded Gloria Negrete McLeod defeat Baca.
Shattered Television Advertising RecordsSource: Wesleyan Media Project. Numbers are based on data released in the paper titled, “Negative, Angry, and Ubiquitous: Political Advertising in 2012.”Presidential Television Advertising Surged Post-Citizens United
- 2004: 753,000
- 2008: 796,000
- 2012: 1,140,000
The Wesleyan Media Project tracked television advertising in the 2012 election and found that advertising in the presidential campaign shattered previous records for money spent and advertising volume.
The number of television advertisements in the presidential general election jumped from approximately 753,000 in 2004 to approximately 1.14 million in 2012. While the decision by both President Barack Obama and also GOP nominee Mitt Romney to forgo public funding accounts for some of the increase, the rise of independent spending also played a major role.
Source: The Huffington Post
Don Feder, the communications director for the World Congress of Families, is out with another anti-immigrant blog post, this time attacking immigration reform proponents like “Senator Juan” McCain for promoting the “loss of national identity” through immigration
In the blog post, posted in his capacity as a freelance “political/communications consultant” on the website GrasstopsUSA.com, Feder promotes the now-familiar line that Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election because he just wasn’t conservative enough (or, in Feder’s words, lacked “manly firmness”). In particular, Feder attacks McCain and GOP strategist Karl Rove for their support for immigration reform, which he claims will turn off “Main Street voters” who “care deeply about…loss of national identity.”
"Rove isn’t just wrong, he’s wrong the way Napoleon was wrong when he invaded Russia," Feder writes. "Today, elections aren’t won in the middle but on the fringes."
He contends that the Democratic base, or “fringe,” constitutes “the ideological, the envious, public employees, angry, single women and the mooch brigade.”
Last year, Feder wrote a virulently anti-immigrant blog post, in which he claimed that “the illegal immigrants swarming over our southern border are more akin to the pagan armies which regularly invaded the land of Israel and were repulsed by military force.”
Although Feder has written these rants in his personal capacity, his railing against Latino immigrants would seemato conflict with his employer’s goals of uniting “many national, ethnic, cultural, social and religious communities” in their anti-gay, anti-choice cause.
Some of the nation’s most prominent conservatives sought to downplay New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s bridge scandal on the Sunday morning political talk shows, suggesting it paled in comparison to purported Obama Administration perfidies like Benghazi or the IRS “targeting” of conservative groups.
“Chris Christie has been totally open here,” Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), said, dismissing any notion that Christie had something to do with the political closing of the George Washington Bridge.
“He stood there for 111 minutes in an open dialogue with the press. Now, only if Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would give us 111 seconds of that, would we find out some things we want to find out about Obamacare, Benghazi, The IRS.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) echoed Priebus. “I think [Christie] took the bull by the horns, held people accountable, fired people. And I think it is a very big difference than how this administration has handled things — IRS, Benghazi, you can keep your health insurance if you want it. Nobody’s been fired over that. And what we’re seeing is a big difference.” Kinzinger concluded that the scandal “may set him up for 2016.”
“This is not Watergate. This is not even the IRS targeting of last year,” said Wall Street Journal Editorial Board Member Kimberly Strassel. She then invoked a older conservative line blaming Obama for last year’s devastating budget cuts and government shutdown: “in fact, it’s not even, if you think about this as a raw display of political power, it’s not even this White House using the sequester and the shutdown to inconvenience millions of Americans to make a political point.”
“How could you not have known?,” former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani asked rhetorically. “How did President Obama not know about the IRS targeting right wing groups?”
Sean Spicer, the RNC’s communications director, spun Christie’s handling as “what America is yearning for.”
“Yes, mistakes will happen,” Spicer said. “Do you own them? Do you take responsibility for them? Do you put in place — take action to ensure they don’t happen again. Too often, whether it’s Benghazi, GSA, the IRS scandal, we don’t say ‘me me me.’ We say it’s somebody else’s fault, blame somebody else, I had nothing to do with this. Chris Christie did. He said the buck stops with me.”
Perhaps the forthright summary of this position came in a tweet from Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL). “No Christie fan but ‘Bridgegate’ is small potatoes vs [Ambassador Stevens] + 3 others killed due to neglect/[mismanagement] -selective outrage #Benghazi.”
The George Washington Bridge closure disrupted four separate emergency medical response efforts, including one for a 91 year old woman who later died. The newest documents about the scandal, released after Governor Christie’s press conference , have shown the scope of the scandal to be wider than previously believed.
Karl Rove made similar comments to the above on Fox News Sunday. In response to Bob Woodward’s argument that the Christie scandal was uniquely bad because it “came out of that office,” Rove said “So did Benghazi, and so did IRS… come out of appointees of President Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton!” The Republican strategist concluded that “the amount of attention paid this week to Chris Christie makes the coverage of Benghazi at the same time and the coverage of the IRS pale in significance” and that Christie’s handling of the scandal shows that the Governor has “what we want in a leader.”
In another attempt to cast the Obama administration’s focus on income inequality as an Obamacare distraction, Fox contributor Karl Rove argued that raising the minimum wage “doesn’t affect a lot of American workers.” But raising the minimum wage would impact 30 million workers, or nearly 20 percent of the American workforce.
On the January 6 edition of America’s Newsroom, Fox News contributor Karl Rove dismissed the Obama administration’s efforts to raise the minimum wage as yet another attempt to distract from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and falsely claimed that raising the minimum wage “doesn’t affect a lot of American workers” (emphasis added):
HEMMER: You know, I’m trying to figure this out, Karl. Do you see that as a new front to argue politics in America today in order to set up the debate for the midterm elections next November? Or do you see it as a distraction away from the issues of Obamacare? Is it A or B or is it a mix of both then?
ROVE: Well it’s a mix of both but I thought it was interesting yesterday on the Sunday talk programs, Todd, from NBC talked about how he had talked to members of the administration, Chuck Todd said he talked to the people in the administration about the agenda for 2014 and the administration talked about everything but Obamacare. This is first and foremost an attempt to pivot away from something that is incredibly damaging to the administration, the so-called Affordable Care Act, and again, as I said, short run, there’s a little bit of advantage here in the next couple of weeks or months in talking about raising the minimum wage and which doesn’t affect a lot of American workers.
Rove seems unaware that raising the minimum wage would impact 30 million American workers, or nearly 20 percent of the nation’s workforce of 155 million. According to the Economic Policy Institute, raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by 2016 “would lift incomes for millions of American workers, most of whom do not fit the prevailing impressions of low-wage workers as teenagers working part-time jobs for extra spending money.”
Number of Workers Affected By Increasing The Federal Minimum wage to $10.10 By July 1, 2015
Rove’s comments mark the latest attack in Fox’s longstanding campaign against raising the minimum wage and promote the network’s narrative that any and all action by the Obama administration is an attempt to distract from the ACA.
From the 01.06.2014 edition of FNC’s America’s Newsroom:
In an aggressive move designed to crack down on free-spending outside political groups, the Obama administration is proposing strict new rules curtailing nonprofits like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and the pro-Obama Priorities USA.
The draft proposal, released Tuesday by the Treasury Department, would keep so-called social welfare 501(c)(4) nonprofits from getting a tax exemption if they engage in too much “candidate related” political activity.
The groups were at the heart of this summer’s scandal over Internal Revenue Service targeting of tea party and other conservative groups seeking tax exemptions.
The proposal is the first major response to a Treasury inspector general report in May blasting the IRS for added scrutiny of tea party conservative groups seeking tax exemption — a major scandal that led President Barack Obama to fire the acting IRS commissioner and other officials to exit the agency.
The inspector general report recommended the IRS tighten its rules.
The new regulations would affect a broad swath of political nonprofit groups that have come to play an outsized and influential role in federal elections.
Crossroads, founded by George W. Bush adviser Rove, along with its sister super PAC together spent $325 million in 2011 and 2012 against Obama and Senate Democrats. Priorities, set up by former Obama aide Bill Burton, raised $10.7 million in the 2012 cycle.
Dozens of these political nonprofits have used 501(c)(4) tax status as a way to shield their donors.
Fox News political analyst Juan Williams on Sunday told conservative colleagues Karl Rove and Brit Hume that their obsession about a so-called scandal over last year’s terrorist attack in Benghazi was “all in your head, baby.”
During a Fox News Sunday panel segment devoted to the one year anniversary of the Benghazi attack, Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz agreed that there were unanswered questions, but that “there is a drumbeat among conservatives — including some at Fox News — to turn this into a full-fledged scandal as opposed to a horribly tragic episode that killed four Americans.”
"And I do think that some Republicans — I’m not saying all — are trying to use this as a weapon against Hillary Clinton," he added.
Hume, however, insisted that there were “elements of mendacity in what the administration said and did after this attack.”
Williams pointed out that there was “not one shred of evidence that the White House knew about this beforehand, they covered up anything.”
"To make a scandal out of this, really — you say this is not going away, let me tell you, this is gone away," William said, turning to Rove.
"No, no. No, it hasn’t," Rove replied. "The American people were lied to. Somebody concocted a deliberate lie that this was not a terrorist attack, that this was a spontaneous response to video that no one saw. The American people were having [the] legitimate question, why were efforts not undertaken to save our people."
"Efforts were made," Williams pointed out.
At that point, Rove lost his cool.
"No, they weren’t!" for former Bush senior adviser shouted. "The death of four Americans and why they were allowed to die and no one went to their aid is not in the weeds, with all due respect, Juan! It’s not in the weeds!"
"What’s in the weeds is that you continue to prosecute this like there’s some huge crime," Williams remarked. "Karl, stop living in the past and trying to get after Susan Rice and whoever. This has nothing to do with Ambassador Stevens [Christopher] Stevens."
"We don’t who is responsible for lying to the American people!" Rove yelled. "You may be comfortable with the American people being told a deliberate lie by the administration, but I’m not. And I think we need to get to the bottom of it."
"Karl, you can continue to raise your voice, but it does not speak to the heart of the issue," Williams said, rolling his eyes.
"One more thing, think of the list of — going around this table here — the list of questions that remain unanswered to this day are what make this still a legitimate topic," Hume opined. "And, Juan, I’m sorry to say that this is simply not over."
"It’s gone, baby," Williams quipped. "It’s in your head. That’s about the only place."
Believing they are losing the messaging war with progressives, a group of prominent conservatives in Washington—including the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and journalists from Breitbart News and the Washington Examiner—has been meeting privately since early this year to concoct talking points, coordinate messaging, and hatch plans for “a 30 front war seeking to fundamentally transform the nation,” according to documents obtained by Mother Jones.
Dubbed Groundswell, this coalition convenes weekly in the offices of Judicial Watch, the conservative legal watchdog group. During these hush-hush sessions and through a Google group, the members of Groundswell—including aides to congressional Republicans—cook up battle plans for their ongoing fights against the Obama administration, congressional Democrats, progressive outfits, and the Republican establishment and “clueless” GOP congressional leaders. They devise strategies for killing immigration reform, hyping the Benghazi controversy, and countering the impression that the GOP exploits racism. And the Groundswell gang is mounting a behind-the-scenes organized effort to eradicate the outsize influence of GOP über-strategist/pundit Karl Rove within Republican and conservative ranks. (For more on Groundswell’s “two front war” against Rove—a major clash on the right—click here.)
One of the influential conservatives guiding the group is Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, a columnist for the Daily Caller and a tea party consultant and lobbyist. Other Groundswell members include John Bolton, the former UN ambassador; Frank Gaffney, the president of the Center for Security Policy; Ken Blackwell and Jerry Boykin of the Family Research Council; Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch; Gayle Trotter, a fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum; Catherine Engelbrecht and Anita MonCrief of True the Vote; Allen West, the former GOP House member; Sue Myrick, also a former House GOPer; Diana Banister of the influential Shirley and Banister PR firm; and Max Pappas, a top aide to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
Among the conveners listed in an invitation to a May 8 meeting of Groundswell were Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News Network; Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent who resoundingly lost a Maryland Senate race last year (and is now running for a House seat); Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society; Sandy Rios, a Fox News contributor; Lori Roman, a former executive director of the American Legislative Exchange Council; and Austin Ruse, the head of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. Conservative journalists and commentators participating in Groundswell have included Breitbart News reporters Matthew Boyle and Mike Flynn, Washington Examiner executive editor Mark Tapscott, and National Review contributor Michael James Barton.
Groundswell has collaborated with conservative GOPers on Capitol Hill, including Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Cruz and Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), a leading tea partier. At its weekly meetings, the group aims to strengthen the right’s messaging by crafting Twitter hashtags; plotting strategy on in-the-headlines issues such as voter ID, immigration reform, and the sequester; promoting politically useful scandals; and developing “action items.”
A certain amount of secrecy cloaks Groundswell’s efforts. Though members have been encouraged to zap out tweets with a #GSW hashtag, a message circulated to members of its Google group noted that the role of certain advocates should be kept “off of the Google group for OPSEC [operational security] reasons.” This “will avoid any potential for bad press for someone if a communication item is leaked,” the message explained. (The Groundswell documents were provided to Mother Jones by a source who had access to its Google group page and who has asked not to be identified.)
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Could Todd Akin be the new comeback kid?
The 65-year-old former congressman says don’t rule him out. Nearly six months after losing the Senate race he continues to be attacked from all sides of the political spectrum. But the greatest barbs are thrown by fellow Republicans.
In an exclusive interview with KSDK-TV, the former Missouri congressman said, “I’m not going to try to get even with anybody. If you start to blame everyone else for something that happened you didn’t like, it will destroy you. It will eat you alive.”
After 12 years representing Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District, this infamous quote, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” derailed his campaign and his reputation.
Would he take those six seconds back?
Akin said, “Oh, of course I would! I’ve relived them too many times. But that is not reality.”
In the past, Akin said he regrets those remarks but does he believe they are true? Does he believe in his heart that the female body can stop a pregnancy in the case of a rape?
Akin said, “No, no and I apologized for that. All of us are fallible, we make mistakes, and we say things the wrong way. I really lived that moment many, many times.”
KSDK asked, “Do you regret it?”
"Of course. You think what would it have been like if I hadn’t done that."
Within a few days, after the “legitimate rape” quote went viral, mainstream Republican Party bosses lobbied hard for him to get of the race. The behind-the-scenes back room pressure was immense according to one Akin insider.
he former congressman reflected, “Republican leadership was strong that you have to step down. But there was a very strong grass roots element saying don’t you give in to those party bosses. You stay in there and you keep fighting.”
That divide between the Republican establishment and Akin’s grassroots supporters percolates today on a national level.
Akin explained, “Really what it goes back to is whether the Republican Party is going to be run by the insiders, or run by the grassroots organization. That’s a question still to be determined.”
Republican strategist Karl Rove recently started a new Pac aimed at opposing candidates like Akin.
Rove argued, “Some people think the best we can do is Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock - they’re wrong. We need to do better if we hope to take over the United States Senate. We need to get better conservative candidates and win.”
Critics on the far right say they won’t allow Rove or anyone else on the “inside” to exclude them.
Akin does think the Republican Party is at dangerous crossroads.
"I believe the party will either stand on principled positions or its going to be replaced by some other party," he said.
As for the next chapter, Akin says he’s ready for a comeback, but isn’t sure what form that comeback will take. He’s considering academia, public speaking, and even politics.
We asked, “Would you ever consider putting your hat back in the political ring again?”
"It’s one of those things that depends on the circumstances really. I don’t rule anything out," he said. " I consider it a bright new future and I’m interested to see what the possibilities are."