Day One

Recently Mitt Romney rolled out two new ads touting what he plans to do on his first day on the job if elected President. Both are filled with some lofty goals to say the least, with the scariest part being that he may actually believe he accomplish all these tasks on day one.

For the sake of time, I will set aside the ad mentions of overturning the Affordable Care Act and introducing tax cuts/reforms and just focus on two of the big hitters, approving Keystone Pipeline and repealing job killing regulations.

In the midst of all the pomp and circumstance of the inaugural activities, these ads want us to believe that Mitt Romney will make approving the Keystone Pipeline and the repeal of regulations his top priorities. So even with all the other issues facing our country, he’s going to make building a pipeline that transports dirty tar sands oil from Canada, through highly sensitive areas of our country, to the already endangered Gulf Coast his first act as President? And as his next act he will repeal all the regulations he deems job killers? Will there be any regard for considering that some regulations are good, can actually create jobs and are meant to keep us safe? And the really pressing question, will this be before or after he picks out his power tie and presidential cufflinks for his ceremonial walk down Pennsylvania Avenue?

On one hand, these ads are hard to believe and can probably just be chalked up to campaign rhetoric and the willingness to make promises, which probably can’t be kept (especially since Congress doesn’t care about “Day One” or “Day Three Hundred”).  In fact, the only way he could probably make this kind of promise happen is if he pays for it to become a reality. 

The scary thing is that he could. These ads could be plausible because Romney is seeking counsel from the likes of Harold Hamm. Hamm, who serves as Romney’s top energy advisor, is the billionaire chairman and CEO of Continental Resources. And, just one month after assuming his role as energy advisor, contributed nearly $1 million to the pro-Romney Super PAC. Raising legitimate questions about his influence with candidate Romney and how those ties could benefit his company.

The saying goes “you are who you associate with.” For Mitt Romney this seems to be not only true, but could become our reality if he is given a day one. 




Enough is Enough, Why Some Ad Campaigns Go Too Far

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been speechless. As a professional communicator, that’s probably a good thing. However, when the following headline: Heartland Institute compares belief in global warming to mass murder, reached my inbox this morning, I sat staring at my computer screen, with my mouth gaping, completely at a loss for words. Seconds later, after finally recovering from my initial shock, the words “now I’ve seen it all” came to mind.

While the Heartland Institute is known for its outlandish propaganda against climate change, this is a new low and might I say ill-advised attempt to win over the hearts and minds of Americans. A recent poll from the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion shows that 62% of Americans believe climate change is real. This number is significantly higher than polling from just two years ago. The trend is linked to respondents acknowledging their own personal experiences as the main reason they believe the earth is warming.

Aside from the fact that solid scientific evidence and public opinion are not on their side, the Heartland Institute decided to plow ahead with comparing the majority of Americans (myself included) to Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber), Charles Manson (a mass murderer) and Fidel Castro (a dictator) in their new ad campaign in Chicago. If, like us you don’t really identify with those notorious figures, you’re in luck. Future ads may feature Osama bin Laden. Seriously. I wish I was making this up.

There comes a time in all political discourse that someone must say “enough is enough” and this simply “goes too far.” The Heartland Institute should be ashamed of this type of extremist gamesmanship, which as the NRDC Action Fund previously blogged, “No one actually wins this kind of game. Instead, we end up with one big loser: the American people.”

What the American people want and need is a real dialog about how we can work together to invest in clean energy, while protecting our precious resources and the health of our kids. It’s time we all drew a line in the sand and told the likes of the Heartland Institute to stop these types of outlandish ads. 







SCOTUS arguments recap - Day two

After initial arguments yesterday, the Supreme Court today slogged headlong into the meat of the arguments for and against the Affordable Care Act mandate (transcript and full audio via NPR).

Nothing new here but specific presentation, and maybe the political optics outside the court.  Politico has a recap of the 7 key points, including the "Brocolli Argument":

SCALIA: “Could you define the market — everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food, therefore, everybody is in the market; therefore, you can make people buy broccoli.”

VERRILLI: “No, that's quite different. That's quite different. The food market, while it shares that trait that everybody's in it, it is not a market in which your participation is often unpredictable and often involuntary. It is not a market in which you often don't know before you go in what you need, and it is not a market in which, if you go in and — and seek to obtain a product or service, you will get it even if you can't pay for it.”

Challengers are already cheering the demise of the mandate, and SCOTUSblog's Lyle Denniston confirms this is going to be Justice Kennedy's case to call.  But where Kennedy is may be up in the air (emphasis mine):

“So,” Breyer said, “I thought the issue here is not whether it’s a violation of some basic right or something to make people buy things they don’t want, bujt simply whether those decisons of that groujp of 40 milliion people substantially affect the interstate commerce that has been set up in part” through a variety of government-sponsored health care delivery systems.  That, Breyer told Carvin, ”the part of your argument I’m not hearing.”

Carvin, of course, disputed the premise, saying that Congress in adopting the mandate as a method to leverage health care coverage for all of the uninsured across the nation.  Kennedy interrupted to that that he agreed “that’s what’s happening here.”  But then he went on, and suggested that he had seen what Breyer had been talking about.   “I think it is true that, if most questions in life are matters of degree,” it could be that in the markets for health insurance and for the health care for which insurance was the method of payment “the young person who is uninsured is uniquely proximately very close to affecting the rates of insurance and the costs of providing medical care in a way that is not true in other industries.  That’s my concern in the case.”

More interesting, was yesterday a setup? As David Dayden has pointed out: yesterday every Justice agreeing a mandate was not a tax under Anti-Injunction, today Obama's SG arguing it's just like a tax to Congress.

And the politics around of it all.  Roll Call has 5 races where health care will matter either way, and why Democrats will make this about RyanCare. Senate Republicans are squealing tires in reverse, hoping everyone forgets "Replace" is a word. For Obama, it could be win-win.  Mandate struck down, Republicans lose a major rallying point for the general election, Democrats may gain one (Activist judges!).  Robert Reich sees Obama positioned well for Medicare for All if the Affordable Care Act unravels.  And somewhere, Lil' Ricky and the Newt are firing up the attack ads on Romney.

Tomorrow's arguments: Mandate "what-ifs" and the Medicaid expansion


Romney's Sunshine State "Lead"

Can't find an average putting Romney at less than +6% over Gingrich, some have him at +12% so it looks like this one is down to how big/little the lead.  Big lead, Romney might have leverage to at least get the headlines about him more than his oppenents with nothing to lose, at least ask nicely for them to step aside.  Smaller lead, we still have a game here at least as far as headline chasers are concerned.  Either way Gingrich and Santorum have little reason not to drag this out, but their credibility in doing so may evaporate tonight.  What's amazing is how much it's costing "Mr. Most Electable" (?) and SuperPAC friends, how much energy the campaign is having to expend just to stay ahead of Newt Gingrich.  NewtGingrich.  Romney's not connecting. 

While you're waiting for polls to close:

Gallup sizes up 6 months polling and finds swing state registered voters evenly split in an Obama/Romney matchup.

Also: Ron Paul.

FiveThirtyEight: Romney still vulnerable.

Historic partisan love/hate for Obama.

Romney the chameleon may be what's holding back the Newt.  He's the closest candidate GOP voters have to "generic Republican" in a suit and tie.

Finally, not a poll, just cool: Physicists publish The Theory of F#@!ing Everything.

Gingrich and Romney Offer the Same Tired Energy Policies

Newt Gingrich trounced Mitt Romney in South Carolina, ensuring that the race for the GOP nomination will likely continue for weeks to come. The Republican establishment may have settled on Romney, but voters keep throwing their support behind the anti-Romney -- whichever candidate of the moment sounds as different from the supposedly “moderate” Massachusetts governor as possible.

Right now, Gingrich is the one generating all the passion. But if one goes by their campaign statements, Gingrich differs from Romney more in style (and personal life) than in substance. Gingrich has more spit and fire in him, but he and Romney share many views, including their similarly outdated approach to energy development.

We’ve heard the same tired ideas during the primaries, and we will hear them again in the Republican response to the State of the Union Address on Tuesday night: candidates offer plenty of attacks on Obama, but no new vision for America’s energy future.

Gingrich may be the man who wrote the book, Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less: A Handbook for Solving Our Energy Crisis, but Romney is just as eager to rely on the same fossil fuels we’ve been using for the past 100 years. Romney’s energy blueprint, included in his “Believe in America” economic plan, calls for flinging open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to energy companies, sinking wells into the deepwater, and expanding fracking in the Marcellus Shale, despite a long list of environmental and public health concerns (not to mention small earthquakes).

Neither Romney nor Gingrich has a fresh plan for an energy future built on innovation and cutting-edge technology. Neither one talks about how better-performing cars are putting 150,000 Americans to work right now and helping slash our oil addiction at the same time. Neither one trumpets the fact that American engineers are already making breakthroughs in the next generation of solar technology. And neither one of them urges America to lead what has been estimated as the $243 billion global clean energy market.

Instead, both Romney and Gingrich seem to view renewable technologies as a wasteful distraction. This despite the fact that the Department of Defense—the nation’s largest consumer of energy—has pledged to get 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025 because of national security concerns.

The candidates like to demagogue about energy independence, but they have no plan to achieve it besides doing more of the same—an approach that hasn’t worked so far. We saw it in Gingrich’s acceptance speech in South Carolina. “I want America to become so energy independent that no American president ever again bows to a Saudi king.” That is a fine aspiration, but instead of encouraging Detroit to build more fuel-efficient engines or farmers to grow sustainable biofuels, he called for expanding offshore drilling and approving the Keystone XL pipeline.

When your home has 1.6 percent of the globe’s proven oil reserves and you consume 26 percent of the world’s supply, there is a limit to how much you can influence supply. That's not politics; it's geology.

And building a pipeline from a friendly ally won’t help much when the pipeline operators routinely say in the Canadian press that a primary goal of Keystone XL is to access Asian markets. The same operators have refused in Congressional testimony to commit to selling the majority of their oil to the United States. Instead, they are rerouting it out of the Midwest and into the “Foreign Trade Zone” in Port Arthur, Texas, where companies get incentives to export from of the United States.

Approving a pipeline to help dirty tar sands oil get to Asia is not a long-term plan for America’s energy system. Opening more ocean waters to drilling won’t position us to lead the next generation of energy breakthroughs. But that doesn’t stop Gingrich and Romney from singing the same old song again and again.

President Obama recognizes that America’s energy leadership will be built on clean technologies. Last week he kicked off his presidential campaign advertising with an ad devoted to the economic power of clean energy. I expect he will highlight it again in the State of the Union.

Here is how I expect the GOP candidates to respond: They will criticize Obama’s clean energy programs and sprinkle in fossil fuel buzzwords like Keystone and drilling. But their complaints can’t cover the fact that they have no fresh ideas, no innovation, and no groundbreaking vision for America’s energy future.


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