Archive for May, 2012
Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has weighed in on the monumental 2010 Supreme Court ruling known as Citizens United. Justice Stevens originally joined the minority in dissent. He still doesn’t approve.
It is unusual for retired Supreme Court Justices to offer opinions on the work of their former colleagues. But Justice Stevens does not appear to be shy. He even offered some thoughts on what the future might hold.
The ruling allows corporations, unions, political action committees, and wealthy individuals to spend unlimited amounts of money to support or oppose candidates. It overturned a century of previously-settled law regarding campaign finance.
Fast-forward two years and the effects of that ruling are impossible to miss: according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, spending by Super PACs in the current election cycle hit a whopping $100 million earlier this month—with six months to go until Election Day. “A single super PAC, the pro-Mitt Romney Restore Our Future, has already spent more—$44.5 million—than all outside groups combined had spent by this point in 2008,” the group reports.
Sometime’s it’s tough for a Presidential candidate to figure out how closely to associate with others.
Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin accused President Obama of “pal[ling] around with terrorists” because he had been on the board of directors for the Woods Fund for a couple of years that overlapped with former Weather Underground member (and current education professor) Bill Ayers’s term, because Ayers had donated $200 to Obama’s state senate reëlection campaign in 2001, and because one of Obama’s 2001 neighborhood campaign events was held at Ayers’s home. But, as far as anyone can tell (and many tried hard to find evidence to the contrary) they never shared a stage together, and Obama never claimed any affiliation with Ayers.
On the other hand, Mitt Romney has spent a good amount of time on stages with Donald Trump. A few days ago, Trump had a fundraiser in Las Vegas for Mitt Romney. On April 17, wife Ann Romney’s birthday, he hosted another Mitt Romney fundraiser at his Trump Tower home in New York. And Romney has publicly been welcoming the support.
It was touted as the New New Thing. The much-anticipated initial public offering of Facebook (ticker: FB) on NASDAQ was supposed to be the revival of the stock market, the revival of the “publicly held” company (even though CEO Mark Zuckerberg holds 59 percent of the company’s stock, and 100 percent of voting shares), the revival of capitalism for a New Era.
It was evident from the opening bell — or, rather, the lack of an opening bell — that something was wrong. Scheduled for 11 AM (EDT), the IPO opening was inexplicably delayed a half-hour. The shares then began trading briskly on record volume, reaching an early high of $45 a share. From there, it was all downside.
Then the stock opened, and instead of soaring from the opening price of $38 up to $60 or more, as some analysts had predicted, an apparent buy order by underwriter Morgan Stanley at exactly $38 supported the price for the last hour of May 18 trading.
The details of the May 18 débâcle are clear from the Guardian’s liveblog of the IPO.
Absent underwriter support, Monday morning, May 21, the stock tanked. The finger-pointing and recriminations, which had reached a fever pitch over the weekend, started to get really serious.
What happened? (more…)
I love this country. I spent my life in the private sector, not in government. I only spent four years as a governor. I didn’t inhale.
—Mitt Romney, September 22nd, 2011
If there was a program or agency or department that needed cutting, I did it… That skill I learned in the private sector, and practiced for four years in Massachusetts, where by the way I served in government, but I didn’t inhale. I’m still a business guy.
Mitt Romney has repeatedly used this line. He’s still using it.
On this Memorial Day, it needs to be said. This is one of the most unpatriotic things we have ever heard from the mouth of a man who wants to be America’s Commander-in-Chief.
Make no mistake. Mitt Romney is comparing being a public servant to being a user of illegal drugs. It’s a slap in the face to all dedicated government workers. On this Memorial Day, it needs to be said. Mitt Romney’s laugh line is a direct insult to our men and women in uniform. (more…)
I ran across two stories this week involving race in this country, and both made me think. So I thought I’d share them with you, in the hopes that you’d have some stimulating thoughts as well.
First is what has happened to the opinions of African-Americans in the United States with respect to same-sex marriage. A recent Public Policy Polling poll shows that support for same-sex marriage in Maryland has increased by 16 points in two months, where now a majority support it. What happened during that time? President Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage, and then the NAACP announced their support as well.
This led me to ponder a few things. Why did it take Obama’s statement to change their minds? Why did it have such a dramatic effect on the African-American community and no others? If nothing else, this strongly suggests that, not only did Obama’s statement not hurt him with that demographic, the tail wagged the dog here. How far could the President take that power?
The other race story is how badly Obama did in the West Virginia and Arkansas primary elections. Much hay was made about the number of West Virginia votes received by Keith Judd, a felon serving time in Texas. In terms of counties carried, Obama did worse in Arkansas, where attorney John Wolfe, Jr., won about half of the square miles of the state. Could this have to do with the President’s race?
Frequent readers may recall that I have often stated that, with respect to criticism of the President, I think the cries of racism are overblown. Nonetheless, we can draw upon some exit polling from four years ago. In 2008 in West Virginia, 21 percent of Caucasians — more than one in five — said that the race of the candidate was an important consideration. Among that group, only nine percent voted for Obama. Similarly, in Kentucky, 18 percent of Caucasians said that the race was important, and again nine percent of them voted for Obama.
This didn’t carry into the deep South — it was not anywhere near as much an effect in Mississippi, Alabama, or Georgia…and, obviously, Arkansas had too much of a home-state effect to see any other effect in its 2008 results — it was concentrated in the Appalachian Mountains, which resulted it a minor reflection in Indiana and Ohio.
It does indicate, then, that racism isn’t a nonissue. It’s less dominant than it once was — Obama’s election is evidence for this — but clearly it’s not gone.
- Arkansas Protest Votes Against Obama Are Going to an Occupy Supporter (theatlanticwire.com)
- Obama almost loses Democratic primaries (EndtheLie.com)
- Obama loses 42 percent of Kentucky, Arkansas primary vote. Should he worry? (csmonitor.com)
- President Obama Has A Tough Night In Arkansas Primary Against Unknown Challenger John Wolfe (theamericanteaman.com)
- Where Obama-phobia is rampant (salon.com)
- A Familiar Stripe of Anti-Obama Discontent Runs Through the South (theatlanticwire.com)
- The Washington Post: What’s the matter with Ky. and Ark.? Racism, natch (twitchy.com)
Write down this date. The human adventure off the Earth has begun in earnest.
In a triumph of free enterprise, a private corporation has successfully sent a supply ship to the International Space Station.
We knew this day would come. In his 1968 motion picture, 2001: A Space Odyssey, visionary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick showed us a Pan-Am flight to an orbital space station. For those too young to remember, back in the 1960s, Pan American Airways was a major commercial air line. Pan-Am ceased operations in 1991. But before that, following the release of Kubrick’s movie, they had been accepting reservations for flights to the Moon.
The reality so far is much less grand, but the longest journeys begin with a single step. Since 2009, newly-appointed NASA director Charles F. Bolden Jr. has advocated encouraging commercial enterprise to replace the canceled U.S. space shuttle program. Without a shuttle, America and the world are dependent upon Russian Soyuz spacecraft to carry personnel to the space station, and uncrewed Progress rockets for supplies. Russia had an exclusive lock on flights to ISS. No more. On May 25, 2012, at 12:02 p.m. Eastern Time, a private spacecraft funded by PayPal billionaire Elon Musk docked with the International Space Station, carrying a shipment of supplies. The new Dragon spaceship from SpaceX can now supplement Progress supply flights, and, within three or four years, is expected to carry up to seven crewmembers at a time.
This is not the first commercial spaceflight. On October 4, 2004, the 47th anniversary of the first Sputnik launch, the Ansari X Prize was won by a privately-designed and constructed manned spaceship. The X Prize offered ten million dollars to the first non-governmental organization that could send a manned reuseable craft to the edge of space, defined as an altitude of 100 kilometers or 60 miles — and then do it again, within the space of a few days. The winning craft, SpaceShipOne, was designed by legendary aircraft developer Burt Rutan, and funded by eccentric billionaire Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group. Branson and Rutan have gone on to create Virgin Galactic, a company that will soon be providing joyrides into space for a mere $100,000 or so per ticket.
We are about to step off the shores of our little world into an enormous ocean. Are we ready for it? (more…)