When Politics Becomes the Game

The NRDC Action Fund just released a book called Reckless about the House Republican majority that cast more than 200 votes against environmental safeguards last year. We aren’t the only ones dismayed by the rise in GOP extremism. Republican leaders are too.

This week, two esteemed conservative thinkers published a must-read op-ed in the Washington Post entitled, “Let’s Just Say It: The Republicans Are the Problem.” Thomas Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote:

“The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

Mann and Ornstein are no lightweight centrists; they are the Republicans of the Republicans. If they see fault in their party’s lurch to the far right, then you know things have gotten out of hand.  

Their piece made me realize just how many lawmakers seem to have forgotten why they serve. This is true of Republicans and Democrats alike, but the Republicans have cast themselves as the Party of No and made the defeat of the other side their primary goal. No one actually wins this kind of game. Instead, we end up with one big loser: the American people.

Citizens send lawmakers to Washington to govern, not to play chicken. GOP’s obstructionism may score points with their base, but it prevents Members from actually doing the work of government and administering the public’s shared resources including roads, schools, clean air and water.

Most of the public servants I know—from Hill staffers to PTA presidents—pursue their line of work because they want to make things better. Politicians who see victory in paralysis seem to have lost sight of that goal. They have become like the young boy who dreams of playing in the NBA, but gets so focused on the machinations of what it takes to make it that he loses his love of the game. I get it. Institutions like Congress can grind people down. But that’s why we need leaders to stand up and offer inspiration—not nay saying.

The proliferation of negative ads is a symptom of this larger trend. Every political operative will tell you: campaigns use negative messages because they work. They lodge in people’s minds and deliver votes. But here is what’s different this year: PAC money. A new post by Paul Blumenthal includes some stunning statistics:

“While spending in support of one candidate nearly doubled from $19.14 million in 2008 to $36.59 million in 2012, spending against other candidates by independent groups exploded by 680 percent, from only $6.97 million in 2008 to $47.28 million in 2012.”

PACs are fueling the antagonism of an already polarized election cycle. When my two children are fighting, I don’t step in and raise the heat by saying: “Son, don’t you remember how your sister stole your ball? Or “Honey, he hit you first, didn’t he?” The PACs are the equivalent of a mother reminding her children why they hate each. If you stand in the way, you will never find resolution.

Then again, some companies behind the PACs don’t want resolution. Bloomberg News recently reported that 81 percent of anti-Obama ads focus on energy. Americans for Prosperity—a group supported by oil companies—spent more $16.7 million between January and March on negative ads attacking Obama’s energy policies.

Oil companies benefit from a paralyzed political landscape. If Congress can’t pass any laws, then companies don’t have to clean up their pollution, invest in low-carbon technologies, or give up their generous tax breaks. The American people, however, are stuck with the dirty air, the extreme weather events, and the wind turbine factories moving to China.

Candidates who make clean energy a central part of their platform can correct that imbalance. Clean energy is about job creation, competitive advantage, clean air, health families, and keeping our troops out of harm’s way. It’s about building things, not destroying them.

That’s what makes it a powerful antidote to current political antagonism. Lawmakers may debate the best way to promote clean energy or confront climate change, but the fact remains that expanding the clean economy will benefit America. Isn’t that why lawmakers serve in the first place?

 

 

 

When Politics Becomes the Game

The NRDC Action Fund just released a book called Reckless about the House Republican majority that cast more than 200 votes against environmental safeguards last year. We aren’t the only ones dismayed by the rise in GOP extremism. Republican leaders are too.

This week, two esteemed conservative thinkers published a must-read op-ed in the Washington Post entitled, “Let’s Just Say It: The Republicans Are the Problem.” Thomas Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote:

“The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

Mann and Ornstein are no lightweight centrists; they are the Republicans of the Republicans. If they see fault in their party’s lurch to the far right, then you know things have gotten out of hand.  

Their piece made me realize just how many lawmakers seem to have forgotten why they serve. This is true of Republicans and Democrats alike, but the Republicans have cast themselves as the Party of No and made the defeat of the other side their primary goal. No one actually wins this kind of game. Instead, we end up with one big loser: the American people.

Citizens send lawmakers to Washington to govern, not to play chicken. GOP’s obstructionism may score points with their base, but it prevents Members from actually doing the work of government and administering the public’s shared resources including roads, schools, clean air and water.

Most of the public servants I know—from Hill staffers to PTA presidents—pursue their line of work because they want to make things better. Politicians who see victory in paralysis seem to have lost sight of that goal. They have become like the young boy who dreams of playing in the NBA, but gets so focused on the machinations of what it takes to make it that he loses his love of the game. I get it. Institutions like Congress can grind people down. But that’s why we need leaders to stand up and offer inspiration—not nay saying.

The proliferation of negative ads is a symptom of this larger trend. Every political operative will tell you: campaigns use negative messages because they work. They lodge in people’s minds and deliver votes. But here is what’s different this year: PAC money. A new post by Paul Blumenthal includes some stunning statistics:

“While spending in support of one candidate nearly doubled from $19.14 million in 2008 to $36.59 million in 2012, spending against other candidates by independent groups exploded by 680 percent, from only $6.97 million in 2008 to $47.28 million in 2012.”

PACs are fueling the antagonism of an already polarized election cycle. When my two children are fighting, I don’t step in and raise the heat by saying: “Son, don’t you remember how your sister stole your ball? Or “Honey, he hit you first, didn’t he?” The PACs are the equivalent of a mother reminding her children why they hate each. If you stand in the way, you will never find resolution.

Then again, some companies behind the PACs don’t want resolution. Bloomberg News recently reported that 81 percent of anti-Obama ads focus on energy. Americans for Prosperity—a group supported by oil companies—spent more $16.7 million between January and March on negative ads attacking Obama’s energy policies.

Oil companies benefit from a paralyzed political landscape. If Congress can’t pass any laws, then companies don’t have to clean up their pollution, invest in low-carbon technologies, or give up their generous tax breaks. The American people, however, are stuck with the dirty air, the extreme weather events, and the wind turbine factories moving to China.

Candidates who make clean energy a central part of their platform can correct that imbalance. Clean energy is about job creation, competitive advantage, clean air, health families, and keeping our troops out of harm’s way. It’s about building things, not destroying them.

That’s what makes it a powerful antidote to current political antagonism. Lawmakers may debate the best way to promote clean energy or confront climate change, but the fact remains that expanding the clean economy will benefit America. Isn’t that why lawmakers serve in the first place?

 

 

 

Bailout Binging Bainster TV Ad

 

We at AmericanLP have created a new ad to spotlight Mitt Romney's hypocrisy on the issue of bailouts. By now, most observers have learned that Mitt Romney was against a bailout for Detroit. But what even many political insiders don't realize is that Mitt Romney has been the beneficiary of a Federal bailout of sorts. As head of Bain and Co in the early 90s (he had been brought back from Bain Capital to sort out the mess at the mother company), Romney was in charge of keeping Bain from imploding under a huge mountain of debt. In addition to firing lots of people (naturally), Romney also squeezed suppliers and other creditors. What's more, Bain had a $38 million loan from the Bank of New England, and that the Bank of New England had its own problems and had been taken over by the FDIC.

Romney shrewdly re-negotiated the Bain loan from $38 million to $28 million. So what does that mean, exactly? Well, since the FDIC is an arm of the Federal government, that means, essentially, that the FDIC (ahem, taxpayers) ate the difference. In other words, Romney conned the government into giving him and his cronies a $10 million bailout.

Yes, this was legal for Romney to do—other business people do it all the time. But it was a bailout to the tune of $10 million, Romney did personally benefit, and it's a bit rich for Romney to be so sanctimonious about other people getting bailouts. Critics of our ad would suggest that it is unfair to imply that Romney benefited personally from the $10, million write-offs. While the money went to Bain and Co, Romney actually benefited to a much greater degree than $10 million. If Bain and Co had not gotten the bailout, it would have likely imploded. If Bain and Co had imploded, it would have likely tainted Bain Capital to such a degree that it would have been destroyed. If Bain Capital had been dismantled, Romney would have never been able to make his quarter billion that has allowed him the life of the perpetual candidate. Yes, this stuff is complicated—but that's why rich finance guys like Romney are able to play the system to their advantage.

We start the ad with images of Ronald Reagan talking about the Chicago welfare queen in a Cadillac. This was a story Reagan told over and over again in the 1976 and 1980 campaigns. Even though Reagan never specified it was a black woman, it was widely assumed by most observers across the spectrum that Reagan was in fact talking about a black woman from Chicago with 80 different fake names. (It turns out that Reagan didn't have his facts straight on this—surprise, surprise)

By showing Reagan at the beginning of the ad, we are trying to evoke the warm feelings conservative Republicans have toward Reagan and his beliefs about "welfare queens." That is why we are literally showing what appears to be a woman driving a pink Cadillac in an inner city. We then show that in fact the "woman" is none other than Mitt Romney in drag. Romney should actually be seen as a modern day welfare queen who ripped off the government for more than any "welfare queen" from the inner city could ever imagine.
By portraying Romney this way, we are attempting to turn ugly racist beliefs on their head and make people realize that the biggest freeloaders on the government system are actually people who look like Mitt Romney.

At the end of the ad, we show Mitt Romney's vacation mansion worth $10 million. We aren't suggesting that Romney criminally stole tax dollars to buy his house illegally. But money is fungible, so any money that benefits Romney in one account can be used to purchase luxuries from any other account.

The point is that Romney and his colleagues at Bain were already wealthy by the early 1990s when the difficulties with the loan arose. Because, as we know, "corporations are people," Romney and his cronies weren't personally liable for the full $38 million. Instead, just the corporate entity of Bain and Company was liable. But there was nothing stopping Romney or his wealthy colleagues at Bain from paying back the full $10 million out of their own pocket at the time. For that matter, Romney and his colleagues could have paid the Government back in later years, after they'd all become super, super rich.

The bottom line is Romney got the best deal he could, just because he could. And yet he belongs to a political party that says people who do that are evil parasites for not being "rugged individuals" and succeeding on their own merits.

Finally, our goal here is to make conservatives sickened by the hypocrisy of Romney taking bailouts and for moderates and independents to be disgusted by Romney for making himself richer at the expense of average taxpayers. This bailout for Romney is a perfect window into why Romney should be seen as an utterly detestable and phony candidate regardless of one's ideological position. Please take a look at the ad below.

http://youtu.be/-L8oCg_pM2M

 

Democratic Super PAC Leader Gives Assessment on Role of Super PACS in 2012

Posted by AmericanLP in Press Release, Press Room

TJ Walker, founder of AmericanLP, a Democratic Super PAC, gave his assessment on the role his organization and other Democratic Super PACs have played in the 2012 campaign:

“We couldn’t be happier! Our goal all along has been to tarnish the Republican brand and to diminish the chances of the GOP’s only candidate who isn’t completely insane—Mitt Romney. Thus far, we have produced and run 5 negative ads targeted against Mitt Romney and his phony, plastic, non-conservative views. And we like to think that we have played at least a small role in helping Republican voters in the first three states commit mass political suicide by voting for Rick Santorum in Iowa and now Newt Gingrich in South Carolina. At this point, we couldn’t be happier if the Republicans nominated Rod Blagojevich as their Presidential standard bearer. The general perception among GOP insiders is that their party is in a state of chaos and that as weak as they might perceive Obama to be; you cannot beat an incumbent President with another candidate who is seen as widely detestable by majority of his own party. In other words, it is PANIC time at the GOP.”

 

 

Mitt Romney Ad Poll

 

Can You Help Pick the Best Attack Ad Against Mitt Romney?
While none of us Progressive Democrats applaud the Citizens United case unleashing Super PACs, it is a fact of life. So we can either play by the rules as they are at this moment, or we can sit still like little lambs waiting to be slaughtered.
So I’ve started a new Democratic Super PAC devoted to helping Obama and all Democrats have a better chance of wining this year. We’ve created three new ads and I’d like your help in deciding which one to put on the air on New Hampshire TV stations this week.
The Republicans might huddle with Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers in secret back rooms to decide strategy, but I am trying to create a participatory, crowd-sourced PAC that can tap the best of pro-democratic minds.
First, here are our assumptions:
1.    Romney is the greatest threat to Obama.
2.    Romney is still the likeliest GOP nominee.
3.    If we can attack Romney causing him to fail at getting the GOP nomination, that would be a huge benefit for Obama because all of the other GOP candidates would be weaker in a general election.
4.    If we attack Romney now, and he still wins the GOP nomination, we can still help Obama if we begin to lay the ground work for general election voters holding negative views toward Romney.
5.    Romney has already been attacked for being a flip-flopper, so we can’t just do the same old thing.
6.    While attacking Romney for being a rich guy who looks out for the top 1% may help in the general election, that message might actually help Romney in a GOP primary.
7.    Based on reading a variety of polling data and anecdotal conversations with many conservatives and GOP strategists, the number one negative on Romney is that he is inauthentic and, in a word, “plastic.”
8.    We have decided to create a series of negative ads that attempt to brand Romney as literally “plastic” through the metaphor of dolls.
We initially crowd-sourced the idea at Daily Kos a week ago and the community suggested a couple of ideas beyond our initial idea of “GI Joe.” These ideas included “Ken Doll” and “Stretch Armstrong.”
So we’ve put together 3 ads (below) and we’d like you to vote on which one you think would be most effective with Republican voters as well as general election voters. Whatever ad gets the most support, we are committed to putting on the air in New Hampshire this week.
While the ads use humor and can appear childish, please realize that we are deadly serious. We are trying to have an impact on public opinion toward Mitt Romney and we are trying to connect at both an intellectual and emotional level. So please give us feedback on which ad you prefer and feel free to give script or production suggestions too. But please, spare us any tedious diatribes on how our approach isn’t intellectual or fact-based enough for your tastes.
Also, please feel free to put your money where your mouth is. If you like an ad and want to see it get more air time, Please click here and donate, even if it’s $3. www.americanlp.org/donate
Here are the three ads.

 

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5A162A2F0B5D6B3C

 

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