Chris Christie

Pity The Poor Multi-Millionaires And Their Waning Political Influence

MILLIONAIRE DONORS DONT COUNT ANYMORE

The Huffington Post

It probably will come as no surprise to any of you to hear the news that most of you are not making it in America. And one way in which the semi-permanent nature of our not-making-it status has deftly revealed itself is the clear alteration to our political system: It no longer really resembles a citizen-driven democracy, but rather a weird oligarchy in which the would-be leaders of the free world have to schlep around, kissing the rings of dotty billionaires, in the hopes that their favor will propel them forward in their political careers.

Of course, for most Americans, clawing their way down the eroding path of middle-class respectability, there isn’t a whole lot of time to pause and stage an aria of self-pitying lamentation. But there is one class of people that apparently do have the luxury of having the time to whine: the not-quite super-rich.

Yes, apparently the political fortunes of the merely astonishingly affluent have taken a nose dive of late, drawing the bottom nine-tenths of the top 1 percent into Thomas Piketty’s “r > g” argybargy along with the rest of us. That is, at least from their perspective. They are deeply sad about their diminished political influence, and they are granting interviews to the commoners. Take for example, Terry Neese, a one-time pretty-big-wheel down on the Bush family Ranger ranch, who now tells The Washington Post that she’s feeling as if her wealth, no longer able to quite stagger the imagination, doesn’t count for much anymore:

At this point in the 2012 presidential race, Terry Neese was in hot demand.

“Gosh, I was hearing from everyone and meeting with everyone,” said Neese, an Oklahoma City entrepreneur and former “Ranger” for President George W. Bush who raised more than $1 million for his reelection.

This year, no potential White House contender has called — not even Bush’s brother, Jeb. As of early Wednesday, the only contacts she had received were e-mails from staffers for two other likely candidates; both went to her spam folder.

Yes, the indignity of downmarket candidates reaching out through staffers, it is not to be endured. Neese, like many former in-demand toffs, has now become the poor, soot-stained matchgirl, face pressed to the window, looking on as the party to which she was once an invitee now gaily spins without her. And that is not hyperbole. As The Washington Post’s Matea Gold and Tom Hamburger explain, at the recent RNC retreat in Boca Raton, would-be presidential candidates passed on flattering the merely very wealthy gathered in attendance, making for the event’s version of the VIP room instead:

A number of White House contenders in attendance — including former Texas governor Rick Perry and Govs. Scott Walker (Wis.), Chris Christie (N.J.) and Bobby Jindal (La.) — devoted much of their time to private meetings with high rollers, according to people familiar with their schedules. Bush came to Boca Raton after an afternoon super-PAC fundraiser in Miami.

Then on Sunday, the governors made a pilgrimage to Palm Beach for a private Republican Governors Association fundraiser hosted by billionaire industrialist David Koch at his 30,000-square-foot beachfront mansion.

Welcome to class envy, you guys! Don’t say you weren’t warned. As Annie Lowrey noted in The New York Times last September, recent studies had indicated that while the “total income of the top 1 percent surged nearly 20 percent” in 2012 (as compared to the 1 percent growth experienced by the bottom 99 percent), the incomes of “the very richest, the 0.01 percent, shot up more than 32 percent.” And over at Demos,Joseph Hines elaborated further:

That’s just 16,000 Americans that make over ten million dollars a year. And their dominance is strengthening: the share of income controlled by that tiny group of people jumped over a percentage point from 3.7 percent in 2011 to 4.8 percent in 2012. This is the donor class, the same group of people that donate to political campaigns and determine the structure of the market they have so clearly mastered.

As this new, super-exclusive donor class deepens their connection to the policy-making apparatus, their capacity to consolidate their wealth and influence will no doubt continue, in a pattern of rent-seeking and favor-trading designed to ensure high returns on their capital without having to take any of those knotty “risks” that we used to consider a vital ingredient to productive capitalism.

And as this progresses, more and more of the new over/underclass will start to feel like the heroine of this Washington Post story: “Most of the people I talk to are kind of rolling their eyes and saying, ‘You know, we just don’t count anymore,’” says the once influential Neese.

In other news, a number of people in the East Village of Manhattan, paying rents that are prohibitively high for working-class New Yorkers, had their homes explode yesterday.

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10 things you need to know today: February 3, 2015

Kayana Szymczak/Getty Images

The Week

1.Second snowstorm hits already snow-covered Northeast
Boston authorities postponed a victory celebration for the New England Patriots after their Super Bowl victory, moving it from Tuesday to Wednesday due to a record breaking winter storm. The second blizzard to hit the Northeast in a week dumped another foot of snow on Boston, which was blanketed with two feet of snow last week, the most snow ever to fall on the city in seven days. The storm has been linked to at least 10 deaths, and forced the cancellation of 2,900 flights in Chicago, Newark, Boston, and New York.

Source: Reuters

2.Paul and Christie criticized for vaccine remarks
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, both potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates, faced criticism from medical experts on Monday after suggesting some child vaccinations should be made voluntary. Paul said some vaccines have caused “profound mental disorders.” Christie said parents need “some measure of choice” although, with a U.S. measles outbreak surpassing 100 cases, a spokesman said Christie believes “there is no question kids should be vaccinated” for measles. CDC director Tom Frieden said not vaccinating endangers other children.

Source: Fox News, The Washington Post

3.Obama sets new rules on NSA data mining
The Obama administration on Tuesday will announce new rules about how U.S. intelligence agencies manage the data they collect. The National Security Agency and other spy agencies will have to delete private information they collect about Americans that has no intelligence value, and do the same for foreigners after five years, The New York Timesreports. Obama will also begin a regular, formal White House assessment of NSA spying on foreign leaders.

Source: The New York Times

4.Obama releases his proposed $4 trillion budget
President Obama on Monday unveiled the specifics of a $4 trillion proposed budget that would roll back blanket spending cuts, raise taxes on wealthy Americans, and extend tax benefits to the middle class. “These proposals will put more money in middle-class pockets, raise wages, and bring more high-paying jobs to America,” Obama said in a statement. The budget covers the 2016 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. The blueprint is largely a symbolic statement of the president’s priorities, as Congress will make significant changes to it over the coming months.

Source: The Associated Press

5.Google reportedly is developing an Uber rival
Google invested $258 million in Uber in August 2013, and put more money in the next year, but now the internet search giant reportedly is preparing to compete with Uber by starting its own ride-hailing service, possibly linked to its driverless car project. A person close to Uber’s board said David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer and an Uber board member, informed fellow Uber board members of the possibility. Uber leaders reportedly have seen a prototype app being used by Google employees.

Source: Bloomberg

6.Cuba publishes first photos of Fidel Castro since August
Cuba on Monday released the first photos of former president Fidel Castro seen since August. With Cuba’s communist government and the Obama administration attempting to renew diplomatic relations cut off in the Cold War, rumors have surfaced that Castro, 88, was dead or near death. Last week, Cuba released a letter attributed to Castro in which he said he didn’t trust the U.S. but advocated a “peaceful resolution to conflicts.” The photos, published in the official Granma newspaper, showed Castro in a meeting with a youth leader.

Source: The Washington Post

7.Bus firebombing kills seven in Bangladesh
Attackers hit a packed bus with gasoline-bombs in Bangladesh on Tuesday, killing at least seven people and injuring 16 others. The local police chief blamed the bombing on opposition activists, but they denied responsibility. At least 53 people have died in political violence, mostly vehicle firebombings, since the opposition launched a nationwide transportation strike in early January in a bid to force Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to resign.

Source: The Associated Press

8.Suge Knight charged with murder
Former rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight was charged with murder and attempted murder on Monday for allegedly running over two men with his truck, killing one and injuring the other. His $2.2 million bail was revoked because authorities considered him a possible flight risk. Police said Knight argued with the men on the set of Straight Outta Compton, a film about the group N.W.A., and later ran them over. Knight’s lawyer said he accidentally ran over the victims while trying to get away from two men trying to attack him.

Source: Los Angeles Times

9. Charles Manson’s marriage license expires with no wedding
Eighty-year-old mass murderer Charles Manson’s marriage license is set to expire on Thursday without a wedding. Manson and his fiancee, 26-year-old Afton Elaine Burton, missed their last chance to marry over the weekend — weddings are not performed on weekdays at the California prison where Manson is incarcerated. Burton, who uses the nickname Star, intends to get another 90-day license and proceed with the wedding plan, according to a source in contact with her.

Source: The Associated Press

10.Revenge-porn site creator convicted of extortion
A California court on Monday convicted revenge-porn site founder Kevin Bollaert, 28, on identity theft and extortion charges. He faces up to 20 years in prison. Bollaert set up one website, YouGotPosted.com, where women’s former husbands and boyfriends posted nude photos of them, and he established another website, ChangeMyReputation.com, where victims could pay up to $350 to get the photos taken down. “This is essentially 21st century blackmail,” Deputy Attorney General Tawnya Austin told jurors last week.

Source: NBC 7 San Diego, The Washington Post

Megyn Kelly Speaks Up For Mandatory Vaccination On Fox: ‘Some Things Do Require Big Brother’

kelly

Credit: AP

It looks like Fox News can tell the truth at times…

Think Progress

A debate on vaccines has infected the nascent 2016 Republican presidential primary. Rand Paul, for example, said that the right of parents to refuse vaccines is “an issue of freedom.” To bolster his point, he claimed that vaccines can give children “profound mental disorders,” and idea that is completely unsupported by medical literature.

Similarly, Chris Christie framed the vaccination issue as a matter of “parental choice.” (Faced with mounting criticism, Christie later backtracked partially, saying only some vaccines should be optional.)

Monday night on Fox News, Megyn Kelly provided the antidote. Appearing on The O’Reilly Factor, Kelly spoke out forcefully for mandatory vaccines. (O’Reilly agreed.) Speaking directly into the camera, Kelly said, “I want to say on the record, I have three children under the age of six. I vaccinated all of them. On time. As the doctor prescribed. Nothing was delayed.” She noted that the science showing vaccinations are safe and beneficial for children is “very certain today.”

Kelly predicted the issue would continue to play a role in the Republican presidential primary because it had become about “Big Brother.” “On the other hand, some things do require some involvement of Big Brother,” Kelly said.

Kelly may want to have a conversation with her colleague, Sean Hannity. On his program Monday, Hannity said that “parents should have the choice” on whether to vaccinate their children. Hannity featured commentary from Dr. Eric Braverman who told millions of views that “no one” is giving their children the full course of vaccine shots. According to Braverman there is an “overreliance” on vaccines to prevent disease.

The segment featured more medically accurate commentary from Dr. Marc Siegel, who accused Braverman of perpetrating a “bait and switch.” Even Siegel, however, opposed mandatory vaccinations. Braverman concluded the segment by claiming that vaccines “don’t always work” and attributing the measles outbreak in Disneyland to the combination of heat and junk food.

In 2015, there have been more than 100 cases of measles reported in the U.S. across 14 states. The Center For Disease Control is “very concerned” that the country could be on its way to a major measles outbreak. Already, dozens of babies, too young to get vaccinated, have been forced into isolation.

Although Megyn Kelly has a growing reputation of standing up to some of the worst excesses on Fox News, not everyone is impressed.

Mitt Romney Won’t Run in 2016 Presidential Election

Mitt Romney had expressed renewed interest this month in another presidential run, but his flirtation prompted a fierce backlash across Republican circles. Credit Travis Dove for The New York Times

The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, told a group of supporters on Friday that he would not seek his party’s nomination for president in 2016.

Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, shared his decision on a conference call with a small group of advisers.

In a second call to a larger group of supporters, Mr. Romney said, “After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I’ve decided it is best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity to become our next nominee.”

Mr. Romney said he believed he could win the nomination, but he expressed concern about harming the party’s chances to retake the White House. “I did not want to make it more difficult for someone else to emerge who may have a better chance of becoming the president,” he said.

He added that it was “unlikely” that he would change his mind.

Mr. Romney, who did not take questions and ended the call shortly after reading a prepared statement, said that his family had been gratified by the outpouring of support, but had decided that it was best for the Republican Party to step aside. Mr. Romney said he would have no leadership PAC and no exploratory committee.

By not pursuing a third White House bid, Mr. Romney frees up scores of donors and operatives who had been awaiting his decision, and creates space for other potential center-right candidates such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Mr. Romney, 67, had expressed renewed interest in another presidential run to a group of donors earlier this month, roiling the nascent Republican race. Many of his loyal contributors, staff members and supporters had been reluctant to come out for one of his potential rivals until they knew Mr. Romney’s plans.

But his flirtation had also prompted a fierce backlash across Republican circles, and some of Mr. Romney’s former aides and donors have begun moving on to other candidates.

In a more than four-hour meeting last week, Mr. Romney’s top staff members and trusted advisers from 2012 relayed a sobering reality — they supported Mr. Romney and thought he would be the best president, but they did not necessarily encourage a third run.

One by one, loyal supporters talked about surveying their troops from 2012, and finding that the enthusiasm and support were just not there. Some Iowa precinct leaders were not coming back, and even in New Hampshire — where Mr. Romney had won the primary — the mood was described at best as “cautiously optimistic.” The situation with donors was also going to be an uphill climb.

Word of Mr. Romney’s decision sent waves through the Republican donor world early Friday, as Romney aides began to telegraph the news to donors and other staff members and strategists. Some donors immediately began calling representatives of other potential candidates, such as Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, to discuss offering their support.

Mr. Romney’s announcement started a day of reckoning with his would-be rivals. He is scheduled to have dinner with Mr. Christie on Friday evening, according to two people with knowledge of his schedule, suggesting that Mr. Romney may be considering throwing his support, and that of his own political operation, to Mr. Christie. The two men are friendly, and Mr. Christie, along with Mr. Bush, was a main rival of Mr. Romney for the favor of the Republican establishment.

Mr. Bush offered his own warm words for Mr. Romney in a post on Facebook on Friday morning.

Mitt is a patriot and I join many in hoping his days of serving our nation and our party are not over,” Mr. Bush wrote. “I look forward to working with him.”

At 11 on Thursday night, a blast email was sent from a mittromney.com address, alerting supporters about a conference call on Friday morning.

“Please join me for an update call tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. EST, 8:00 a.m. PST,” wrote Mr. Romney, adding the dial-in information and concluding, “All the best, Mitt.”

In an appearance at Mississippi State University on Wednesday, Mr. Romney sounded themes that could have shaped another campaign. But he also lamented the nature of the political process and offered a dose of barely veiled self-criticism, discussing some of the shortcomings of his 2012 campaign and the lessons he learned from his loss to President Obama.

Mr. Romney’s decision will almost certainly bring an end to his decade-long quest to become president. He lost in the Republican primary in 2008 before becoming his party’s standard-bearer four years later.

Friday’s conference call seemed bittersweet for the Romney family. At one point, Mr. Romney’s wife, Ann, came on the line and thanked the former aides for their steadfast support.

But luck was clearly not with Mr. Romney this time, even as he shared the news with his former staff members on his morning call. Mr. Romney’s voice fell off the line as the connection was suddenly dropped.

H/t: DB

Bill Clinton Warned Jeb Is ‘Real Threat,’ Christie Not So Much

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Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) | Jeff Chiu

I’m not sure if Bill Clinton is right.  I suspect he wants Jeb Bush to be the Republican nominee knowing the nation wants no part of another Bush in office.  Therefore, making it easier for Hillary’s chances of winning the Presidency in 2016.

TPM LiveWire

That’s according to an extensive piece in Politico published Monday about the former secretary’s possible presidential campaign. Former President Clinton, according to the Politico piece, got a “heads-up” from people in former President George H. W. Bush’s world just a few days after the former Gov. Bush announced that he would “actively explore” running for president. In the words of Politico, former President Clinton saw Bush as a “real threat” while Christie as more of a “sideshow.”

Early polling of the Republican primary field has shown Bush leading a host of other candidates.

Despite the politcal rivalry, the Bush family and the Clinton family are actually somewhat close. Former President Clinton has repeatedly visited Former President H.W. Bush in Maine every summer and former Gov. Bush once presented former Secretary Clinton with an award. Former President George W. Bush has also referred to former President Clinton as his “brother from another mother.”

H/t: DB

10 things you need to know today: December 29, 2014

Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini grieves with relatives of the missing AirAsia flight.

Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini grieves with relatives of the missing AirAsia flight | (Getty/Robertus Pudyanto)

The Week

The search resumes for the missing AirAsia jet, Jeb Bush leads an early GOP presidential poll, and more

1. Indonesian officials say missing airliner probably “at the bottom of the sea”
Crews on Monday spotted suspicious objects in the water after resuming the search for AirAsia Flight 8501, which vanished on Sunday with 162 people on board. The head of Indonesia’s search and rescue operations said Monday that the airliner is believed to be “at the bottom of the sea.” The Airbus A320-200 went missing over the Java Sea after running into intense thunderstorms. It disappeared without a distress call shortly after air-traffic controllers reportedly denied the crew’s request for permission to climb to a higher altitude. [USA Today, The Washington Post]

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2. Jeb Bush leads potential GOP presidential rivals
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush holds a big lead over other possible Republican presidential candidates, according to a CNN/ORC Poll. Bush, the son and brother of former presidents, was favored by nearly 23 percent of Republicans polled. His closest competitor, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, trailed him by 10 points. Bush, 61, said two weeks ago that he would start raising money and formally exploring the possibility of launching a bid for the White House in 2016. [New York Daily News]

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3. Palestinians prepare to submit statehood resolution to U.N.
Palestinian leaders plan to give the United Nations a final draft of a statehood resolution on Monday. The document calls for reaching a peace deal with Israel within a year that would include an end to Israeli control of Palestinian territories by late 2017. The proposal would establish a state called Palestine — its capital in East Jerusalem — alongside Israel. The Israeli government supports negotiations but opposes U.N. action, saying that imposing a third-party timeline would deepen the conflict. [Reuters]

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4. Death toll rises to five in Greek ferry fire
The death toll from a fire on a Greek ferry boat has risen to five, Greek officials said Monday. At least 391 of the 478 passengers have been rescued since the fire broke out on a car that was on the vessel, the Norman Atlantic, as it sailed across the Adriatic Sea from Greece to Italy. Crews on ships and helicopters from both countries worked through the night plucking people from the ship. [The Associated Press]

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5. ISIS executed nearly 2,000 over six months
Islamic State militants executed 1,878 people in Syria over the last six months, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Sunday. An estimated 120 of the Islamist terrorist group’s own members were among the dead, nearly all of them fighters who were trying to leave battle and return to their home countries. The majority of those murdered were civilians; 930 were members of a Sunni Muslim tribe from eastern Syria. [Reuters]

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6. Ferguson police spokesman admits calling Brown memorial “trash”
A Ferguson, Missouri, police spokesman was placed on unpaid leave on Sunday for calling amakeshift memorial to Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen shot dead by a police officer, “a pile of trash in the middle of the street.” The spokesman, Tim Zoll, at first said he had been misquoted by The Washington Post, but later admitted to making the statement. The memorial had been built up in the middle of the street near the site where Brown was shot in August, but it was destroyed over the weekend when a car plowed through it. [The New York Times]

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7. Cameroon carries out airstrikes against Boko Haram rebels from Nigeria
Cameroon launched its first airstrikes against Islamist fighters belonging to the group Boko Haram on Sunday. The strikes were part of an offensive started after the Nigerian-based Boko Haram stepped up cross-border raids, threatening Cameroon’s security, officials said. Militants overran a military camp and briefly occupied it before the airstrikes drove them back into Nigeria. At least 41 Boko Haram fighters and one soldier were killed in the clashes, Cameroonian officials said. [BBC News]

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8. California surfer survives shark attack
A California surfer identified in local papers as Kevin Swanson survived being bitten and pulled underwater by a juvenile great white shark on Sunday. Witnesses said the man was on his surfboard when the eight- to 10-foot shark came up from below and struck. Swanson managed to paddle to shore, where fellow surfers and two doctors came to his aid. He was airlifted to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The shark bit into his right hip, but Swanson’s surfboard took the brunt of the attack. [Los Angeles Times, Fox News]

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9. Greek election turmoil drags down its market
Greek stocks plunged by 10 percent on Monday after the country’s parliament failed to pick a president in a crucial vote. Stavros Dimas, the government’s preferred candidate, fell 12 votes short of the 180 votes needed to avoid a general election, paving the way to snap elections in January. The political crisis could threaten Greece’s European financial bailout if the elections prevent the country from approving a revised bailout plan by the end of February. [CNBC, Bloomberg]

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10. Online viewers salvage The Interview‘s first weekend
Sony Pictures’ controversial comedy The Interview earned $15 million online through Saturday, nearly as much as it was expected to make on 3,000 screens before its nationwide rollout was scrapped. The film — about a TV host recruited to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — also brought in $3 million in ticket sales at 331 art house and independent theaters that agreed to screen it after national chains balked at showing the film due to threats by a group of hackers. [Variety]

10 things you need to know today: October 28, 2014

The lava is slowly making its way to Pahoa, Hawaii. 

The lava is slowly making its way to Pahoa, Hawaii | (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)

The Week

New Jersey releases quarantined Ebola nurse Kaci Hickox, creeping lava nears a Hawaii town, and more

1. Quarantined Ebola nurse allowed to leave New Jersey
New Jersey officials on Monday discharged a nurse, Kaci Hickox, who had been forcibly quarantined when she arrived at the Newark airport after treating Ebola patients in West Africa. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who had faced intense pressure to let Hickox, 33, leave the hospital, announced the news via Twitter. Hickox, who called the state’s quarantine policy “inhumane,” tested negative for Ebola. She returned home to Maine on Tuesday, and will be temporarily isolated at home under the state’s Ebola protocols. [USA Today, The Associated Press]

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2. Slow-flowing molten lava threatens Hawaiian village
Lava slowly flowing from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island has crept to within 70 yards of the nearest home in the village of Pahoa, and could destroy it on Tuesday. The lava was moving at 20 yards per hour, and had already covered graves in a Buddhist cemetery. Residents in the village, where 50 or 60 homes and businesses are threatened, have been told to be ready to evacuate. The Red Cross has opened a shelter to accommodate evacuees. [The Washington Post]

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3. U.S. Army quarantines soldiers after Ebola response mission
The U.S. military has started isolating Army soldiers returning from Ebola aid work in West Africa. The Centers for Disease Control on Monday said that health workers who have treated Ebola patients should be monitored, but should not be quarantined unless they show symptoms. The leader of the U.S. response said doctors and nurses should not be turned into “pariahs.” Australia on Monday became the first Western nation to impose a visa ban on the countries affected by the outbreak. [Reuters]

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4. Investigators say school shooter lured victims with text
The Washington state school shooter texted his five victims to invite them to lunch before shooting them in the cafeteria, Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary said Monday. Gia Soriano, 14, died Sunday from a gunshot to the head, and Zoe Galasso, also 14, died on Friday, the day of the shooting. The gunman — identified as 15-year-old football player Jaylen Fryberg, shot himself in the head and died. The three other shooting victims are still hospitalized. Asked about a motive, Trenary said, “I don’t know the ‘why.'” [Los Angeles Times]

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5. Report found no legal grounds for GOP to sue Obama
A nonpartisan Congressional Research Service report concluded last month that Republicans haveno legal grounds for filing a lawsuit against President Obama for allegedly breaking laws with his policies. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other Republicans have accused Obama of violating the Constitution by making changes to ObamaCare after it was passed, among other alleged offenses. Boehner aides say he has not decided on the timing for filing the suit. [Washington Monthly, Politico]

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6. ISIS posts a new video showing hostage John Cantlie
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria released a new propaganda video on Monday in which a British hostage, photojournalist John Cantlie, gives a tour of the besieged Syrian town of Kobani on the Turkish border. In the clip, Cantlie criticizes the Western media’s reporting on ISIS’ battle for the mostly Kurdish city, saying that areas reported to be under Kurdish control were really in the hands of ISIS. Cantlie said foreign journalists were getting the story wrong because they were getting their news from “Kurdish commanders and White House press secretaries.” [The Washington Post]

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7. Church court clears pastor temporarily defrocked over gay marriage
The United Methodist Church’s highest court ruled Monday that the Rev. Frank Schaefer, a pastor temporarily defrocked last year for performing his gay son’s wedding, will be allowed to continue his ministry. The ruling was made on technical grounds, and did not signal an official acceptance of same-sex marriage by the nation’s second largest Protestant denomination. Still, Schaefer said, “This is definitely a step further down the road.” [Los Angeles Times]

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8. Prosecutors appeal Pistorius verdict and sentence
South African prosecutors plan to appeal double-amputee track star Oscar Pistorius’ five-year sentence for shooting and killing his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, last year. Pistorius said he shot Steenkamp by mistake, thinking she was an intruder. Prosecutors said the judge misinterpreted the country’s legal definition of intent when she found Pistorius guilty of manslaughter instead of murder. Legal experts said there was no chance the appeal would result in Pistorius’ acquittal. [CNN]

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9. Researchers say BP oil spill left a “bathtub ring” in the Gulf of Mexico
The 2010 BP oil spill left a Rhode-Island-sized “bathtub ring” on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, according to new research. The study was conducted by UC Santa Barbara expert David Valentine, who was the chief scientist on the federal damage assessment research ships. It concludes that about 10 million gallons of oil coagulated on the sea floor around the damaged Deepwater Horizons oil rig, which spilled an estimated 172 million gallons of oil. BP disputed the findings, saying the researchers “failed to identify the source of the oil.” [NBC News]

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10. Businessman John Tory elected to replace Rob Ford as Toronto mayor
Toronto voters on Monday elected lawyer, businessman, and civic booster John Tory to replace scandal-plagued Rob Ford as mayor of Canada’s largest city. Tory, 60, defeated Ford’s brother, Doug Ford, 40 percent to 34 percent. Doug Ford threw the race into turmoil when he replaced his brother on the ballot just before the Sept. 12 deadline. Rob Ford instead ran for city councillor in his old Ward 2 seat… and won. [The Star]

Chris Christie Wants You To Know He’d Rather Die Than Be A U.S. Senator

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AP Photo / Mel Evans

TPM LiveWire

“I would rather die than be in the United States Senate,” Christie said Saturday during a speech to the New Jersey state NAACP. “Okay? I would be bored to death. Could you imagine me banging around that chamber with 99 other people, asking for a motion on the amendment in the subcommittee? Forget it.”

“It would be over, everybody,” he added. “You’d watch me just walk out and walk right into the Potomac River and drown. That would be it.”

His remarks on the Senate drew laughs from the audience.

Christie, who is mulling a 2016 presidential bid, said that his legacy in New Jersey would be defined by what he accomplishes by the end of his final term as governor — not by the next election.

“Believe me, by the way, when I say ‘I’m never running for public office in New Jersey again,'” Christie said. “I mean I’ll never run for public office in New Jersey again.”

h/t Business Insider

13 Republican Climate Deniers Who Want to Be President

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This is some important information for those on the fence trying to figure out who to choose as the next Republican Presidential candidate in 2016…

Mother Jones

This story originally appeared on Grist and is republished here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

It’s hard to believe, surveying the GOP field of possible presidential nominees, but back in 2008 the parties were not that far apart on climate change. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Republican nominee, backed cap-and-trade for carbon emissions. After joining his ticket, so did Sarah Palin. But back then, lots of Republicans and conservatives also supported an individual mandate to buy health insurance. The Republican Party of 2008 was a big enough tent to include people who admitted demonstrable problems existed and supported free-market-oriented solutions. Not anymore. The rise of the Tea Party movement and the rightward shift of the Republican base and the politicians who pander to it put an end to all that. Whoever is the Republican nominee for president in 2016, it’s a safe bet that he—and yes, it will be a he, as all the leading contenders are male—will oppose taking any action on climate change. Chances are that he won’t even admit it exists.

The Republicans basically fall into four categories: (1) Flat-Earthers, who deny the existence of manmade climate change; (2) Born-Again Flat-Earthers, who do the same, but who had admitted climate change exists back before President Obama took office; (3) Do-Nothings, who sort of admit the reality of climate change but oppose actually taking any steps to prevent it; and (4) Dodgers, who have avoided saying whether they believe climate change is happening, and who also don’t want to take any steps to alleviate it. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker fall into the latter category. The Do-Nothings are blue and purple state governors, Chris Christie of New Jersey and John Kasich of Ohio. In a sign of how far rightward Republicans have moved since 2008, these are actually the guys who are trying to position themselves as relatively moderate and pragmatic. The Born-Agains are Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Both are staunch conservatives but only partial wingnuts. Back when that meant believing in climate change, they did, but they have since followed their base into fantasyland. Everyone else is an outright denier and always has been.

Here’s our full breakdown of all 13 of the top potential hopefuls, including their lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters if they served in Congress. No, we did not include Donald Trump even though he would probably lead in the polls if he ran. And alas, we cannot predict who might be the next Herman Cain. MaybePapa John? If he, or any other pizza moguls, run, we’ll add an update.

Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida

Category: Flat-Earther

While President George W. Bush never did anything about global warming, his brother goes further, by not even admitting it exists. In 2009, Jeb Bush toldEsquire, “I’m a skeptic. I’m not a scientist. I think the science has been politicized. I would be very wary of hollowing out our industrial base even further… It may be only partially man-made. It may not be warming by the way. The last six years we’ve actually had mean temperatures that are cooler. I think we need to be very cautious before we dramatically alter who we are as a nation because of it.” Last year, he talked about how generating power with natural gas instead of coal would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but he avoided actually saying the C-word or mentioning why reducing emissions would be a good thing.

Notable quote: “I think global warming may be real.… It is not unanimous among scientists that it is disproportionately manmade. What I get a little tired of on the left is this idea that somehow science has decided all this so you can’t have a view.” (2011)

Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey

Category: Do-Nothing

Compared to all of his competitors, Christie’s position on climate change is refreshingly reality-based. In 2011, he said: “There’s undeniable data that CO2 levels and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere are increasing. This decade, average temperatures have been rising. Temperature changes are affecting weather patterns and our climate…when you have over 90 percent of the world’s scientists who have studied this stating that climate change is occurring and that humans play a contributing role, it’s time to defer to the experts.” Other than the fact that he understated the scientific consensus—it’s more like 97 or 98 percent—there isn’t much to find fault with there. But if you think that means Christie will back action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, think again. On the same day he made those comments, he withdrew New Jersey from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade program for Northeastern energy utilities, complaining that it was “nothing more than a tax on electricity.” He also rolled back his state’s renewable energy goal, from 30 percent by 2021 to 22.5 percent. And the Christie administration conspicuously does not mention climate change in the context of Sandy recovery.

Notable quote: “I haven’t been shown any definitive proof yet that [climate change] is what caused [Sandy]. And this is just, listen, this is a distraction. I’ve got a place to rebuild here and people want to talk to me about esoteric theories.” (2013)

Ted Cruz, senator from Texas

Category: Flat-Earther

Cruz—a high school valedictorian, Princeton alum, and editor of the Harvard Law Review—is supposed to be smart. His grasp of climate science, however, leaves much to be desired. In a February interview with CNN, Cruz deployed classic, bogus GOP talking points about climate change. “The last 15 years, there has been no recorded warming. Contrary to all the theories that they are expounding, there should have been warming over the last 15 years. It hasn’t happened,” said Cruz. “You know, back in the ’70s—I remember the ’70s, we were told there was global cooling. And everyone was told global cooling was a really big problem. And then that faded.” There has, in fact, been global warming in the last 15 years. And it is not true that in the 1970s “everyone was told global cooling was a really big problem.”

Notable quote: “Climate change, as they have defined it, can never be disproved, because whether it gets hotter or whether it gets colder, whatever happens, they’ll say, well, it’s changing, so it proves our theory.” (2014)

LCV score: 15 percent

Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas

Category: Born-Again Flat-Earther

In 2007, when all the cool kids were for cap-and-trade, so was Huckabee. He said, “One thing that all of us have a responsibility to do is recognize that climate change is here, it’s real.… I also support cap-and-trade of carbon emissions. And I was disappointed that the Senate rejected a carbon counting system to measure the sources of emissions, because that would have been the first and the most important step toward implementing true cap-and-trade.” But Huckabee totally flip-flopped after the rise of the Tea Party and anti-Obamaism reshaped the GOP. In 2010, he even denied that he ever had supported cap-and-trade. “This kind of mandatory energy policy would have a horrible impact on this nation’s job market,” he wrote in a blog post. “I never did support and never would support it—period.” By 2013, he was hosting climate-denier-in-chief Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) on his radio show to spread falsehoods. Among the ones Huck contributed himself: “When I was in college, all the literature at that time from the scientific community said that we were going to freeze to death.”

Notable quote: “The volcano that erupted over in Northern Europe [in 2010] actually poured more CO2 into the air in that single act of nature than all of humans have in something like the past 100 years.” (2013) Actually, no, it didn’t.)

Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana

Category: Dodger

Jindal was supposed to be the great hope of smart Republicans. He majored in biology at Brown, was a Rhodes scholar, and he famously declared, “We’ve got to stop being the stupid party.” But he’s done his fair share of dumbing down the GOP. As Brown biology professor Kenneth R. Miller wrote in Slate, “In [Jindal’s] rise to prominence in Louisiana, he made a bargain with the religious right and compromised science and science education for the children of his state.” He signed into law the Louisiana Science Education Act, which “allows ‘supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials’ to be brought into classrooms to support the ‘open and objective discussion’ of certain ‘scientific theories,'” such as evolution and climate change. In other words, he’s promoting creationism and climate change denialism in public schools. Still, Jindal has never come out and stated whether he accepts climate science.

Notable quote, on EPA’s proposal to regulate CO2 from power plants: “This is such a dangerous overreach in terms of the potential threat to our economy and our ability to restore those manufacturing jobs, I absolutely do think litigation needs to be on the table.” (2014)

LCV score: 6 percent

John Kasich, governor of Ohio

Category: Do-Nothing

In what passes for moderation in today’s GOP, Kasich actually acknowledges the existence of global warming. That doesn’t mean he wants to do much about it. “I happen to believe there is a problem with climate change. I don’t want to overreact to it, I can’t measure it all, but I respect the creation that the Lord has given us and I want to make sure we protect it,” Kasich said in 2012 at an energy conference hosted by The Hill. Ohio is rich in coal and heavily dependent on it for energy, and Kasich pledged to keep it that way, touting the promise of ever-elusive “clean coal.” In comments to reporters after that 2012 event, Kasich said he opposes EPA regulation of coal-fired power plants’ CO2 emissions: “I believe there is something to [climate change], but to be unilaterally doing everything here while China and India are belching and putting us in a noncompetitive position isn’t good.” Still, give him credit for evolving; in 2008, he claimed, “Global warming is cyclical, and the focus of a ferocious debate.”

Notable quote: “I am just saying that I am concerned about it, but I am not laying awake at night worrying the sky is falling.” (2012)

LCV score: 27 percent

Rand Paul, senator from Kentucky

Category: Flat-Earther

What makes Paul so scary is that he actually believes the crazy things he says. When your average Republican talks about small government, you know it’s all just code for “protecting the currently wealthy and their businesses.” So, if you could convince most GOP politicians that it’s in their political interest to take action on climate change, they could be moved. Paul isn’t like that. He is actually committed to his far-right, small-government ideology. He doesn’t even think, for example, that the federal government has the power to force businesses to racially integrate. So of course he doesn’t support action to address climate change, and he never will. When he’s trying to sound more mainstream, he says climate science is “not conclusive“; at other times, he caricatures the science of climate change to try to discredit it.

Notable quote: “If you listen to the hysterics…,you would think that the Statue of Liberty will shortly be under water and the polar bears are all drowning, and that we’re dying from pollution. It’s absolutely and utterly untrue.” (2011)

LCV score: 11 percent

Mike Pence, governor of Indiana

Category: Flat-Earther

Pence is an ultra-conservative who does not much care for environmental regulation. He also remains unconvinced that the Earth is warming. “In the mainstream media, there is a denial of the growing skepticism in the scientific community on global warming,” Pence claimed in a 2009 interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. It is not clear what “growing skepticism” he was referring to. In the same interview, Pence refused to say if he believes in evolution but implied that he does not.

Notable quote: “I think the science is very mixed on the subject of global warming.” (2009)

LCV score: 4 percent

 

Rick Perry

Rick Perry, governor of Texas

Category: Flat-Earther

Perry is no one’s idea of a man of science or an intellectual, not even his supporters’. Texas political insiders call him “Bush without the brains.” At Texas A&M, he got mostly Cs and Ds, even in gym, and an F in organic chemistry. When drought parched Texas in 2011, Perry’s solution was to call for three days of prayer for rain. Remarkably enough, that didn’t work. Perry, who is extremely close with polluters who donate to his campaigns, simply invents facts to suit his conviction that climate change isn’t happening. In 2011, he said, “I think we’re seeing it almost weekly or even daily, scientists who are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.” The Washington Post fact-checker debunked this claim. Perry’s 2012 presidential run was disastrous, in part because he proved himself too dumbeven for Republican primary voters, which is sort of like being too white for Iceland. And yet, he is making noises about running again. And since Republican primary voters seem to get dumber with each election cycle, he could be a contender this time.

Notable quote: “I don’t believe man-made global warming is settled in science enough.” (2011)
 

Marco Rubio, senator from Florida

Category: Born-Again Flat-Earther

Like a lot of ambitious Republicans, Rubio tacitly accepted the science of climate change back in 2007. He talked up renewable energy and referred to global warming as one of the reasons to embrace it. By 2009, he had seen the error of his ways, saying, “There’s a significant scientific dispute” about climate change. By 2010, he was using his Republican primary opponent Charlie Crist‘s belief in “man-made global warming” as an attack line. In May 2014, Rubio made an inept effort to deny climate science, saying, “Our climate is always changing. And what they have chosen to do is take a handful of decades of research and say that this is now evidence of a longer-term trend that’s directly and almost solely attributable to manmade activities.” Ah, merely “a handful of decades of research.” That’s nothing, right? After getting a lot of blowback for those comments, he tried to clarify and just dug himself in deeper.

Notable quote: “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it.” (2014)

LCV score: 11 percent

Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan, U.S. rep from Wisconsin

Category: Flat-Earther

Climate change can be a tough issue for someone who wants to present himself as a wonk, as Ryan so very badly does. To just ignore the science is to risk looking dumb. So, for Ryan, opposition to climate regulation is more about his intense opposition to economic regulation more generally. He constantly asserts that climate regulations, for example, would impose an enormous cost on our economy. Insofar as he discusses the underlying science of climate change, though, he tries to cast doubt on it, using a combination of phony concern for scientific accuracy and an even phonier regular-Midwestern-guy shtick. In a 2009op-ed, he devoted several paragraphs to the trumped-up scandal at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit and suggested that climate change should be a low priority for Wisconsinites because it snows in their state in the winter, writing: “Unilateral economic restraint in the name of fighting global warming has been a tough sell in our communities, where much of the state is buried under snow.” In July, while refusing to discuss the science of climate change, Ryan asserted that the EPA’s proposed power plant regulations are “obnoxious.” “I think they’re exceeding their authority and I think they kill jobs,” he said.

Notable quote: “[T]here is growing disagreement among scientists about climate change and its causes.” (2010)  LCV score: 13 percent

 

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum, former senator from Pennsylvania

Category: Flat-Earther

As you might expect from a religious extremist who once compared homosexuality to “man on dog,” Santorum’s beliefs on climate change are unapologetically ignorant. At least he can boast of having been consistent. As Politico noted of Santorum in 2011, “Unlike Romney and some of the other GOP presidential candidates, the former senator has never backed cap-and-trade legislation or other mandatory policies to curb greenhouse gases.” Santorum attacked Romney for admitting that climate change was happening, calling it “junk science” that was invented by liberals to gain greater control over the economy. And his May 2014 book calls climate change a “hyped-up crisis.”

Notable quote: “I for one never bought the hoax. I for one understand just from science that there are one hundred factors that influence the climate. To suggest that one minor factor of which man’s contribution is a minor factor in the minor factor is the determining ingredient in the sauce that affects the entire global warming and cooling is just absurd on its face.” (2012)

LCV score: 10 percent

Scott Walker

Eric Brown/Flickr

Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin

Category: Dodger

Walker is a favorite of the Koch brothers—he notoriously kissed ass during a call with a prankster pretending to be David Koch. The oil oligarchs like him because he opposes governmental regulations, except for when the regulation stymies clean energy. Walker imposed regulations to keep wind turbines further away from homes and signed a pledge never to pass a carbon tax. He has also raised money for the Heartland Institute, an organization that spreads climate misinformation. But he’s never actually said whether he accepts climate science.

Notable quote, criticizing his gubernatorial opponent for pushing climate legislation: “Governor [Jim] Doyle [D] has put his trust in international politicians, bureaucrats, celebrities and discredited scientists to replace the real manufacturing jobs Wisconsin is losing every day.” (2009)