U.S. Politics

10 Things You Need to Know Today: January 31, 2015

(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

The Week

1.Mitt Romney will not run for president in 2016
In an 11 a.m. call on Friday with senior donors, Mitt Romney announced that despite heavy speculation that he would step into the 2016 race for president, he will not consider a bid after all. “I’ve decided it is best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity to become our next nominee,” he said. The announcement prompted several top GOP donors to throw their support behind Jeb Bush instead.

Source: USA Today, The New York Times

2.African Union to send 7,500 troops to Nigeria to help fight Boko Haram
African Union leaders agreed during a two-day summit in Ethiopia to send 7,500 troops to help push back the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. Boko Haram militants have killed thousands in the five years that they have expanded their reach through northeast Nigeria; and, insurgents have increased the frequency of their attacks in the leadup to Nigeria’sFeb. 14 elections.

Source: The Associated Press

3.CDC: Disneyland measles outbreak likely came from overseas
Health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have announced that the measles outbreak that started in California’s Disneyland likely came from overseas, probably brought either by a foreign tourist or an American returning home. So far, 94 people in eight states have become infected with the measles, and 67 of those cases are linked to Disneyland. The outbreak is “a wake-up call to make sure we keep measles from regaining a foothold in our country,” Dr. Anne Schuchat of the CDC said, adding that the outbreak is occurring because some people aren’t vaccinated against the disease.

Source: NBC News

4.South African apartheid death squad leader to be freed on parole
South African apartheid death-squad leader Eugene de Kock, also known as “Prime Evil,” was granted parole on Friday. The ex-cop will be released from prison after serving more than 20 years for the torture and murder of black South African activists in the 1980s and early 1990s. South Africa justice minister Michael Masutha said in a news conference that de Kock was released “in the interests of nation-building and reconciliation.” He added that de Kock has expressed remorse and helped authorities recover the remains of some of his victims.

Source: The Guardian

5.U.S. economic growth slowed in fourth quarter of 2014
U.S. gross domestic product expanded at a 2.6 percent annual rate in 2014’s fourth quarter, a sharp decline from the third quarter, when the U.S. economy posted its strongest growth in more than a decade with a 5 percent GDP reading. Economists had estimated that America’s economy grew by 3 percent during the last three months of 2014. “The consumer did the heavy lifting, and I don’t think there is any reason to expect that to change in the first half of this year, because of the enormous tailwind from lower gasoline prices,” Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics, said.

Source: Reuters

6.Serena Williams defeats Maria Sharapova to win 6th Australian Open
Notching her sixth Australian Open victory and 19th Grand Slam title, Serena Williams powered through a nagging cough to defeat Maria Sharapova 6-3, 7-6 (5) on Saturday. The top-ranked tennis star’s victory makes her the oldest winner of the Australian Open women’s title, at 33 years old. The win also moves Williams into second place for most major wins; she is now just three major titles away from tying Steffi Graf’s Open Era record of 22.

Source: The Associated Press

7.Most Americans support government action to stop climate change
A new poll from The New York Times found that a majority of Americans, including almost half of Republicans, support government action to stop climate change. Seventy-seven percent of Americans said the federal government “should be doing a substantial amount to combat climate change.” The poll, conducted in conjunction with Stanford University and the nonpartisan environmental research group Resources for the Future, surveyed 1,006 adults and found that two-thirds of the respondents said they were more likely to vote for presidential candidates whose campaign platforms included fighting climate change.

Source: The New York Times

8.Russia unexpectedly cuts interest rates
Weeks after hiking interest rates to an 11-year high, Russia unexpectedly cut them again on Friday. The central bank lowered the benchmark rate from 17 percent to 15 percent, which spiked ruble sales, driving it down 4 percent against the dollar. In 2014, the central bank raised the rate six times, and officials and business leaders had warned that the economy would crash unless the rates came down. Earlier in January, an aide to President Vladimir Putin called doing business “impossible” at the current interest rate.

Source: Bloomberg Business

9. George Zimmerman’s ex-girlfriend recants story, assault charges dropped
Prosecutors announced on Friday that they won’t file a formal charge in an assault case against George Zimmerman because his ex-girlfriend, Brittany Brunelle, recanted her story. Florida State Attorney Phil Archer said there were no other eyewitnesses to the alleged event, in which Brunelle originally stated that Zimmerman threw a wine bottle at her and destroyed her cellphone. Zimmerman was arrested three weeks ago, but three days after his arrest, Brunelle asked in a statement that prosecutors not file charges, adding that she was “under no pressure and had been offered no money” to make the statement.

Source: The Associated Press

10.Jay Z to buy music streaming service Aspiro for $56 million
Jay Z has purchased Scandinavian music streaming service Aspiro for $56 million. Project Panther Bidco Ltd., a company Jay Z controls, announcedon Friday that it was purchasing Aspiro, “an innovative, high-quality company with strong future growth potential.” The Norwegian media group Schibsted, Aspiro’s main shareholder, said it had accepted the offer, and Aspiro’s board is “united in recommending the bid.”
2016 Hopefuls · Mitt Romney

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

U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: January 30, 2015

Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Week

1.Obama calls for ending automatic spending limits in new budget
President Obama is calling for a 7 percent increase in military and domestic spending in his new budget proposal, the White House said Thursday. The spending plan, to be unveiled Monday, calls for ending four-year-old congressionally mandated spending caps known as “sequestration” now that budget deficits have returned to pre-Great-Recession levels. Republicans criticized the plan, saying its mix of new taxes and an end to automatic spending cuts would do nothing to solve long-term budget problems.

Source: The Washington Post, Reuters

2.Mitt Romney will reportedly announce his 2016 decision today
Mitt Romney (R) will announce his plans for the 2016 elections on Friday morning, according to multiple reports. Supporters of Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign received an email Thursday inviting them to join a call with Romney on Friday morning for “an update.” Sources have confirmed to Bloomberg that Romney is ready to announce a decision about a potential presidential bid in 2016.

Source: Politico, Bloomberg

3.Keystone pipeline clears a big hurdle
The GOP-led Senate on Thursday passed a bill approving construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, but Republicans were just short of the votes needed to override President Obama’s threatened veto. The bill must now be reconciled with a similar one passed by the House. Supporters say the project will create jobs; opponents say it’s not worth the environmental risk. Press Secretary Josh Earnest reiterated Obama’s plan to veto the bill. The pipeline would carry oil from Canadian tar sands to Gulf Coast refineries.

Source: The Huffington Post, Fox News

4.Sinai attacks leave 32 dead
Militants simultaneously hit more than a dozen army and police targets in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Thursday, killing at least 25 soldiers and one policeman and wounding more than 60. Egyptian health officials raised the death toll to 32 on Friday. At least one car bomb and numerous mortar shells destroyed buildings at a military base, burying soldiers with debris. An army spokesman blamed the Muslim Brotherhood, but before the attack the Islamic State affiliate in Egypt tweeted a photo of militants carrying rocket-propelled grenades.

Source: The Associated Press

5.Google reports revenue growth, but not as much as expected
Google reported a 15 percent increase in revenue over the last quarter, falling shy of expectations. The average price for Google’s online ads fell by 3 percent, although some analysts had been hoping to see those prices rise. Google’s stock dipped on the news but rallied to close up by 0.1 percent, at $510.66 per share. Google has been battling to keep its advertising revenue strong as users of its online services shift to mobile devices, where ads sell for less.

Source: Reuters

6.McCain kicks out anti-war “scum” from Senate hearing
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain booted several protesters from the anti-war group Code Pink from a budget hearing after they approached a witness table and called former secretary of State Henry Kissinger a war criminal. “Get out of here, you low-life scum,” McCain told the protesters. Kissinger, who served under in the Nixon administration during the Vietnam war, was testifying along with his counterparts from the Clinton and Reagan administrations, Madeleine Albright and George P. Shultz.

Source: The Associated Press

7.Dartmouth bans drinking on campus
Dartmouth College on Thursday announced broad changes to cut down on dangerous behavior on campus, including bans on alcohol and pledging at fraternities and sororities. Students also will have to participate in a program aimed at preventing sexual violence. Dartmouth developed the plan, called Moving Dartmouth Forward, based on recommendations from a committee formed last spring. The initiative came after a former fraternity wrote an expose two years ago describing hazing and drinking at the Ivy League school.

Source: The Boston Globe

8.Jordan lets ISIS prisoner-swap deadline pass
Jordan let the Islamic State’s deadline for a prisoner exchange pass on Thursday, demanding proof that a captured Jordanian fighter pilot was alive before it would release imprisoned failed suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi. ISIS had said it would kill the pilot, Moaz al-Kasasbeh, and Japanese hostage Kenji Goto unless Jordan delivered al-Rishawi to the Syrian-Turkish border by sundown Thursday. “Rishawi is still in Jordan,” a government spokesman said, “and the exchange will happen once we receive the proof of life we ask for.”

Source: The New York Times

9. Texas executes killer with 67 IQ
Texas executed convicted murderer Robert Ladd on Thursday despite defense attorney’s claims that he shouldn’t be put to death because he was mentally disabled. “Anywhere else in the country, Mr. Ladd’s IQ of 67 would have meant a life sentence, not death,” defense attorney Brian Stull said this week. Ladd was convicted for beating Vicki Ann Garner, 38, to death with a hammer and then setting her body on fire. At the time, he was on parole for a 1980 stabbing and arson that killed three people.

Source: MSNBC

10.Obama taps former Procter & Gamble chief to run Veterans Affair
Secretary of State John Kerry said after meeting with Iraqi leaders on Monday that embattled Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had pledged to form a new government. [Fox News, Reuters]
114th Congress · Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Senate Democrats Leave Door Open To Skip Netanyahu Speech



Only one senator asked by BuzzFeed News — Sen. Ben Cardin — said he’d definitely go.

WASHINGTON — When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint session of Congress in March, it is unclear whether everybody invited will actually show up.

Democrats have criticized House Speaker John Boehner for circumventing the administration when he invited Netanyahu to speak, and the White House has already said Obama will not meet with him when he’s here.

BuzzFeed News asked several Senate Democrats whether they planned on skipping the speech or not. Most said they either hadn’t thought about it or they hadn’t decided. But there were no hard answers in the negative. Only one senator definitively said he would go.

Sen. Tim Kaine, who serves on both the Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees and recently traveled to Israel, said it’s “too early” to decide whether he’ll attend or not.

“It is not the norm to do this right before an election and it is being widely reported in the Israeli press as the U.S. expressing some kind of a preference,” Kaine said.

Sen. Chris Murphy expressed a similar sentiment.

“I’m sick about the fact that protocol has been violated, but you know, I’m always eager to hear what he has to say,” Sen. Chris Murphy said. “It’s not something that I have thought about one way or the other.”

A Democratic aide said their office was only informed of the scheduled date on Thursday and it was unclear if “anything’s been discussed at this point by anyone in the Senate.”

Netanyahu’s arrival will come at a tense time. He’s up for re-election in mid-March and many have said they are uncomfortable having him make a political speech to Congress so close to that vote. The U.S. is also in talks with Iran over its nuclear program.

Netanyahu is slated to address Congress on March 3.

When asked whether he’d attend, Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson said he’d “figure that out later.”

Sen. Chris Coons, who serves on the Foreign Relations Committee, said, “I’ll be weighing what’s the best thing to do.”

“I remain hopeful that his address would be delayed until after their election,” the Delaware Democrat told BuzzFeed News.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein declined to comment. Sen. Ed Markey referred BuzzFeed News to his press office.

Sen. Ben Cardin, a senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee, was the lone senator who said he would attend no matter what.

“I’d be more than happy to meet with opposition leaders if they want to meet with us, give them opportunities, etcetera,” Cardin told BuzzFeed News. “But if the Prime Minister of Israel addresses a joint session of Congress, I would be there.”

Speaking at the Democrat retreat in Philadelphia Wednesday night, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi warned of the effects a visit from Netanyahu could have on the Iran talks.

“In terms of invitations to speak to Congress — the Prime Minister has spoken two times. The only person who has spoken more is Winston Churchill,” Pelosi said. “One of the times, my father was in the room; Dec. 26 — the day after Christmas — 1941, right when we were going into World War II. It’s a serious, big honor that we extend. That it should be extended two weeks before an election in a country, without collaboration among the leaders of Congress, and without collaboration with the White House, is not appropriate. It is not appropriate.”

Islam In America · Texas

Protester Grabs Mic At Muslim Event: ‘Islam Will Not Dominate’ Texas (VIDEO)

Attribution: None

TPM LiveWire

And later on Thursday, a protester ran up to the podium during a press conference for the Texas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and grabbed the microphone.

“Islam will never dominate the United States and by the grace of God, it will not dominate Texas,” she yelled.

Watch a video of the protester via the Texas Tribune:

Muslim Capitol Day participants were also met with hostility by state Rep. Molly White (R). Shewrote on Facebook Thursday that she told her staff to “ask representatives from the Muslim community to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws.”

White issued a statement later in the day and said she would “welcome all of my constituents who would like to come and visit our office in the Texas State Capitol.”

H/t Mediaite

2016 Hopefuls · Mitt Romney · President Barack Obama

Obama Mocks Mitt Romney For Being ‘Suddenly Deeply Concerned About Poverty’

US President Barack Obama shakes hands with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at the end of the third and final presidential debate October 22, 2012 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images) | MANDEL NGAN via Getty Images

The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — Thought the 2012 presidential campaign was over? Think again.

President Barack Obama didn’t have much to say about Mitt Romney’s rekindled aspirations for the White House when he delivered a flat, “No comment,” earlier this month. But apparently he couldn’t resist much longer, following reports that the former GOP candidate was weighing entering the ring in 2016 on a platform focused on lifting up the middle class and eliminating poverty.

Addressing House Democrats at their annual retreat in Philadelphia on Thursday night, Obama referred to one “former presidential candidate” who was “suddenly deeply concerned about poverty.”

“That’s great. Lets do something about it,” Obama said, according to a White House pool report.

Romney fired back on Twitter, by noting poverty levels under the Obama administration.

“Mr. Obama, wonder why my concern about poverty? The record number of poor in your term, and your record of failure to remedy,” Romney said.

Obama also said in Philadelphia that he had heard a Republican senator, who he did not name, was “suddenly shocked, shocked, that the 1 percent” was doing much better than the vast majority of Americans.

“I consider imitation the highest form of flattery,” Obama said of Republicans’ sudden embrace of populist rhetoric.

Three Republican senators considering bids for president — Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Marco Rubio of Florida — spoke about the need to address income inequality at a summit organized by the Koch Brothers on Sunday.

5 Things You Need To Know Today

5 things you need to know now – 1-29-2015

Al-Kassasbeh, a Jordanian pilot, was captured by ISIS last month after the fighter jet he was flying crashed in Syria. ISIS says he’s still alive, but Jordan’s foreign minister told CNN his government has asked for a proof of life, but hasn’t received it. | CNN

The Week


ISIS gives Jordan until sunset Thursday for prisoner swap

In a new audio message posted Wednesday, a person purported to be ISIS hostage and Japanese journalist Kenji Goto says that if Jordan does not bring a failed suicide bomber to the Turkish border by sunset Thursday, a Jordanian fighter pilot held by the group will be executed. ISIS had previously said it would kill both Goto and the pilot, Mu’ath al-Kasaesbeh, unless Jordan releases Sajida al-Rishawi, a woman who was put in prison for her involvement in a 2005 botched suicide attack targeting a hotel in Amman. The latest message only mentions al-Kasaesbeh’s fate, and not Goto’s.

Source: NBC News


Raul Castro demands U.S. return Guantanamo Bay before ties restored

On Wednesday, Cuban President Raúl Castro publicly issued some new demands before the two countries normalize bilateral relations. Among them: Ending the U.S. trade embargo, agreeing to “give back the territory illegally occupied by the Guantanamo naval base,” and paying Cuba hundreds of millions of dollars as “just compensation to our people for the human and economic damage that they’re suffered” from the embargo. Castro’s demands, made in a speech at a Community of Latin American and Caribbean States summit in Costa Rica, aren’t likely to be met, but the nascent U.S.-Cuba negotiations will continue.

Source: The Associated Press


Hezbollah not planning to escalate skirmish, Israel says

Israel’s defense minister announced Thursday that Lebanese militant group Hezbollah isn’t planning further action against Israel after Wednesday’s attack. Hezbollah’s missile strike on an Israeli convoy in a disputed area near the Israel-Lebanon border killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded seven. After the attack, Israel sent helicopters and fired at least 35 artillery shells into Lebanon, according to Lebanese security officials. “We received a message that from their standpoint, the incident is over, but we are, of course, prepared for any development,” Israeli defense minister Moshe Yaalon said on Army Radio. The attack area was quiet Thursday, but Israeli troops remained on high alert.

Source: Reuters, The New York Times


New Greek leader halts privatization plans

Greece’s new prime minister, anti-austerity leader Alexis Tsipras, on Wednesday abruptly ordered a halt to privatization plans called for under the recession-ravaged country’s international bailout. The move was a direct challenge to Greece’s European creditors, whose aid Greece needs to pay its massive public debts. Germany has warned it would not negotiate Greece’s $270 billion bailout package. The clash spooked investors, dragging down financial markets.

Source: Reuters


Malaysia declares airliner’s 2014 disappearance an accident

Malaysia’s Civil Aviation Authority on Thursday formally declared the March 2014 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 an accident. Officials also said none of the 239 passengers and crew survived. The declaration cleared the way for relatives to receive compensation. No trace of the airliner, which was traveling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, has been found despite an international search covering 5,300 square miles in the southern Indian Ocean, where the plane was presumed to have crashed.

Source: BBC News

Affordable Care Act · Obamacare

Disaster Looming For Republicans As Poll Finds 64% Want To Keep Obamacare Subsidies

President Obama | White House Photo


A new Kaiser Health Tracking Poll found that Congressional Republicans are living in a difference universe from most Americans. The poll found that 64% of Americans want to Congress to act to restore ACA subsidies if the Supreme Court rules against the health care law.

Via the Kaiser Family Foundation:


If the Supreme Court rules that financial assistance is only available in states with state-run marketplaces, nearly two-thirds of the public says that Congress should take action so that people in all states can be eligible for financial help to purchase health insurance. Majorities of Democrats and independents say they would support Congressional action while Republicans are more divided. And, although the Supreme Court’s decision would have significant implications for many people in states using the federal exchange, their views are similar to those of people living in states with their own marketplace.

A nightmare scenario for Republicans would unfold if the Supreme Court ruled the ACA subsidies unconstitutional in states that have not set up their own exchanges. Republicans are committed to killing the ACA. Their most ardent supporters want to kill the law. The problem is that nearly two-thirds of the American people want congressional Republicans to act to protect the subsidies if the Supreme Court rules them unconstitutional.

Millions of people will lose their health care if the subsidies go away. The fate of the subsidies would become a big issue in the 2016 presidential election, and the Republicans will be trapped between doing what a majority wants and what their right-wing ideological base wants. A Supreme Court ruling against the subsidies would be a disaster for the Republican Party. If Congressional Republicans refuse to act to restore, the subsidies voters will blame them for the loss of their health care.

The House has announced that they will vote to repeal the ACA next week. Only 32% of those polled in Kaiser poll want the law repealed. Congressional Republicans are completely out of touch with the majority of Americans on the issue of the ACA. If the Supreme Court rules against the subsidies, the conservative justices will be dropping a ticking time bomb into the laps of Republicans.

No matter how the Supreme Court rules, this won’t end well for the GOP.

2016 Hopefuls · Mitt Romney

Romney: Hillary fights for the rich and she’s out of touch with poor Americans, so elect me instead

Mitt Romney | 2012 Campaign

Democratic Underground (via TPM)

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will attack former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the economy and foreign policy during a speech at Mississippi State University on Wednesday night.

According to speech excerpts obtained by NBC, Romney, who has indicated if he decides to run for president again one of the pillars of his campaign would be inequality, will ask “How can Secretary Clinton provide opportunity for all if she doesn’t know where jobs come from in the first place?”

“Short term, our economy is looking up,” Romney plans to say. “But it is a lot better for the few, and pretty darn discouraging for the many. Incomes haven’t gone up in decades.”

Romney’s last presidential campaign in 2008 suffered from repeated attacks related to Romney’s wealth and background as a CEO. One of the lowest points in his campaign came after he said that the 47 percent of the country who depend on government would not vote for him. The moment was caught on video, and circulated widely.




Romney targets Hillary Clinton as he considers presidential bid

(CNN) <…>

Those attacks build on comments his team made earlier Wednesday. As Romney heads to the nation’s poorest state, his political team is fighting back against perceptions that his wealth could be a political liability if he runs for president again, arguing that Clinton is no model for modest living, either.

“It’s going to be hard for Hillary Clinton to make Mitt Romney’s wealth a fruitful line of attack, with her multi-million dollar mansions in Georgetown and Chappaqua and her jet-setting lifestyle of the rich and famous,” a Romney aide said Wednesday.

Cold War Drama

The Americans is the best show on TV. So why isn’t anybody watching it?

Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings in “The Americans.” (Michael Parmelee/FX)


Elizabeth Jennings is not particularly having a good night.

A Soviet spy living in early 1980s Washington DC, as part of an arranged, fake marriage that has somehow become a real one, she begins the second episode of The Americans’ third season having just received a call from her husband, Philip, also a spy, also not having a particularly good night. He needs her help, even though it’s much too late to be requesting such a thing.

Their daughter, Paige, sits on the couch. Unbeknownst to the girl, Paige has become a bargaining chip in her parents’ marriage. The KGB hopes to turn the 14-year-old into a so-called “second generation illegal,” an American citizen who can infiltrate the government at levels far deeper than Philip or Elizabeth could under their assumed identities. Elizabeth believes this is the right course, the cause that could reunite mother and daughter in the tumultuous adolescent years. Philip is dead set against it, believing that if Paige, who’s been raised an American, learns the truth about her parents, her fragile emotions will explode, and who knows what the damage will be?

These are the stakes of every decision Philip and Elizabeth make. No parent wants to see their child emotionally devastated by something said parent has done. But every parent secretly hopes their child will follow in their footsteps, at least a little bit. This emotional fog hangs over every scene, every conversation, every moment of this series.

Paige turns to her mother, having learned that Elizabeth will be joining Philip for another late night. “You guys look out for each other, you and Dad.”

Elizabeth agrees, briefly, before Paige cuts her off again. “More than us,” she says, referring to her and her younger brother.

And it’s true, in some ways. Elizabeth and Philip may love their children, but they also have to keep a crucial distance. The cause, the calling, of Communism will always be there, lurking in the background, casting shadows.

A show nobody watches

Basically nobody watches The Americans. Fewer than 2 million people watched its most viewed episode in season two, and only 1.12 million tuned in for the least-viewed episode. Yes, those numbers more than double when you add in everybody who watches later on DVR and streaming sites, but even if those numbers were to triple, they would still reflect a tiny audience, in terms of the overall television viewing landscape. The series has also struggled in terms of awards nominations, largely ignored by the Emmys in favor of inferior programs like Downton Abbey and House of Cards.

This is the peril of being a great TV show in an era of so many great TV shows. Mad Men andBreaking Bad were lucky, in that they came at the tail end of an era when only a handful of networks were seriously programming good TV. Thus every season could feel like an event.

Now, you have no idea if the next exciting TV drama will be arriving on a channel you’ve never heard of (like Pivot’s upcoming Arctic Circle noir Fortitude) or as an added bonus to your Amazon Prime membership. (Have you caught up with Transparent yet?) As the overall universe of great TV shows expands, the overall universe of great TV shows that people seriously pay attention to paradoxically grows smaller. Not even the best critics of the medium have the time to watch everything anymore, and that means the noisiest shows are the ones that stand out, not quiet little potboilers like The Americans.

Essentially everybody involved in the production of the series knows this, too. At the recently completed Television Critics Association winter press tour, FX Networks president John Landgraf said he thought the show would run at least five seasons, even with its relatively anemic numbers. The network clearly loves the show and thinks it could have a long afterlife in streaming, and it clearly hopes the Emmys will catch on sooner or later.

Read the full article here…