Last week, the Center for Media and Democracy and The Nation magazine worked together to publish a package in The Nation and a new online wiki resource on Pete Peterson and the Campaign to Fix the Debt, an entity we consider an "astroturf supergroup" with a huge budget working hard to create the fantasy that Americans care more about national debt and deficits than jobs and the economy. Fix the Debt is currently exploiting the "sequester" debate in Congress to encourage steep cuts to incredibly popular social programs like Medicare and Social Security.
For better or worse, a bill passed Congress in the wee hours of 2013 averting the much-hyped "fiscal cliff" for now and raising taxes on couples making over $450,000 and extending a lifeline of unemployment benefits to 2 million Americans.
This morning, a group of students and alumni delivered over 1,000 signatures to University of Wisconsin Foundation President Mike Knetter demanding that the university divest its holdings from the fossil fuel industry.
Tucker Carlson's website, the "Daily Caller," recently posted a story claiming that a Florida state legislator had rebutted a purported claim by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) "drafted" Florida's "Stand Your Ground" (SYG)/"Castle Doctrine" law.
This spring, in coordinated actions across the country, retirees who lost their pensions, families whose homes are underwater, students with impossible debt, the unemployed and underemployed, family farmers, immigrants, vets and more will be knocking on the doors of corporate boardrooms, holding CEOs of major American firms responsible for crashing the economy then turning their backs on their fellow Americans. With hundreds of shareholders on the inside and thousands of folks on the outside, the largest shareholder demonstrations in U.S. history are underway and spreading across the land.
Their goal is nothing short of transformational: to wrest control of our democracy back from the robber barons and CEOs that systematically block any effort to create an economy and a body politic that serves the needs of the vast majority of Americans and not the elite few.
While Mitt Romney came out ahead in New Hampshire, his front-runner status will soon be under the gun by some very deep pockets backing Newt Gingrich.
As previously reported by CMD, over $3 million dollars worth of ads cut by a Super PAC controlled by Mitt Romney's former aides, dropped Gingrich like a stone in Iowa. Gingrich sank from an overconfident front runner, who told ABC's Jake Tapper "I will be the nominee" on December 1, to an embittered candidate who placed fourth in Iowa a short time later.
After ineffectually whining about being totaled by Mitt Romney's "negativity" in the Iowa primary, Newt Gingrich may have decided that revenge is sweeter. A pro-Gingrich Super PAC is preparing to unleash a barrage of negativity on South Carolina voters.
Newt Gingrich's Baggage
The new Super PACs dominating the air wars in Iowa and New Hampshire were unleashed by the Citizens United revision of the First Amendment to allow individuals and corporations to give unlimited amounts of money to influence U.S. elections. Super PAC spending cannot be directly coordinated with a candidate, but provides candidates with an avenue for negative attack ads that they do not have to put their name on. (Numerous groups are calling for amending the Constitution to overturn the decision.)
The most omnipresent ad by the pro-Romney "Restore Our Future" Super PAC led with the line "You know what makes President Obama happy? Newt Gingrich's baggage." It then went on to detail a scorching list of allegations, including that Gingrich was paid $30,000 an hour by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two organizations that "helped cause the financial crisis."
"I've been Romney-boated," Gingrich complained to the press in Iowa, referring to the ad campaign in 2004 launched by the group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, that helped sink presidential candidate John F. Kerry. According to the Campaign Media Analysis Group, 45 percent of all TV ads in Iowa have been attack ads against Gingrich, including this no-hold-barred attack by Ron Paul's campaign. (Note that Paul does not hesitate to put his name right on the ad.)
The pro-Mitt Romney Super PAC massively outspent the candidate's official presidential campaign on advertising, reportedly spending $7 million to the candidate's official $5 million so far. While Romney dodged responsibility for the negative ads, Gingrich put is succinctly: "It's very hard to run $3.5 million of negative ads and pretend it's not yours and not have people think you're being dishonest."
"The Man that Destroyed Us"
Now, a pro-Gingrich Super PAC is getting ready to unleash a world of harm on the Romney campaign. According to the New York Times, billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson has cut a $5 million check to the "Winning Our Future" Super PAC. Adelson has long been a Gingrich supporter.
Winning our Future just released a devastating 30 minute film, When Mitt Romney Came to Town, in advance of the South Carolina primary ten days away. The Super PAC has reserved more than $3.4 million in advertising time in the state to air clips of the movie as ads.
The ads and the film claim that as CEO of Bain Capital, a venture capital firm, Romney bought American businesses simply to shut them down. Romney describes his tenure at Bain as one in which he created "100,000 jobs." But the ad characterizes Romney and Bain "as group of corporate raiders ... more ruthless than Wall Street" and intones, "For tens of thousands of Americans, the suffering began when Mitt Romney came to town." A woman put out of work by Bain, characterizes Romney as "the man who destroyed us," a potent message in a country that currently has 25 million unemployed or underemployed citizens.
Gingrich characterized Romney and Bain as "rich people figuring out clever legal ways to loot a company," but Gingrich of course has his own private equity supporters including Blackstone Group and KKR & Co. according to the Boston Globe.
As for the truth of the matter, an old Bain prospectus obtained by the Los Angeles Timesshows a stunning 88 percent average annual rate of return under Romney's leadership. But did the firm earn this money by creating jobs or destroying them? The Washington Post recently gave Romney three Pinocchios for his unsubstantiated job claims.
Today's teenagers are probably the most savvy generation yet when it comes to filtering out advertising, but that is no worry for junk food and drink companies who steadily deploy stealthier and more sophisticated interactive promotions that specifically target teens and exploit their emotional and developmental vulnerabilities. The newest generation of internet-based junk food promotions uses cutting edge marketing techniques with names like "augmented reality," "virtual environments" and "neuromarketing" -- the use of scientifically-devised digital marketing techniques that trigger teens' subconscious emotional arousal.
Putting aside a laundry list of potential dates, calculations and concerns, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin announced last week that they will be joining with community groups to launch a campaign to recall the state's governor, Scott Walker. With a corruption scandal brewing behind the scenes, political activists decided there was no better time than now.
Hurdles for those wishing to recall Walker are high.
On Monday, September 12, Brad Hooker of the Center for Responsive Politics' Open Secrets blog posted an exposé of the money that the corporate members of ALEC's "Private Enterprise" Board (including AT&T, Exxon Mobil, Kraft, Coca-Cola and Koch Industries) spent to lobby Washington and fill the campaign chests of ALEC alumni in Congress (as well as other Congressmembers). ALEC alumnusJohn Boehner received the most from ALEC Board corporations, a total of "$368,200 from the people and political action committees associated with the companies on ALEC's private enterprise board during the 2010 election cycle." Second place goes to another ALEC alumnus, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who has been introducing ALEC's agenda to the House. He collected "$328,100 from people and PACs associated with 17 companies on the ALEC private enterprise board."