2012 - %3, February

Rove's Haul: $12 Million

| Wed Feb. 1, 2012 10:46 AM EST
Former Bush Adviser Karl Rove.

American Crossroads, the Republican super-PAC started by former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove, pulled in close to $12 million dollars in donations in the second half of 2011, according to Federal Election Commission records filed Tuesday.

The largest donations came from titanium magnate Harold Simmons and his Contran Corporation, which together gave seven million dollars, or more than half of the total. Simmons personally gave American Crossroads $5 million, and Contran Corporation is listed as having given $2 million. Although Simmons has also given $2,500 to Mitt Romney (as well as various small contributions to not-Romneys Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty), until recently his biggest donations this primary season were to the pro-Rick Perry super-PAC Americans for Rick Perry (now Restoring Prosperity), to which Simmons gave $100,000 last June. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Simmons is far and away the biggest donor to super-PACs: He's given $5.6 million, fully two million more than his closest rival, Texas homebuilder Bob Perry.

Only one other donor topped a million dollars in the Crossroads filing: Indiana communications company Whiteco Industries. Other big donors include billionaire Sam Zell, whose mismanagement of the Tribune Company earned him the ire of journalists everwhere. Zell gave American Crossroads $500,000, as did former Interpublic Group head Philip Geier. Kenny Troutt, the CEO of a Texas-based financial firm Mt. Vernon Investments, gave another $500,000. All told, more than three-quarters of Rove's haul came from a small group of very wealthy people.

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Your Daily Newt: Last of the Mohicans and the American Dream

| Wed Feb. 1, 2012 10:38 AM EST
In Last of the Mohicans, British colonialists clash with anti-colonialists, and Daniel Day-Lewis fires two rifles at once.

As a service to our readers, every day we are delivering a classic moment from the political life of Newt Gingrich—until he either clinches the nomination or bows out.

Newt Gingrich's 1995 college class at Reinhardt College in Georgia is noteworthy mostly for being the focal point of the ethics investigation that ultimately ended his reign as speaker of the House. The course, "Renewing American Civilization" was intended to train upwards of 200,000 conservative activists in advance of the 1996 election, but it also gave Gingrich a platform to say literally anything that was on his mind, for two hours at a time, once a week. Needless to say, he took full advantage—praising, at various points, Little House on the Prairie, the futurists Alvin and Heidi Toffler, Boys Town, the Magnificent Seven, and one of his all-time favorite movies: Last of the Mohicans.

The screen adaptation of the James Fenimore Cooper joint, Gingrich explained, captured the very essence of what it means to be an American:

One of my favorite movies is the Last of the Mohicans, which I recommend to all of you. It's a great film about the French and Indian war. Wonderful scene where the American who was the Deerslayer is standing there and the British officer says, "aren't you going to Fort William Henry?" And he says, "No, I'm going to Kentucky." And he says, "How can you go to Kentucky in the middle of a war?" And he says, "You face north, turn left, and walk. It's west of here." It's a very American response. And the officer says, "but you're a British subject and you have to come and fight." And he says, "No, I am an American."

Now, he ends up going to fight. Why? Because of the girl—which is also classically American. It's a very romantic country. It really, historically, is a very romantic country. You can't be American without having romance in your heart. I mean, if you grow up as a cynic, it's very hard to sustain the magic that's American. But part of the conclusion I reached, oh, maybe 22 years ago, reading Daniel Boorstin's work on the Americans, is that as important as the mountain man is—and you remember Jeremiah Johnson, which is a great film, and again, a very useful introduction to a real authentic American—there were very few mountain men. There were very few people who went out on their own in the woods.

We're obliged to point out that Russell Means, who played Chingachgook in Last of the Mohicans, also briefly ran for vice president in 1984 as Hustler publisher Larry Flynt's running mate. Four years later, he pursued the libertarian nomination for president and lost—to Ron Paul.

Occupy Oakland's Black Panther Roots

| Wed Feb. 1, 2012 6:01 AM EST

mark MurmannPhoto by Mark Murmann.On Sunday night, a day after the mass arrest of some 400 Occupy Oakland protesters—and journalists including one of my Mother Jones colleagues—many of those who'd been released met outside City Hall to let off steam. Broadcasting through a speaker in a bicycle trailer, members of Occupy Oakland's Anti-Repression Committee denounced the use of "teargas, rubber bullets, and assault grenades." The crowd chanted, "Fuck the cops!" But anger at those who'd encouraged police violence by throwing rocks, ransacking the inside of City Hall, and burning an American flag was hard to find. A veteran member of Occupy Oakland later told me that proponents of nonviolence had largely quit speaking up at Oakland meetings for fear of being shouted down.

The militancy of Occupy Oakland contrasts sharply with the culture of Occupy Wall Street in New York City, where I was embedded this fall. In the weeks leading up to the occupation of Zuccotti Park in September, experts schooled groups of young people in peaceful protest tactics. Calls to occupy the park invariably stressed nonviolence, and the movement's official "Declaration of Solidarity," adopted later that month, proclaimed that "we have peaceably assembled here." Occupiers took turns waving an American flag on the night of the eviction, and even during the most confrontational demonstrations that followed, enforced a code of restraint. During an effort to shut down the New York Stock Exchange, for example, I saw garbage bags that had been tossed into the street by a few rogue protesters get picked up by other activists and put back on the sidewalk. A young anarchist I was shadowing denounced the incident as "stupid black-block shit," showing his disdain for anarchism's militant wing.

How to Win Florida on $1 Million a Day

| Wed Feb. 1, 2012 6:00 AM EST

In the past 10 days, the pro-Mitt Romney super-PAC Restore Our Future and the pro-Newt Gingrich super-PAC Winning Our future dumped $10.4 million trying to sway Republican voters in the Sunshine State. That's about as much as the total all outside groups had spent at this point in the 2008 election cycle. Where did the money go? MoJo tallied up their spending based on what they'd reported to the Federal Election Commission.

Most of Restore Our Future's spending went to attacking Gingrich. For every dollar spent promoting Romney, the super-PAC spent $25 dragging Gingrich through the mud.

Of the $12 million Winning Our Future has spent so far in this cycle, more than a third left the PAC's coffers in the past week. It spent most of the money talking up Gingrich; only a sliver was dedicated to attacking Romney. 

How did they reach their audience? Restore our Future spent the bulk of their money, $5 million, buying up television and radio spots slamming Gingrich for having "tons of baggage." Since the beginning of January, in Florida alone, Restore our Future has run 3,443 television spots, 1,018 cable ads and 234 radio ads attacking Gingrich.

 

Winning our Future spent $4 million on TV and radio advertising (with at least $1.5 solely on radio).


We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for February 1, 2012

Wed Feb. 1, 2012 5:57 AM EST

A pilot takes the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter up for its first night flight near Edwards Air Force Base, California, on January 18, 2012. (Courtesy photo Tom Reynolds/Lockheed Martin)

Shooting the Messenger, Greek Style

| Wed Feb. 1, 2012 12:28 AM EST

Say what you will about technocrats, but if there's one place where you really do want one it's in your statistical agency. But that hasn't worked out so well for Andreas Georgiou, who was appointed to run the newly established Hellenic Statistical Authority in 2010 after years of egregious misreporting of Greece's official economic figures:

Greece has won strong endorsements in the past year for shoring up its economic statistics after years of fudging data to conceal its deficits and financial mismanagement, but the man who's responsible for restoring the country's reputation is now the target of possible prosecution. He's been accused of exaggerating Greece's deficits in a conspiracy to strengthen the hand of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

....A Greek government official called the case "outrageous." Visiting European Union officials are said to be "speechless" over the dispute. But to an outside observer, the most disconcerting aspect of the case is that Georgiou couldn't name a top political figure who's publicly thrown his support behind him.

....A Greek government official, who said he wasn't authorized to be quoted by name, called the notion of a conspiracy outlandish. "It's as if ELSTAT, Eurostat" — the Luxembourg-based Statistical Office of the European Communities — "the Department of State and the planet Mars conspired to change the deficit numbers so that Greece would have to turn to the IMF for more help," the official said. "It's crazy. It's even crazier that we are devoting part of our time" to responding to the charges.

No good deed goes unpunished, I guess. More here from Felix Salmon on why Greece is doomed.