The Republican Governors Association recently launched an attack ad in Pennsylvania, criticizing Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D) for supporting this year's farm bill in Congress. There was, however, a small problem: incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett (R), the candidate the ad was intended to help, endorsed the same legislation.
This week, the RGA ran into a similar problem in South Carolina. Sean Sullivan and Aaron Blake reported:
A new ad from the Republican Governors Association attacks the Democrat running for governor of South Carolina for supporting Obamacare, as well as its Medicaid expansion.
Left unsaid? Several GOP governors took that same Medicaid expansion, including ... RGA Chairman and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R).
It's at least rational when one party blasts the other over genuine disagreements. But the RGA is playing some fairly transparent games.
In South Carolina, we're effectively left with a situation in which the Republican Governors Association wants voters to oppose a Democrat for agreeing with the head of the Republican Governors Association (and several other prominent RGA members).
From the RGA's perspective, it's probably worth the risk. South Carolinians, the argument goes, probably won't know the whole story, and will have no idea the Democratic candidate agrees with so many Republicans on the issue.
But what does that say about the merit of Republican arguments, if they're dependent on public ignorance to work?
A week ago, the U.S. Senate race in Colorado didn't look especially interesting. Sen. Mark Udall (D) was likely to take on Ken Buck (R); the incumbent senator was likely to win; and the candidate Republicans recruited for the race, Rep. Cory Gardner (R), said he wasn't interested.
A week later, Gardner has changed his mind; Buck is now running for the House in Gardner's Republican-friendly district; and Colorado will apparently have a competitive race after all.
In a rousing speech inside a Denver lumber warehouse, Republican Congressman Cory Gardner officially announced his candidacy Saturday for the U.S. Senate, vowing to bring a battle against Democrat Sen. Mark Udall.
"Today, we begin a nine-month fight for the future of our country. And don't let anyone say otherwise -- this fight is about the future, for our families, children and grandchildren," Gardner said.
At a minimum, Gardner's entrance changes how people perceive the Senate race in Colorado. Once it became clear the congressman would run after having said he wouldn't, and Democratic control of the Senate is on the line, Dave Weigel wrote, "Democrats: Panic!"
But in Gardner's case, it's hard not to wonder how seriously to take the hype seriously. When I searched Google this morning for "Cory Gardner" and "rising star," I saw 43,700 results -- which suggests the phrasing comes up quite a bit.
About six months ago, the Obama administration was very close to launching missile strikes in Syria, following the Assad government's apparent use of chemical weapons. Russian President Vladimir Putin, an Assad ally and benefactor, took the unusual step of writing an op-ed in the New York Times.
The headline read, "A Plea for Caution From Russia," and a half-year later, it's interesting to read it again with a fresh perspective, given recent events in Ukraine.
[W]e were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal international organization -- the United Nations -- was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again.
Sure, Vladimir, tell us again how important it is to celebrate the United Nations as the bedrock for global stability seems a little ironic.
The United Nations' founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus.... The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades.
No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization.
From the outset, Russia has advocated peaceful dialogue enabling Syrians to develop a compromise plan for their own future. We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law.
It appears Putin's interest in peaceful dialogue and international law isn't quite what it was in September.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) appeared on "Fox News Sunday" yesterday, raising a compelling suggestion about domestic politics in the context of the Ukrainian crisis.
"We're 48 hours from an international crisis, I would hope Americans would focus on condemning the actions of Putin rather than in a knee-jerk way, again, criticizing the president of the United States," the congressman said.
What a nice, wholly unrealistic attitude.
Americans have seen our share of international crises involving Russia. What's unusual about this one, at least from a domestic political perspective, is that we now see prominent Republican officials publicly expressing admiration for Russian leadership.
The Ukraine crisis is just the latest example of President Barack Obama being outmaneuvered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said Sunday.
"Putin is playing chess and I think we are playing marbles, and I don't think it's even close" the Michigan Republican said on "Fox News Sunday." "They've been running circles around us." [...]
"And, by the way, the big one that started this was the absolute retreat on our missile defense system in Poland and Czechoslovakia."
First, Czechoslovakia hasn't actually been a country for the last couple of decades. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee should probably know that.
Second, remember all the prominent Democrats praising Putin's strategic acumen over the Bush/Cheney administration when Russia went to war with Georgia in 2008? All the Dems who hit the Sunday shows to say Putin is "running circles around us"? No? That's probably because it never happened. Indeed, if it had, the praise likely would have become a controversy unto itself.
And third, Rogers is impressed with Putin for reasons that don't make any sense.
Secretary of State John Kerry appeared on CBS's "Face the Nation" yesterday, condemning Russia's invasion of Ukrainian territory. The following excerpt stood out:
"Well, it's an incredible act of aggression. It is really a stunning, willful choice by President Putin to invade another country. Russia is in violation of the sovereignty of Ukraine. Russia is in violation of its international obligations. Russia is in violation of its obligations under the U.N. charter, under the Helsinki final act. It's in violation of its obligations under the 1994 Budapest agreement.
"You just don't, in the 21st Century, behave in 19th Century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped-up pretext."
All of this is true, of course. It's easy to imagine, however, how some around the world blink, at least a little, hearing a U.S. leader make comments like these after we invaded another country on completely trumped-up pretext.
Regardless, Kerry is doing far more than just appearing on Sunday shows. The Secretary of State will travel to Kiev tonight to meet with Ukrainian officials about the crisis. What's more, Peter Baker reports that President Obama has begun working the phone from the Oval Office, rallying allies and approving "a series of diplomatic and economic moves intended to 'make it hurt,' as one administration official put it."
If Russian President Vladimir Putin expects the West to be at all divided during the crisis, he's likely to be disappointed.
Sec. of State Kerry heads to the Ukraine as Pres. Obama works to rein in Russia. (NY Times) NC coal-ash spill shows how watchdog agency was defanged. (NY Times) A look at NC Gov. McCrory's career at Duke Energy. (Winston-Salem Journal) Top Christie appointees at the Port Authority devised toll-hike plan to bolster image of NJ, NY governors. (Bergen Record) read more
The oldest piece of the Earth to date has been located, and it's in Western Australia. It's a fragment of a crystal in a fragment of a rock: a zircon, to be precise.
Earth's crust is full of zircons, which form when magma is forced to the surface and cools. They have such a high melting temperature that even if they are subducted, they usually don't remelt and are often incorporated into newer rocks once they surface again. The zircons in question, in Australia, have most likely been through the magma cycle a few times. However, geologists can tease apart individual fragments of a given rock, dating each one with various techniques, including individual zircon crystals.
In 2001, a team dated a zircon found in the Jack Hills at 4.4 billion years old, using radiometric dating based on the decay of uranium isotopes into lead. The result shocked a lot of people who had theorized that the Earth was still far too hot for rocks to form that soon after the formation of the Solar System (4.5 billion years ago), and so like all good scientists, they continued to analyze their data. Now they've confirmed the original dating, which means Earth did indeed cool off a mere 100 million years after it formed. It follows, then, that liquid water could not have been too far behind, and with it, life.
First up from the God Machine this week is an update on a creationist effort to build a giant version of Noah's Ark in Kentucky, which is suddenly back on track following a very high-profile event.
Creation Museum Founder Ken Ham, who leads a creationist-focused ministry called Answers in Genesis, recently debated scientist Bill Nye on evolutionary biology. It apparently had an unintended consequence.
Creation Museum founder Ken Ham announced Thursday that a municipal bond offering has raised enough money to begin construction on the Ark Encounter project, estimated to cost about $73 million. Groundbreaking is planned for May and the ark is expected to be finished by the summer of 2016.
Ham said a high-profile evolution debate he had with "Science Guy" Bill Nye on Feb. 4 helped boost support for the project.
Nye said he was "heartbroken and sickened for the Commonwealth of Kentucky" after learning that the project would move forward. He said the ark would eventually draw more attention to the beliefs of Ham's ministry, which preaches that the Bible's creation story is a true account, and as a result, "voters and taxpayers in Kentucky will eventually see that this is not in their best interest."
We've been keeping a close eye on developments in Arkansas, where Medicaid expansion was embraced last year with bipartisan support, bringing coverage to about 100,000 low-income Arkansans, but where the policy is now in severe jeopardy, thanks to opposition from far-right state House lawmakers.
But of particular interest is one specific member of the Arkansas state House, Republican Josh Miller, who was severely injured in a car accident several years ago, and who benefited directly from Medicaid.
That's right, one of GOP lawmakers trying to end Medicaid expansion is himself a Medicaid beneficiary.
Some of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) allies occasionally try to downplay the significance of the bridge scandal. Sure, the argument goes, the governor's team, acting in the governor's name, used their power as a weapon to punish the governor's constituents, crippling a community for days for reasons we still don't know. But what's a little traffic?
Newly released 911 and police radio tapes reveal that on the first morning of the controversial George Washington Bridge lane closures last year, officers and emergency responders in Fort Lee were grappling with city-wide traffic gridlock.
At 8:52 a.m. on Sept. 9, a dispatcher warned paramedics leaving a hospital about coming to the Bergen County borough.
"Fort Lee traffic is a nightmare," the dispatcher said.... At 9:02 a.m., a police officer was trying to help an ambulance plot ways to avoid inbound traffic.
"Do you have a medical unit dispatched?" the officer asked a dispatcher. "The GW Bridge is totally gridlocked." Four minutes later, another officer complained of heavy traffic.
The above clip is from American Bridge, which created a website called BridgegateTapes.com, where a series of "highlights" from the recordings are now available to the public.