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House GOP Leader Offers Defense Of Deleted Anti-Semitic Tweet

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is trying to defend a tweet he wrote during last year’s midterms, which was widely condemned for perpetuating an anti-Semitic stereotype.

McCarthy’s tweet accused George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, and Tom Steyer of trying to “BUY this election!” Soros and Bloomberg are both Jewish. (Steyer, whose father was Jewish, is often misidentified in the media as Jewish.)

McCarthy’s defense comes as he has been leading a campaign against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) for comments she made about the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a pro-Israel lobbying group, which some have criticized as also anti-Semitic.

In an interview with Fox News Wednesday, McCarthy insisted that his tweet of Oct. 24, 2018, which he subsequently deleted amid massive outrage, “had nothing to do about faith.”

“That was about Republicans versus Democrats,” McCarthy said. “Michael Bloomberg put in $54 million dollars into the campaign just in the last couple weeks in 24 districts. All I was pointing out was, money that Republicans and Democrats were spending to defeat one another.”

McCarthy then offered a bizarre non sequitur to defend himself, saying that “one of the greatest joys” of his job is leading a trip to Israel.

“This had nothing to do about faith,” he concluded. “This had to do about party and a campaign.”

McCarthy never explained — nor was he asked by Fox host Harris Faulkner — why he deleted his October tweet after it was so widely criticized for being anti-Semitic.

Omar, unlike McCarthy, apologized for her tweets, but Republicans — including Mike Pence and Trump — are trying to gain a political advantage from the incident.

The double standard Republicans are trying to apply to Omar is reminding the country that Republicans were happy to campaign on anti-Semitism.

McCarthy’s October tweet came at the same time that National Republican Congressional Committee, the party’s campaign arm, released an ad targeting Soros, referencing well-worn anti-Jewish tropes, showing Soros sitting behind piles of money.

Even after a mass shooter, who believed similar conspiracy theories about Soros, attacked and killed innocent people worshipping in a Pittsburgh synagogue, the NRCC defended the ad as “factual.”

In 2016, Trump’s campaign repeatedly associated itself with anti-Semitism. Trump tweeted a picture of Hillary Clinton with piles of money and a Jewish star, attacking her as “corrupt.”

An ad from his campaign showed images of Soros alongside other prominent Jews as the voiceover from Trump warned about “global special interests.”

His campaign even had its surrogates appear on a radio show with a neo-Nazi and Holocaust denier.

McCarthy, who was House majority leader at the time, never condemned or spoke out against Trump’s incidents of anti-Semitism.

Now he’s attacking Omar and demanding serious consequences for her tweets, while ignoring the anti-Semitism in his own party and offering incredible rationalizations for his own flirtation with anti-Semitism.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

Billionaire Green Activist Steyer Vows To Battle Trump, Says Money Not An Issue

BOSTON (Reuters) – Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer, who has spent more than $140 million on fighting climate change, said on Tuesday he will spend whatever it takes to fight President-elect Donald Trump’s pro-drilling and anti-regulation agenda.

The former hedge fund manager from California is putting together a strategy that will “engage voters and citizens to fight back” once Trump takes the White House in January, he told Reuters in an interview. However, he stressed he was not planning to fight Trump through the courts.

Instead, he would focus on “trying to present an opposite point of view and trying to get that point of view expressed, and communicated to citizens.”

Steyer’s pledge to fight Trump suggests an intensifying battle for U.S. public opinion on global climate change, an issue that has already divided many Americans, lawmakers, and companies between those who consider it a major global threat and those who doubt its existence.

Other U.S. environmental groups are also preparing to resist Trump’s agenda, with some vowing street protests and more established organizations that helped draft some of President Barack Obama’s environmental regulations preparing to defend them in court.

“We have always been willing to do whatever is necessary,” Steyer said, when asked how much money he was willing to spend to oppose Trump’s agenda.

Trump campaigned on a promise to drastically reduce environmental regulation and ease permitting for infrastructure, moves he said would breathe life into an oil and gas industry ailing from low prices, without harming U.S. air and water quality.

He has also called climate change a hoax and has promised to “cancel” the Paris Climate Accord between nearly 200 nations to slow global warming, a deal he said would cost the U.S. economy trillions of dollars and put it at a disadvantage.

While the approach has cheered the industry, it has sent shockwaves through the environmental movement, which is confronting the prospect of losing all progress it made during the Obama administration.

Steyer, who had endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, called Trump’s policies dangerous.

“Every single one of these things, whether it was getting rid of Paris or cutting back the EPA, we think are extremely dangerous to the security of every American,” Steyer said. “We think it is based on willful ignorance of the facts and flies in the face of the realities facing the world.”

ARCTIC DRILLING

Steyer’s main political vehicle, NextGen Climate, on Tuesday called on the Obama administration to defy Trump’s pro-drilling agenda by issuing an order permanently blocking all new drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump has also promised to ask Canadian oil pipeline company, TransCanada Corp, to resubmit its application to build a pipeline into the United States that would link Alberta’s vast oil sands to American refineries and ports on the Gulf Coast. The project, Keystone XL, had been rejected by the Obama administration after years of mass protests and lobbying by environmental organizations.

Steyer said the project may no longer make sense since a slump in oil prices has reduced the profitability of oil sands production.

Steyer, who four years ago left the hedge fund firm he co-founded to devote himself full-time to environmental activism, said young voter turnout in areas where NextGen focused its mobilization efforts during the 2016 campaign was up more than 20 percent from the last presidential election in 2012.

“Did we get the president we want, absolutely not. Did we get a majority of clean energy supporters in the senate, no,” Steyer said. “But in terms of what we did, and the strategy we took, we wouldn’t do anything differently.”

NextGen poured nearly $69 million into its elections related programs during the presidential campaign, according to federal records compiled by OpenSecrets.org, slightly lower than the $74 million it spent during the mid-term congressional elections in 2014, when only two of the six candidates it supported won.

(Reporting by Richard Valdmanis, editing by Ross Colvin)

IMAGE: Investor, philanthropist and environmentalist Tom Steyer speaks at the Center for American Progress’ 2014 Making Progress Policy Conference in Washington November 19, 2014. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

When Activists Run For Office

By Nathan L. Gonzales, CQ-Roll Call (TNS)

WASHINGTON — Spending time, energy and money on campaigns is one thing. But some political activists go a step further, contemplating whether to become a candidate themselves.

California could see two such cases in the next few years, with environmentalist Tom Steyer and Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas potentially finding themselves in position to run for office.

But a national profile doesn’t automatically translate into local support.

Steyer spent more than $75 million, mostly through his super PAC NextGen Climate Action, trying to influence the outcome of the midterm elections. When Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) announced her decision last month not to seek re-election in 2016, Steyer considered but ultimately declined the opportunity to run for an open seat.

But that doesn’t mean he won’t eventually take the leap.

“My decision about whether to engage from the outside or seek elected office came down to a single question: How best can I fight for a level playing field at this point?” Steyer wrote on The Huffington Post’s website. “Given the imperative of electing a Democratic president — along with my passion for our state — I believe my work right now should not be in our nation’s capitol but here at home in California, and in states around the country where we can make a difference.”

He will get another opportunity in 2018, when Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown will be term-limited, again. But another liberal activist may get a shot at the campaign trail before then.

Moulitsas started the Daily Kos blog in 2002, and grew it to a prominent voice on the left. Daily Kos has endorsed more than 150 different candidates over the past six cycles.

If and when Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee vacates her Northern California seat, Moulitsas, a Berkeley resident, will have an opportunity to run for the 13th District. Lee has been mentioned as a potential ambassador to Cuba.

Moulitsas described Lee as a “great congresswoman” to The New York Times and told the paper, “My goal in life is to promote progressive values and policies. How I accomplish that goal is always changing, and it will keep changing in large part based on the opportunities before me.”

Of course, running as a Democrat in a Democratic district or state is a different calculation than the one Stephanie Schriock faced last cycle.

When Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) announced his decision not to seek re-election, Democrats searched for an alternative. Schriock, who was raised in Montana and managed Senator Jon Tester’s successful campaign in 2006 for the state’s other seat, looked like a natural option. As president of EMILY’s List, Schriock was experienced in recruiting and backing abortion-rights-supporting Democratic women for offices across the country, as well as raising money and discussing issues — but she declined to run.

“Montana raised me, and it will always be my heart,” Schriock said in a statement at the time. “I would love to say yes, but this is not the right time. There is so much work to be done all over the country fighting on behalf of women and standing up against a concerted effort to roll back the clock on our freedoms and opportunities.”

Passing on the race was probably the right political move. Then-Rep. Steve Daines easily defeated his Democratic opponent, 58 percent to 40 percent, in a very good year for Republicans.

Some activists have taken the plunge, and it hasn’t turned out well.

In 2006, former Christian Coalition Executive Director Ralph Reed ran for lieutenant governor of Georgia. He lost in the Republican primary, 56 percent to 44 percent, to Casey Cagle.

Howard Phillips was a national conservative leader of a previous era. After serving in President Richard M. Nixon’s administration, he left the Republican Party and founded the influential Conservative Caucus in 1974. Phillips ran for the Senate as a Democrat in Massachusetts in 1978 and finished a distant fourth in the primary. Phillips also ran for president as a third-party candidate in 1992, 1996 and 2000.

Photo: Fortune Live Media via Flickr

Environmentalist Tom Steyer Opts Out Of Senate Race In California

By Michael Finnegan and Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

LOS ANGELES — Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer announced Thursday that he has decided not to run for the U.S. Senate, saying he believes he should stay focused on his work fighting climate change in California and across the nation.

“This was a very hard decision,” Steyer wrote on the Huffington Post website. ” … Given the imperative of electing a Democratic president, along with my passion for our state, I believe my work right now should not be in our nation’s capital but here — at home in California, and in states around the country where change is on the move.”

His decision leaves state Attorney General Kamala D. Harris as the only major candidate in the June 2016 primary for the seat being vacated by Sen. Barbara Boxer — at least for now. Those seriously exploring a run include former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and several members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Steyer, who spent more than $74 million of his own money on Senate and gubernatorial contests in 2014, pledged to remain involved in politics.

“Going forward, I intend to redouble my efforts working with partners and fellow citizens to push for change,” Steyer wrote. “The road we take may be less traveled and less well-marked, but I am very determined. The journey is far from over — in fact, it has just begun.”

A source close to the former hedge fund manager said that President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address earlier this week was a “tipping point,” and that Steyer compared it with Gov. Jerry Brown’s State of the State speech earlier this month.

Steyer came away from those two speeches believing that the ability to fight climate change is challenging given the makeup of Congress, the source said. Additionally, the source said, he believes that there is great opportunity to effect change in California given the political climate in the state.

Steyer still plans to focus on the other problems he highlighted as part of a potential platform — economic inequality and education access — potentially through ballot propositions, expansion of community development banks and other initiatives.

Steyer is almost certain to run for elected office in the future, possibly for governor in 2018, the source said.

Steyer would have been the latest in a long line of wealthy Californians who tried to enter public office at a top level, skipping the typical upward progression from lower-ranking jobs.

History suggests his risk of failing would have been high: business executives Meg Whitman, Bill Simon and Al Checchi lost gubernatorial races, and Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive at Hewlett-Packard, was trounced by Boxer in 2010.

A Yale University graduate with an MBA from Stanford University, Steyer was the founder of Farallon Capital Management, the San Francisco hedge fund that made him a billionaire.

In politics, Steyer’s main focus has been the environment. His political organization, NextGen Climate Action, is a key player in Democratic politics on the issue climate change.

In 2012, Steyer spent more than $21 million to help pass a ballot measure that closed a corporate tax loophole and provided hundreds of millions of dollars for environmental programs. Last year, Steyer spent $74 million on campaigns across the nation for candidates who vowed to work against global warming.

That spending made Steyer a political target for oil and gas companies, and for the Republican Party at large. In effect, he became a Democratic version of the Koch brothers, the billionaire industrialists who serve as top Republican benefactors.

A large chunk of Steyer’s wealth stems from investments in fossil fuels, which has led critics to accuse him of hypocrisy. His oil, gas and coal holdings, which he has been gradually shedding, could have caused him trouble in the Senate primary.

People close to Steyer told reporters that his campaign agenda would have focused on climate change, education and an overhaul of the tax system, with a pledge to serve only one term if he failed to achieve his goals.

Photo: Fortune Live Media via Flickr