Posts by Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps
- Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players19 days ago
Oil is complicated business.
A new documentary juxtaposes the story of a U.S. oil company in its venture to reap profit from an oil field it discovered off the coast of Ghana with the tale of Nigeria’s deeply corrupt oil industry. In telling the story, “Big Men” director Rachel Boynton takes her audience from the boardroom negotiations of U.S.-based Kosmos Energy to the boats of militant groups in Nigeria, as they try to claim a piece of the Niger Delta’s vast petroleum riches.
“It isn't just outright condemning the oil companies and I'm not saying they're saints either but it is portraying a complicated situation,” Boynton told “Top Line.”
Obtaining access to Kosmos Energy, Boynton said, was the most challenging hurdle in creating the film.
“Oil companies are not known for opening up their doors and inviting in independent filmmakers,” she said, explaining that she ultimately gained the confidence of the company’s executive Brian Maxted.
- Power Players2 mths ago
During the second half of the 20 th century, in an era when newspapers reigned supreme, political satire cartoonist Herbert Block was a force to be reckoned with; and the new HBO documentary, “Herblock: The Black & The White,” tells the story behind his legendary work.
“He really was the kind of founder in political satire and part of it was that he was a terrific reporter and was really interested in facts and with that, he had this kind of startling and occasionally scathing humor and he could draw,” Producer George Stevens told “Top Line.”
The pioneering cartoonist, who worked for the Washington Post and had his cartoons syndicated in newspapers across the United States for over 50 years commanded so much respect, Stevens said, that political leaders would pick up their morning newspapers and “just hope it’s not Herb working on you.”
His most famous targets were Sen. Joseph McCarthy, for whom Block coined the term “McCarthyism,” and Richard Nixon, whose 5 o’clock shadow became a characteristic exaggeration in Block’s depictions.
- Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players2 mths ago
Gay political activist Jimmy LaSalvia is having a loud and public breakup with the GOP.
Before announcing last week that he is leaving the Republican Party to become an independent –pointing to “tolerance of bigotry” within the GOP in his parting blog post – LaSalvia was a veteran GOP operative and activist, known for co-founding the conservative gay rights group GOProud.
LaSalvia sat down with “Top Line” to discuss his dramatic departure and explained that he has “no hope for the Republican Party.”
“No matter how good your autopsy … the changes the Republican Party is implementing really amount to nothing more than lipstick on a pig,” he said. “It was the Romney campaign that really got me to understand just how severe the problem is. … It's a culture of intolerance that I don't think any amount of messaging or policy changes can fix.”
Though LaSalvia still identifies as a conservative, he said he believes that the GOP is “out of touch with life in America today” and has consequently been rendered useless as a political party.
- Power Players3 mths ago
Do the Democrats have a chance of taking back the House in 2014?
As the midterm elections map begins to take shape, “Top Line” sat down with two political minds from opposing parties to get their predictions for the year ahead in politics: Former Texas Rep. Martin Frost, who chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and former New York Rep. Thomas Reynolds, who chaired the National Republican Congressional Committee.
“No,” Frost replied when asked if this is the year the Democrats take back the House of Representatives.
Both former congressmen offered advice for the candidates of their respective parties now revving up campaign efforts.
Reynolds expects the midterms to be largely a referendum on the Obama administration, but, in agreement with Frost, cautioned Republicans from planning to simply “ride the Obamacare horse the entire year.”
“I think you ride it for as long as you can ride it,” Reynolds said. “And if it subsides, they better be on some new issues on what their agenda's about; and if not, they can continue to ride it.”
Frost, meanwhile, advised Democrats to avoid overly associating themselves with President Obama.
- Power Players3 mths ago
This year might be more memorable politically for everything that didn’t happen than what did, but that didn’t stop comedian Mark Eaton from having some fun with the most memorable political ads.
Eaton, a member of the D.C. political satire group “Capitol Steps,” weighed in on our Top 5 favorite ads of 2013 in this special year-end edition of “Top Line.”
1. New York Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio’s ad featuring his son, Dante
In the crowded New York mayoral race, this ad helped de Blasio stand out by saying something the candidate couldn’t say himself. The ad starts out with a young African-American teenager talking about why he supports the white de Blasio, and, by the end, viewers learn that the young man, Dante, is de Blasio’s son.
Eaton had some fun with the ad, joking about the distractive pull of Dante’s recognizable hairstyle.
“I think the first time you see if you don’t even hear what he’s saying because of that afro,” Eaton said. “That’s 70s ABA [American Basketball Association] Afro going on there, but I guess after the first time you see it, the punch line is out there that this is his dad.”
- Power Players4 mths ago
The political director of a prominent Tea Party Super PAC predicts that “big punches” will be thrown within the GOP as groups like his gear up for primary challenges in the 2014 midterm elections against Republicans whom they view as not conservative enough.
“I think the 2014 primary cycle is going to be unlike anything that we've seen,” said the Madison Project’s Drew Ryun. “This is going to be the equivalent of a bar room brawl.”
The Republican establishment, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is going head-to-head with the Madison Project in several of the races where the Super PAC is working to replace the incumbent. But Ryun told “Top Line” they were ready for the fight.
“I think it's going to come down to a battle of tactics,” Ryun said. “They're going to have more money; we're going to have more people. And, basically, who employs the best tactics is going to come out on top of these primaries.”
- Power Players4 mths ago
Democratic strategist Al From says the problems with the government’s new online health insurance market threaten to undermine the Democratic Party’s case for government.
“It sure makes it a lot harder for people to support new government initiatives,” said From, who is largely credited with shaping Bill Clinton’s successful presidential campaign in 1992. “And if it doesn't work, then good intentions are not enough.”
With the Obama administration now touting improvements to HealthCare.gov after a fumbled rollout two months ago, From told “Top Line” that getting the program back on track should be a top priority.
“It is critically important that President Obama get this program working and working well,” From said. “It is incumbent on liberals, on Democrats, on progressives, to make sure government works, because government is our agent for helping people help themselves and each other.”
As of Sunday, the Obama administration said that HealthCare.gov is working more than 90 percent of the time – up from just over 40 percent in October.
Newt Gingrich was famously ridiculed during his 2012 presidential campaign for declaring that he would work toward establishing a colony on the moon if he were elected president.
But the former Republican presidential candidate and Speaker of House is still dreaming about space exploration and told “Top Line” he would like to travel to space, “if I get the chance.”
“This is a good example of what's wrong with the current political system,” Gingrich said. “I gave a serious speech in Florida at the Space Coast outlining a very bold strategy. … I got savaged by two of my competitors, Romney and Santorum, who deliberately distorted the speech. I got ridiculed by ‘Saturday Night Live.’”
Gingrich, who now hosts a show on CNN, writes in his newest book “Breakout” that Washington is a city full of “prison guards of the past,” who are slowing the pace of innovation in fields like space exploration.
He specifically calls for redirecting government funding from NASA to the private sector, where he believes projects can be more efficiently funded and implemented.
Sen. John McCain says his daughter Meghan can be a “giant pain in the ass.”
But the 29-year-old daughter of the Arizona Republican is laughing off her father’s comment, which he makes in jest during an interview with Meghan in an upcoming episode of her new reality show, “Raising McCain.”
“I feel like McCains are pains in the asses!” McCain told “Top Line.”
McCain, who first rose to prominence by keeping a blog during her father’s 2008 presidential campaign, said that she and her father are both working through a shared frustration with the current state of the GOP.
“We’re both frustrated with the idea that only the hyper-conservative wing of the party is going to represent the masses,” said McCain, who later added that “Republicans are giving young people no reason to join their party right now.”
McCain said the emotional toll of her father’s frustration rivals the disappointment he experienced after losing the 2008 election.
When it comes to breaking through political stalemates on Capitol Hill, Debbie Wasserman Schultz says that women are making the difference.
“Women are so often consensus builders,” Wasserman Schultz told “Top Line.” “We’re much more focused on getting to yes, rather than obliterating our opponents on the other side.”
In the aftermath of the 16 day government shutdown, the Florida congresswoman and chair of the Democratic National Committee warned that more political crises are unavoidable unless elected officials take “personal responsibility” in building trust across the partisan divide.
“If members don’t personally make that effort at reaching across the aisle, then I think it’s almost unavoidable,” she said. “I don’t think the intensity of the Tea Party has lessened any from this experience.”
As part of her own personal effort to get to know Republicans better, the congresswoman said that she and Rep. Dan Webster, R – Fla., now get together regularly for dinner.