By Doug Porter
Forgive me if I don’t seem all that excited about SeaWorld CEO Joe Manby’s admission about SeaWorld employees posing as animal rights activists in order to spy on opponents. And their promise not to do it anymore.
We already knew about Paul T. McCombe, using the alias Thomas Jones, the guy who was fond of inflammatory rhetoric and tried to incite PETA activists to violence. His activities and the high probability that more of his ilk were lurking in the shadows was reported in the Union-Tribune in the summer of 2015.
The company’s statement was given at the end of a conference call to discuss an earnings report. The press has largely taken the bait reporting on this disclosure over the real news, namely that SeaWorld had just posted an adjusted loss of $9.6 million, or 11 cents per share.
Wall Street wasn’t fooled by the ‘news’–from Business Insider:
Shares of SeaWorld were crashing on Thursday morning, falling as much as 9% after the company announced a weak outlook for the first quarter.
The troubled theme park company said in its earnings press release that it intended to give full year 2016 guidance after the first quarter, but according to a report from the Orlando Sentinel during the its earnings call the company characterized first quarter attendance as “soft.”
This is another setback for a company that has been dogged for the past few years by concerns over treatment of its signature orca whales, stemming from a CNN documentary “Blackfish” and peaking after pop singer Harry Styles of boy band One Direction called for a boycott of SeaWorld parks.
About That Spying: We Promise No More
Here are three more nuggets from this morning’s conference call, via Buzzfeed:
“Our board of directors,” Manby said, “have directed management to end the practice in which certain employees pose as animal rights activists. This activity was undertaken in connection with efforts to maintain the safety and security of employees, customers, and animals in the face of credible threats.” A SeaWorld spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment….
…Manby said that “all personnel matters pertaining to those involved had been handled internally” and that McComb “remains an employee of SeaWorld and has returned to work at SeaWorld in a different department and is no longer on administrative leave…”
…SeaWorld said that its sales and administrative expenses had gone up this year thanks to consulting fees and “an increase in marketing costs associated with the company’s reputation campaign and an increase in legal fees when compared to the prior year.”
You Break It, You Bought It: Trump to Front GOP in November
A billionaire celebrity with orange skin and bad hair has capitalized on years of propaganda and is now poised to be the Republican nominee for President of the United States.
Donald Trump is not the candidate of the GOP donor class. In fact, he’s responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars being wasted on a conservative battle plan to consolidate control of the legislative branch and install a friendly face in the executive branch.
As Noam Chomsky (and others) have noted, the success of Trump’s candidacy is directly attributable to socioeconomic fears.
Chomsky compared the political environment that’s allowed Trump to flourish to the 1930s, when the U.S. was in the Great Depression. “Objectively, poverty and suffering were far greater,” Chomsky said. “But even among poor working people and the unemployed, there was a sense of hope that is lacking now, in large part because of the growth of a militant labor movement and also the existence of political organizations outside the mainstream.”
Trump and Hillary Clinton are leading in their respective primaries, but Chomsky demurred when asked who he thought would win the White House.
“I can express hopes and fears, but not predictions,” he said.
David Corn at Mother Jones goes with the ‘you reap what you sow” line of thinking:
Whether possible or not to de-Trumpify the GOP at this point, Republican insiders, pooh-bahs, and bigwigs only have themselves to blame for Frankentrump. In recent years, they have fomented, fostered, accepted, and exploited the climate of hate in which Trump’s candidacy has taken root. For the fat-cat donors, special-interest lobbyists, and elected officials who usually run the Republican show, Trump is an invasive species. But he has grown large and strong in the manure they have spread across the political landscape.
A Last Ditch Effort
As David Wasserman at FiveThirtyEight.com points out, Trump’s early victories and current polling point to the near-impossibility of winning a majority of delegates by Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. John Kasich and Dr. Ben Carson.
Cruz may win in his home state of Texas, but there’s little else in the way of encouragement in other March primary polling.
Prior to March 14, delegates will be awarded proportionally. Starting March 15, states will be allowed to award delegates on a winner-take-all basis. Florida, Illinois, Missouri, and Ohio, with a combined 292 delegates, are among the states or territories with contests on the very day winner-take-all begins.
Republican rules for awarding delegates provide an small window of opportunity for Sen. Marco Rubio, even though he’s likely to lose to Trump in his home state’s primary:
Republicans in Democratic-leaning and highly educated states and districts, which tend to vote later in the calendar, have historically been more willing than those in red zones to support mainstream candidates like Rubio. And, there are tremendous payoffs for candidates who can consolidate support among “blue zone Republicans.” Under RNC rules, Republican voters in heavily Democratic districts (like Nancy Pelosi’s in San Francisco) select just as many delegates as those in heavily Republican districts (like Kevin McCarthy’s in Bakersfield), making their individual votes more valuable. What’s more, a higher share of GOP primaries in blue and highly educated states and districts are of the more valuable winner-take-all variety…
…Just imagine a convoluted scenario in which Trump winds up with fewer delegates than Rubio despite having won the most votes heading into a contested convention, while Cruz and Kasich delegates are the ultimate arbiters of the nomination on a second or third ballot. Cue an angry press conference at which a red-faced Trump accuses the Republican National Committee of fixing the rules against him and thwarting the will of GOP voters. But the RNC’s rules predate Trump’s rise, and they may be party leaders’ only hope of averting a likely Trump shipwreck in November.
No One Can Control Him
The GOP leadership seems resigned to a Trump victory. National Committee chairman Reince Priebus is making the rounds, reassuring nervous party leaders.
Priebus has begun stating in private meetings that the party has sway over its at times unwelcome front-runner because it has tools Trump will need to use to win a general election — voter data and field, digital and media operations that a nominee typically inherits from the party infrastructure. Dangling access to these resources, Priebus thinks he can help steer Trump toward partywide policy goals and away from the inflammatory rhetoric that Republican officials see as divisive and dangerous, especially outside of the primary…
But the very idea that the party can somehow control or even influence Trump strikes some Republicans as laughable given a primary season marked by the front-runner’s deliberate and aggressive disregard for political norms and party goals.
“Does anybody have leverage over Donald Trump? Nope,” a former top official at the RNC said. “His own staff doesn’t. No one can control him.”
One last thing: It’s been brought to my attention that the word ‘Trump’ is British slang for fart. Just saying.
On This Day: 1793 – Department heads of the U.S. government met with President Washington for the first Cabinet meeting on record. 1837 – Thomas Davenport patented the first commercial electrical motor. There was no practical electrical distribution system available and Davenport went bankrupt. 1995 – Frank Sinatra sang before a live audience for the last time. It was at a private party for 1,200 select guests on the closing night of the Frank Sinatra Desert Classic golf tournament.
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