These are my links for March 12th through March 13th:
Protests, attacks hit Afghanistan in wake of massacre – Thousands of people took to the streets in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday to protest the killing of 16 civilians by a U.S. soldier, burning an effigy of Barack Obama and calling for the killer to be tried in Afghanistan.
Demonstrators in the city of Jalalabad chanted “Death to America — Death to Obama” and blocked the main highway to Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported.
“Jihad (holy war) is the only way to get the invading Americans out of Afghanistan,” one banner read, according to the newspaper.
Specter also claims that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) did not uphold his promise to grant him seniority accrued over 28 years of service in the Senate as a Republican.
California’s Greek Tragedy – WSJ.com – Long a harbinger of national trends and an incubator of innovation, cash-strapped California eagerly awaits a temporary revenue surge from Facebook IPO stock options and capital gains. Meanwhile, Stockton may soon become the state’s largest city to go bust. Call it the agony and ecstasy of contemporary California.
California’s rising standards of living and outstanding public schools and universities once attracted millions seeking upward economic mobility. But then something went radically wrong as California legislatures and governors built a welfare state on high tax rates, liberal entitlement benefits, and excessive regulation. The results, though predictable, are nonetheless striking. From the mid-1980s to 2005, California’s population grew by 10 million, while Medicaid recipients soared by seven million; tax filers paying income taxes rose by just 150,000; and the prison population swelled by 115,000.
California’s economy, which used to outperform the rest of the country, now substantially underperforms. The unemployment rate, at 10.9%, is higher than every other state except Nevada and Rhode Island. With 12% of America’s population, California has one third of the nation’s welfare recipients.
The words come from Bill Maher. The HBO comedian was tweeting his disapproval of the campaign to deprive Rush Limbaugh of his sponsors. Especially distressing for Mr. Maher is that the campaign continues even though Mr. Limbaugh has apologized for his rude remarks about the Georgetown Law student who had testified before Congress on behalf of the contraceptive mandate.
Mr. Maher’s “defense,” of course, may have more to do with self-defense. For in the midst of the ritual denunciations of Mr. Limbaugh, it has emerged that liberals—Mr. Maher included—have long called conservative women things far more vulgar. That has led to embarrassing explanations of why Mr. Maher gets a pass, and whether the super PAC backing President Obama should return the million dollars that Mr. Maher has donated.
Republican Donors in Limbo – The extended Republican presidential primary has left many GOP donors paralyzed — unsure of whether to invest in the upcoming battle against President Barack Obama or focus on Congressional races.
Party insiders increasingly believe that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will win the nomination, a development that would likely open the donor spigot for the general election. But a victory by former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) or ex-Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) would probably have the opposite effect. A GOP money machine skeptical of the party’s White House prospects would likely spend instead on House and Senate races as the best hope for a November gain.
Red meat is blamed for one in 10 early deaths – Small quantities of processed meat such as bacon, sausages or salami can increase the likelihood of dying by a fifth, researchers from Harvard School of Medicine found. Eating steak increases the risk of dying by 12%.
The study found that cutting the amount of red meat in peoples’ diets to 1.5 ounces (42 grams) a day, equivalent to one large steak a week, could prevent almost one in 10 early deaths in men and one in 13 in women.
The scientists said that the government’s current advice that people should eat no more than 2.5 ounces (70 grams) a day, around around the level the average Briton already consumes, was “generous”.
Dr Frank Hu, co-author of the study, said: “Given the growing evidence that even modest amounts of red meat is associated with increased risk of chronic disease and premature death, 2.5 ounces (70 grams) per day seems generous. The bottom line is that we should make red meat only an occassional rather than regular part of our diet.”
Red meat often contains high amounts of saturated fat, while bacon and salami contain large amounts of salt. Replacing red meat with poultry, fish or vegetables, whole grains and other healthy foods cut the risk of dying by up to one fifth, the study found.
Steve Schmidt: Putting Palin on the ticket taught me there are worse things than losing – Via Mediaite, Exhibit A in why John Podhoretz’s review of “Game Change” is titled “Back Stab.” Actually, scratch that; this is Exhibit Z. Schmidt’s getting more attention for it now because the movie’s getting attention but he’s been dumping on Palin publicly for more than two years and privately for who knows how long. (Leaks from unnamed staffers began less than a week after election day and Palin allies inside the campaign warned weeks earlier that they were coming.) This is his job now, I think — doing sporadic cable-news cameos as some sort of RINO Dr. Frankenstein who created a grassroots monster and has to atone by killing it. Michael Goldfarb, who left the Weekly Standard to join the McCain campaign’s communications team, has had enough:
Back Stab – Sarah Palin as portrayed by her disloyal staff. – Nicolle Wallace was the onetime consultant to CBS News and media aide to George W. Bush who was assigned to work with Sarah Palin after the Alaska governor was chosen as John McCain’s running mate. It was Wallace who assured the McCain campaign that her dear friend Katie Couric, a committed liberal with a history of interviewing Republicans and conservatives in a quietly nasty way, was the right journalist to conduct a major early interview with the extremely conservative vice-presidential nominee.
Palin has only herself to blame for how horribly she came off, but as she was the most hotly sought-after interview in the world at the time, the McCain campaign could have picked and chosen and been cleverly calculating about which journalist would win the prize. Wallace was responsible for one of the great blunders in political advance work of modern media history.
Now, imagine you’re making a movie about the Palin story, one that demonstrates a modicum of sympathy for Sarah Palin’s excoriation at the hands of the media. (I know, I’m talking crazy, but go with me here.) In such a movie, Nicolle Wallace’s catastrophic guidance could have been portrayed in several ways. It could have been played as a simple goof, a wrongheaded political calculation. Or as an example of a kind of golly-gee naïveté, with Wallace being snowed by a seductive Couric. Or as a careerist move killing two birds with one stone, with Wallace seeking to stay in the good graces of her former colleague Couric despite several years of working for Republicans.
Other loyal McCain staffers I’ve spoken to have had the same reaction. While a few senior aides from the McCain campaign collaborated with the authors of Game Change and painted a picture of John McCain and Sarah Palin as so craven or ill-informed or incompetent that no handler could have gotten them elected, the reality is that John McCain was the better man and would have made a better president.
We lost that campaign partly because of events beyond our control, and partly as a result of bad counsel given by the same people who are apparently so flatteringly portrayed in this movie. John McCain deserved better than to be betrayed by his own top aides, and true to form he has honorably stuck by Gov. Palin even as she’s been smeared in the press over and over again by the same self-serving former staffers. I only hope that the Romney campaign takes notice of what’s happened here.
Halperin and Heilemann have gotten a $5 million contract to do the same thing to Romney that they did to McCain, and they will no doubt be looking for Romney aides the same way a con artist searches for his mark – seeking the emotionally vulnerable, the weak, the insecure, the ones who value the approval of MSNBC analysts more than the respect of their own campaign staff. Unfortunately, every Republican campaign has them – and given the opportunity Halperin and Heilemann are certain to reoffend.
Center-right leaders, Bush alums form religious conscience group – A collection of prominent center-right leaders, including multiple top Bush administration officials, have founded a new advocacy group to advocate for measures exempting religious organizations from federal rules governing contraception coverage, POLITICO has learned.
Among those involved in planning the group are former presidential adviser Mary Matalin, former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, former RNC Chairman and Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson, former Rep. Bill Paxon, former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn and New York Rabbi Meir Yaakov Soloveichik.
Their 501(c)4 organization, Conscience Cause, is aimed at “stopping the implementation of a Department of Health and Human Services regulation which would compel people and organizations to pay for drugs and services that violate their faith,” according to a statement shared with POLITICO.
Both Nicholson and Flynn are former ambassadors to the Vatican; Flynn is the lone Democrat in the group, though he has endorsed Mitt Romney for president.
The Ventura County Community College District board is set to vote on the letter Tuesday..
“We’re trying to specifically respond to their concerns, to show them what we’re doing,” said board President Stephen Blum. “We realize we can’t just tell them what we’re going to do. We have to do what we say we’re going to do. I see this as one of our first steps.”
The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges put the three campuses on probation last month, citing problems on the board. The commission noted one trustee’s “disruptive and inappropriate behavior.” Although he is not named in the letter, that trustee is Art Hernandez, who represents Oxnard.
Gawker more acceptable than conservative talk radio for advertisers? – Given all the attacks on advertisers who advertise on the Rush Limbaugh show or other conservative talk radio shows, one has to wonder why the companies below — who are highlighted on Gawker Media’s advertising page — do not apply such standards of civility and civil discourse to Gawker Media?
Of particular interest was Ford Motor Company, which was included in a list of companies which allegedly had instructed Premier Networks not to run its ads on conservative talk radio for fear of controversy. I have e-mailed Ford both to confirm it will not advertise on conservative talk radio and that it advertises on Gawker Media sites, but have not heard back.
At the end of the day, the point is not that advertisers should quite Gawker, it’s that there is a complete double standard. Sexualized, unapologetic attacks on conservative women simply are part of the accepted landscape.
Chiang, who manages the state’s cash, said the shortfall was likely due to a spike in tax refunds going out earlier than expected in February. Income tax receipts were 5.7 percent, or $99.9 million, below the Department of Finance’s projection.
Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers are anxiously awaiting tax receipts from March and April, two significant revenue months as taxpayers file their returns. The Democratic governor has proposed a budget to close a $9.2 billion deficit, but the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office has suggested that Brown’s estimates are overly optimistic and that the deficit is likely higher than that figure.
Though lawmakers have begun to review Brown’s budget in committee, they do not plan to take significant steps on the plan until late spring, closer to the June 15 deadline. Democratic leaders have said they want to see what tax revenues will be like in March and April before deciding how much to cut and where.
The infographic below, created by Online MBA, breaks down the demographics, including education level, income, age and gender of social media users, along with other miscellaneous facts.
Some sites’ users are more demographically alike than others. One thing is the same for most social sites — college students, or those who have completed some college, represent the majority on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Digg and Reddit. Among Facebook users, 57% have completed some college, and 24% have earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Although, people 45 and older make up 46% of Facebook users.
Social media sites are also seeing a gender split — women use social media more than men. More women are on Facebook and Twitter. About 57% of Facebook and 59% of Twitter users are women.
Women gravitate toward Pinterest and young, techie men hang out on Google+. Pinterest has the heaviest gender imbalance — 82% of users are women, who pin crafts, gift ideas, hobbies, interior design and fashion. On the other spectrum, Google+ is dominated by men (71%) and early adopters, engineers and developers. About 50% of Google+ users are 24 or younger.
LinkedIn reports an even ratio of men and women — 49% over age 45 — who use the site to connect with other business professionals.
Most people use social media to stay in touch with friends and family, and more are doing so while on the go. About 200 million Facebook users check their Timelines from their mobile devices every day.
Justice Dept opposes Texas voter ID law – The Justice Department’s civil rights division on Monday objected to a new photo ID requirement for voters in Texas because many Hispanic voters lack state-issued identification.
Texas is the second state in recent months to become embroiled in a court battle with the Justice Department over photo ID requirements for voters.
The Justice Department said Texas officials failed to show that the newly enacted law has neither a discriminatory purpose nor effect.
The department had been reviewing the law since last year and discussing the matter with state officials. In January, Texas officials sued U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, seeking a court judgment that the state’s recently enacted voter ID law was not discriminatory in purpose or effect.
These are my links for March 9th through March 12th:
President 2012 GOP Poll Watch: Too close to call in Alabama and Mississippi – Tuesday looks like it’s going to be a close election night in both Mississippi and Alabama. In Mississippi Newt Gingrich is holding on to a slight lead with 33% to 31% for Mitt Romney, 27% for Rick Santorum, and 7% for Ron Paul. And Alabama is even closer with Romney at 31% to 30% for Gingrich, 29% for Santorum, and 8% for Paul.
Gingrich and Santorum are both more popular than Romney in each of these states. In Mississippi Gingrich’s net favorability is +33 (62/29) to +32 for Santorum (60/28) and +10 for Romney (51/41). It’s a similar story in Alabama where Santorum’s at +32 (63/31), Gingrich is at +26 (58/32), and Romney’s at only +13 (53/40).
The reason Romney has a chance to win despite being less popular in both states is the split in the conservative vote. In Mississippi 44% of voters describe themselves as ‘very conservative’ and Romney’s getting only 26% with them. But he’s still in the mix because Gingrich leads Santorum only 35-32 with them. In Alabama where 45% of voters identify as ‘very conservative,’ Romney’s at just 24%. But again he remains competitive overall because his opponents are so tightly packed with those voters, with Santorum at 37% and Gingrich at 31%.
The strip, published on Monday and scheduled to run all week, has been rejected by several papers, while others said they were switching it from the comic section to the editorial page.
In an email exchange with the Guardian, Trudeau expressed dismay over the papers’ decision but was unrepentant, describing as “appalling” and “insane” Republican state moves on women’s healthcare.
Gingrich, Perry deny they seek a joint ticket – Newt Gingrich’s spokesman on Sunday dismissed speculation about a potential Gingrich-Rick Perry ticket being announced before the Republican National Convention in August, saying the two camps have not discussed the idea “at any level.”
A report by Fox News cited “sources close to the Gingrich campaign” saying preliminary conversations about such a ticket have begun with the hopes that pairing the former Speaker of the House and the Texas governor might unite evangelical, tea party and other conservative voters.
But Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond said no one in the campaign has reached out to Perry’s camp about a shared ticket.
Candidate-filing deadline extended in 3 Ventura County districts – The secretary of state has determined that the deadline for candidates to file to run for office will be extended until Wednesday in three political districts that include portions of Ventura County — the 26th Congressional District, the 19th Senate District and the 38th Assembly District.
State law provides for such extensions whenever an incumbent eligible to run for re-election decides not to do so.
The expensive systems were inaugurated last year amid controversy over its worth. A primitive Kassam rocket costs terrorists only a few hundred dollars while each Iron Dome anti-missile missile costs $50,000.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated Saturday night, “We will continue to improve home front defense including by means of additional Iron Dome systems, the effectiveness of which was shown again over the weekend.”
“Game Change” is not a movie about Sarah Palin. And it’s definitely not about staffers like me.
It’s a film about the vast, murky gray area in which the majority of politics takes place. I’m not talking about what you see on television: the speeches, the rallies, the debates. I’m talking about the man-in-the-mirror moments, the decision-making that takes place behind closed doors, with the counsel of very few men and women, and with high stakes and irreversible consequences.
Watching “Game Change” is like reliving the most tumultuous professional roller coaster ride on which I’ve ever been. It brought back the highs – Palin’s surprise selection and her glorious moment on stage at our national convention – and the now well-documented lows.
In the end, it’s also a film about how far great men like John McCain are willing to go in order to serve the country they love. Ultimately, every candidate makes the same calculation he did: ”Whom can I select to help me win, and will that person make a good governing partner if we prevail.”
Movies like “Game Change” bring politics to life in an important way by showing the human beings behind the headlines and the caricatures. And on the eve of another national presidential contest, it’s probably a good idea to remind ourselves that all our candidates are human.
Why Job Growth Is Likely to Slow – If you looked only at the monthly jobs report, you could start getting pretty optimistic about the American economy. The largest, broadest survey of employment — a survey of businesses — shows the best job growth in more than five years over the last 12 months, with the pace mostly accelerating in recent months. The other survey that the Labor Department does — of households — shows even faster job growth, suggesting that the business survey may be understating the economy’s strength.
But the jobs report isn’t the only measure of economic activity, and another major measure — of gross domestic product — doesn’t look quite so cheerful. The most likely situation is that job growth will slow in coming months, economists say, which will make President Obama’s economic narrative a bit more complicated than it now is.
On Friday, Macroeconomic Advisers, one of the most closely watched forecasting firms, reduced its estimate of economic growth in the current quarter to an annual rate of 1.8 percent, from 2 percent. And 1.8 percent growth does not generally lead to very strong job growth. In the fourth quarter of last year, by comparison, the economy grew 3 percent.
Beyond the current quarter, forecasters expect the economy will grow at an annual rate of 2 to 2.5 percent for the rest of the year, according to Bloomberg.
Yes, Scott Walker has governed as he campaigned – With the recall effort against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker heating up, Democrats are recycling the old claim that somehow Walker’s public union reforms came out of nowhere once he took office.
Earlier this week, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that one of the Democrats hoping to challenge Walker, Kathleen Falk, “repeatedly accused Walker of being dishonest during his 2010 campaign, citing as a prime example his decision to all but eliminate collective bargaining for most public workers even though he didn’t talk about it during his run for office.”
To be sure, the eventual budget repair bill did include measures that weren’t specifically proposed during the campaign, but it’s typical to campaign on broad outlines and fill in the specifics when elected. The bottom line is that Walker’s reforms shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anybody. For more, check out this still relevant February 2011 Stephen Hayes piece.
Government Accountability Board director Kevin Kennedy said in a memo to the full board that those dates make the most sense given the work that remains to be done verifying signatures on recall petitions and other timing concerns related to the proximity of the April 3 presidential primary election.
The full board was to discuss the issue Monday and if it agrees, ask a Dane County judge for more time on Wednesday.
The attorney for Democrats who launched the recall efforts said he would oppose the request in court.
“That seems totally unreasonable and unnecessary and it would change the character of the election,” attorney Jeremy Levinson said. Democrats have consistently argued the recalls should be held as soon as possible.
Republican Party spokesman Ben Sparks refused to comment on the proposed election dates. Instead, he reiterated the party’s position that multiple recalls be held on the same dates to cut down on election expenses. The elections board has also advocated for scheduling only two election dates.
Under the judge’s order currently in place, any primary elections would take place May 1 and the general election would happen May 29.
The real unemployment rate? It sure isn’t 8.3% – Even if it were a legit number, the 8.3% February unemployment rate, released today by the Labor Department, would be simply terrible—and unacceptable. It would still extend the longest streak of 8%-plus unemployment since the Great Depression. The U.S. economy hasn’t been below 8% unemployment since Obama took office in January 2009. And back in May 2007, unemployment was just 4.4%.
But, unfortunately, the true measure of U.S. unemployment is much, much worse.
1. If the size of the U.S. labor force as a share of the total population was the same as it was when Barack Obama took office—65.7% then vs. 63.9% today—the U-3 unemployment rate would be 10.8%.
2. But what if you take into the account the aging of the Baby Boomers, which means the labor force participation (LFP) rate should be trending lower. Indeed, it has been doing just that since 2000. Before the Great Recession, the Congressional Budget Office predicted what the LFP would be in 2012, assuming such demographic changes. Using that number, the real unemployment rate would be 10.4%.
Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, flanked by his wife Karen, right, and daughter Elizabeth, addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, Friday, Feb. 10, 2012
These are my links for February 9th through February 13th:
Congressman wants Afghanistan study group – Citing an Army lieutenant colonel’s claims that there is no progress being made in Afghanistan, Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., is urging Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to create an independent study group to review U.S. strategy in the sandbox.
In a letter dated Friday, Wolf wrote he is deeply troubled by the conclusions reached by Lt. Col. Daniel Davis and asks Panetta to immediately create an Afghanistan/Pakistan Study Group.
In 2010 and 2011, Davis traveled to Afghanistan on assignment with the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force, an organization tasked with getting urgently needed equipment to soldiers in the field.
“What I saw bore no resemblance to rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground,” Davis wrote in an opinion piece titled “Truth, lies and Afghanistan,” published online Feb. 5 by Armed Forces Journal.
Rather than the gradual progress described by top U.S. officials, Davis wrote he saw, “the absence of success on virtually every level.”
During a yearlong deployment that began in late 2010, Davis wrote, his job sent him around the country to talk, travel and patrol with troops in Kandahar, Kunar, Ghazni, Khost, Paktika, Kunduz, Balkh, Nangarhar and other provinces. It was his fourth combat deployment, and his second in Afghanistan.
Davis wrote a classified and unclassified report. He has not released either report publicly. On his website, he says he will publish the full unclassified version as soon as Army public affairs completes its review and grants permission for release.
On Feb. 10, Rolling Stone magazine published a copy of the unclassified version on its website.
Davis has provided the reports to members of Congress — both Democrats and Republicans, senators and House members. He has also sent his reports to the Defense Department’s inspector general.
He declined to comment for this story.
The Pentagon maintains that the security environment in Afghanistan continues to improve.
During a briefing this week, Army Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, deputy commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, described steady progress in the country, from local and national government to the development of Afghan security forces. Responding to a question about Davis’ report, Scaparrotti said, “it’s one person’s view of this,” adding that he thought the Defense Department’s outlook is accurate.
Wolf has written similar letters to Panetta over the past several months.
The congressman is the author of the legislation that created the Iraq Study Group and has been pushing for the Obama administration to conduct a similar review of the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Santorum surges into the lead – Public Policy Polling – Riding a wave of momentum from his trio of victories on Tuesday Rick Santorum has opened up a wide lead in PPP’s newest national poll. He’s at 38% to 23% for Mitt Romney, 17% for Newt Gingrich, and 13% for Ron Paul.
Part of the reason for Santorum’s surge is his own high level of popularity. 64% of voters see him favorably to only 22% with a negative one. But the other, and maybe more important, reason is that Republicans are significantly souring on both Romney and Gingrich. Romney’s favorability is barely above water at 44/43, representing a 23 point net decline from our December national poll when he was +24 (55/31). Gingrich has fallen even further. A 44% plurality of GOP voters now hold a negative opinion of him to only 42% with a positive one. That’s a 34 point drop from 2 months ago when he was at +32 (60/28).
Santorum is now completely dominating with several key segments of the electorate, especially the most right leaning parts of the party. With those describing themselves as ‘very conservative,’ he’s now winning a majority of voters at 53% to 20% for Gingrich and 15% for Romney. Santorum gets a majority with Tea Party voters as well at 51% to 24% for Gingrich and 12% for Romney. And with Evangelicals he falls just short of a majority with 45% to 21% for Gingrich and 18% for Romney.
It used to be that Gingrich was leading with all these groups and Romney was staying competitive enough with them to hold the overall lead. No more- a consensus conservative candidate finally seems to be emerging and it’s Santorum.
Shrinking Senate Hopes – for 2012 – Three other Democratic seats are vulnerable. No state has trended Republican in recent years more than Missouri. John McCain narrowly beat Obama in Missouri in 2008. Roy Blunt won the open Senate seat there in 2010 by 14 percentage points. So it’s no surprise that Democratic senator Claire McCaskill is in deep trouble this year. The Republican Senate primary is August 7.
Wisconsin is more Democratic, but it offers Republicans a great opportunity. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, the Democratic candidate, is gay, liberal, and a zealous campaigner. Either of the GOP candidates, former governor Tommy Thompson or ex-House member Mark Neumann, could beat her. When Neumann gave up his House seat in 1998 to run (unsuccessfully) for the Senate, by the way, he was replaced by Paul Ryan.
In Hawaii, Democrat Dan Akaka is stepping down after three terms, and there’s only one Republican with a realistic chance of winning his seat, former governor Linda Lingle. Fortunately for Republicans, Lingle is running. She didn’t have to buck a Democratic tide in a presidential year when she won the governorship in 2002 and 2006. With Obama, a native of Hawaii, leading the ticket, she’ll have to overcome a strong partisan headwind.
Where does this leave us? Duffy projects a Republican gain of three to six seats. The Rothenberg Report says two to five. A year ago, I’d have said four to seven. Today, three to six seems about right, with emphasis on the three. But my rule of politics is that the future is never a straight line projection of the present. In November, Republican prospects may look better—or worse.
The Afghanistan Report the Pentagon Doesn’t Want You to Read – Earlier this week, the New York Times’ Scott Shane published a bombshell piece about Lt. Colonel Daniel Davis, a 17-year Army veteran recently returned from a second tour in Afghanistan. According to the Times, the 48-year-old Davis had written an 84-page unclassified report, as well as a classified report, offering his assessment of the decade-long war. That assessment is essentially that the war has been a disaster and the military’s top brass has not leveled with the American public about just how badly it’s been going. “How many more men must die in support of a mission that is not succeeding?” Davis boldly asks in an article summarizing his views in The Armed Forces Journal.
Davis last month submitted the unclassified report –titled “Dereliction of Duty II: Senior Military Leader’s Loss of Integrity Wounds Afghan War Effort” – for an internal Army review. Such a report could then be released to the public. However, according to U.S. military officials familiar with the situation, the Pentagon is refusing to do so. Rolling Stone has now obtained a full copy of the 84-page unclassified version, which has been making the rounds within the U.S. government, including the White House. We’ve decided to publish it in full; it’s well worth reading for yourself. It is, in my estimation, one of the most significant documents published by an active-duty officer in the past ten years.
Teachers union defends endorsement of Falk – The state’s largest public teachers union is standing behind its endorsement of Kathleen Falk for governor despite controversy among Democrats and some union members.
Some complained the endorsement came too early: A recall election hasn’t been ordered, and many expect other prominent candidates to join the race. Others felt the unions shouldn’t play kingmaker before a primary or give the impression that the election is about only collective bargaining rights.
Mary Bell, Wisconsin Education Association Council president, said she understood the passionate feelings but said the recommendation was made with input from union leaders throughout the state.
“It’s not surprising,” she said. “Our members have a lot invested in what’s happening.”
Though acknowledging other candidates may enter the race, Bell said she is confident the former Dane County executive is the best choice to beat Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
Bell said the short and uncertain time frame of a recall made it necessary to put out a recommendation early.
Mike Tate, chairman of the state Democratic Party, said the party is proud to work closely with organized labor – which he called “the backbone” of the party – though he said the election is about much more.
“A million Wisconsinites signed a recall petition; each one has their own reason,” he said. “There’s a number of reasons to recall Scott Walker.”
He shrugged off the significance of the WEAC decision.
“Unions make endorsements,” Tate said Thursday. “That’s what they do.”
Kathleen Falk, the candidate from WEAC, says she wants to “undo the harm” that Governor Walker has done and is apparently willing to devastate Wisconsin in order to advance her agenda.
Want to see what “undoing the harm” would look like?
A year ago Pat Quinn, the ultra-liberal Governor of Illinois, faced many of the same challenges that Scott Walker faced. Instead of standing up to public employee unions and reining in spending, Quinn pushed for massive tax increases and business as usual.
So how did that work out?
In contrast to Governor Walker (who has an approval rating over 50%), Quinn has an approval rating of 30%! That’s right! 30%.
Let’s be real clear. Kathleen Falk is a slightly more opportunistic version of Pat Quinn with a Madison mailing address. The policies of Quinn have decimated Illinois. There’s absolutely no reason to think that they’d work any better in Wisconsin under Kathleen Falk.
Want to see what Wisconsin would look like one year after Kathleen Falk became Governor? Just look at Illinois today.
It’s not a pretty sight.
Nearly 1 in 20 US adults over 50 have fake knees – Nearly 1 in 20 Americans older than 50 have artificial knees, or more than 4 million people, according to the first national estimate showing how common these replacement joints have become in an aging population.
Doctors know the number of knee replacement operations has surged in the past decade, especially in baby boomers. But until now, there was no good fix on the total number of people living with them.
The estimate is important because it shows that a big segment of the population might need future knee-related care, said Dr. Daniel Berry, president of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and chairman of orthopedic surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He was not involved in the research.
2012 Michigan Republican Primary – Romney 38%, Gingrich 23%, Santorum 17%, Paul 14% – Mitt Romney, coming off his big win in the Florida Primary on Tuesday, is the clear front-runner in the first Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of the Republican presidential race in his home state of Michigan. Voters in this hard hit state see Romney as the much better choice to manage the economy. The Michigan Republican Primary is on February 28.
Romney earns 38% support from Likely Republican Primary Voters in Michigan, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich a distant second with 23% of the vote. Seventeen percent (17%) prefer former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, and nearly as many (14%) favor Texas Congressman Ron Paul. One percent (1%) like some other candidate in the race, and six percent (6%) are undecided
Coulter’s shameful defense of Romneycare – Ann Coulter’s support for Mitt Romney entered a new stage today with a column offering an all out embrace of Romneycare. In the process, she insults the intelligence of conservative critics of the law and doesn’t address their actual arguments against it.
Her first defense of the law is to name other conservatives who supported it at the time. So what? Many of us were opposed to it all along. For instance, in August 2006, before Barack Obama even announced he was seeking the presidency, I fretted that Romney’s support for universal health care made him the natural heir to President Bush’s big government “compassionate conservatism.” In July 2007, I wrote that, “It is hard to imagine anything representing a greater affront to conservative principles than using government to coerce private citizens into purchasing healthcare.” David Hogberg was another early critic, among many others.
Have Democrats Succeeded in Pre-Destroying Romney? – – Tuesday’s installment of the left’s crusade to destroy Mitt Romney began like this: an operator chirping, “I’d like to welcome you today to the Mitt Romney Would Destroy Social Security and Medicare Conference Call.”
A few moments later, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, was on the line. “Thanks, everybody, for joining the call today,” she began. Within minutes, she had accused Romney of “political pandering,” supporting “the extreme tea party agenda,” and lying to senior citizens, Hispanics and supporters of the space program.
Just another day in the life of the vast left-wing conspiracy.
Practically every day for months, Democrats and their allies have been hammering Romney like this. Unions, party committees at the national and state levels, independent groups such as American Bridge and Americans United for Change, and the Obama campaign itself have undertaken an unprecedented effort to tarnish the front-runner while virtually ignoring the rest of the GOP candidates. And it appears to be working.
Even as he finds increasing success in the Republican primary, negative views of Romney have skyrocketed, particularly among independents, according to recent polls. An ABC News/Washington Post survey released last week, for example, found Romney viewed unfavorably by 49 percent of voters and favorably by just 31 percent. Among independents, just 23 percent viewed Romney favorably, compared to 51 percent who felt that way about President Obama.
One emerging strain of the conventional wisdom holds that it’s the harsh attacks on Romney from Newt Gingrich — and blowback from Romney’s own brutally negative campaign — that’s causing this to happen. Democrats have been pushing this line, in fact, arguing that Romney is winning at a steep cost and will limp into the general election bruised beyond repair.
Having told us only Romney was viable (with half-nods to Huntsman and Santorum) and having trotted out Elliot Abrams to smear Newt Gingrich with out of context quotes, even National Review is having trouble defending their candidate today.
This morning Mitt Romney said he wasn’t concerned about the poor. The poor, after all, have food stamps and Medicaid. But don’t worry. If the safety net is broken, Patrician Mitt Romney will fix it so the poor can stay comfortably poor. After all, just look what he did in Massachusetts. The poor can now wait 44 days to get in to see a doctor. Excelsior!
After making sure we all understood the poor were for the Democrats to be worried about, Romney decided to keep digging his hole even bigger. By the end of the day, Jim DeMint had to rebuke him.
Romney derangement syndrome (on the right) – So what gives? Perhaps it is frustration, especially among talk-show hosts, at not being able to derail Romney. Maybe some shrill bloggers understand that Romney threatens to prove that they are less in tune with Republicans than the “squishy” Republican candidates and officeholders. And maybe conservative political journalists have more in common with their mainstream counterparts than they’d like to admit — a suspicion of wealth, ignorance of the business world and a fixation on the candidates’ interaction with them. After all, Romney never really courted and flattered conservative pundits the way Newt Gingrich did (especially by bashing the mainstream media competition).
None of this is to say there isn’t strong and valid opposition to Romney in the conservative press. (Michelle Malkin, who recently endorsed Santorum, and staunch critics of Romneycare certainly fit this description.) But it’s hard to ignore the conclusion that for some in the conservative press there is an element of anti-Romney animosity that is not quite grounded in reason or ideological consistency — it is personal. And other than Romney’s being “handsome, rich and successful,” as Kathleen put it, it’s really hard to fathom where it comes from.
Romney Poised for Blowout Win in Nevada – A new Las Vegas Review-Journal poll in Nevada finds Mitt Romney leading the GOP presidential race with 45%, followed by Newt Gingrich at 25%, Rick Santorum at 11% and Ron Paul at 9%.
However, Carl Bunce, the Nevada chairman of the Paul campaign, “dismissed the poll results, saying most Paul supporters refuse to participate or lie in surveys because of a bad experience in Nevada four years ago. He said Sen. John McCain’s campaign did robocalls to identify Paul supporters and then sidelined them at the state party convention.”
U.S. military commanders had said in recent weeks they would begin a transition this year toward taking more of an advisory role as Afghanistan’s national army and police take greater responsibility for fighting the insurgency. But Panetta’s remarks were the first time the Obama administration has said it could foresee an end to regular U.S. and NATO combat operations by the second half of next year.
Figures on government spending and debt – Figures on government spending and debt (last six digits are eliminated). The government’s fiscal year runs Oct. 1 through Sept. 30.
Total public debt subject to limit Jan. 30 15,313,699
Statutory debt limit 16,394,000
Total public debt outstanding Jan. 30 15,356,140
Operating balance Jan. 30 158,596
Interest fiscal year 2012 through December 62,662
Interest same period 2011 56,780
Deficit fiscal year 2012 through December 321,735
Deficit same period 2011 368,960
Receipts fiscal year 2012 through December 555,437
Receipts same period 2011 531,797
Outlays fiscal year 2012 through December 877,173
Outlays same period 2011 900,757
Gold assets in January 11,041
The spokesman said the radiation levels were “barely measurable,” but the plant was shut down as a precaution.
“At no point were the public or our workers in any danger,” Southern California Edison spokesman Gil Alexander told ABC News.
Officials say the radiation leak likely occurred in the steam generator tubes of San Onofre’s reactor #3. The steam system, which is supposed to be shielded from exposure to radiation, was replaced in December 2010. Alexander said plant officials will be conducting an investigation into why the new steam tubes leaked.
Cities with highest and lowest unemployment rates – Nearly 90 percent of major U.S. cities had lower unemployment rates in December than the same month a year earlier, a reflection of stronger hiring nationwide.
The Labor Department said Wednesday that unemployment rates fell in 329 cities last year. They rose in 37 cities and were unchanged in seven.
The national unemployment rate fell in December to 8.5 percent – the lowest level in nearly three years. Employers added 200,000 net jobs, the sixth straight month of solid hiring.
Unemployment rates rose from November to December in a majority of U.S. cities. However monthly metro area unemployment data can be volatile because they aren’t adjusted for seasonal variations, such as holiday hiring.
The government will report Friday on U.S. hiring and unemployment in January.
Below are the cities with the highest and lowest rates:
Best and Worst Metro areas
Figures are in percentages
Highest unemployment rates December 2011
El Centro, Calif. 26.8
Yuma, Ariz. 23.1
Merced, Calif. 18.7
Yuba City, Calif. 18.1
Visalia-Porterville, Calif. 16.2
Fresno, Calif. 16.2
Modesto, Calif. 16.1
Stockton, Calif. 15.9
Hanford-Corcoran, Calif. 15.3
Ocean City, N.J. 15.1
Lowest unemployment rates December 2011
Bismarck, N.D. 3.2
Lincoln, Neb. 3.6
Fargo, N.D. 3.7
Burlington, Vt. 3.8
Logan, Utah 3.9
Midland, Texas 3.9
Houma-Bayou Cane-Thibodaux, La. 4.3
Sioux Falls, S.D. 4.3
Ames, Iowa 4.3
Iowa City, Iowa 4.3
Romney supports automatic hikes in minimum wage – epublican presidential contender Mitt Romney renewed his support Wednesday for automatic increases in the federal minimum wage to keep pace with inflation, a position sharply at odds with traditional GOP business allies, conservatives and the party’s senior lawmakers.
“I haven’t changed my thoughts on that,” the former Massachusetts governor told reporters aboard his chartered campaign plane, referring to a stand he has held for a decade.
He did not say if he would ask Congress to approve the change if he wins the White House this fall.
Congress first enacted federal minimum wage legislation in 1938 and has raised it sporadically in the years since. The last increase, approved in 2007, took effect in three installments and reached $7.25 an hour for covered workers effective July 24, 2009.
It has never been allowed to rise automatically, as Romney envisions.
As the housing market enters its fourth year of high foreclosures and sluggish sales, the president said his proposal — targeted at the middle class — would help homeowners save about $3,000 a year, without “red tape” or a “runaround” from banks.
Theodore Olson: Obama’s Enemies List – How would you feel if aides to the president of the United States singled you out by name for attack, and if you were featured prominently in the president’s re-election campaign as an enemy of the people?
What would you do if the White House engaged in derogatory speculative innuendo about the integrity of your tax returns? Suppose also that the president’s surrogates and allies in the media regularly attacked you, sullied your reputation and questioned your integrity. On top of all of that, what if a leading member of the president’s party in Congress demanded your appearance before a congressional committee this week so that you could be interrogated about the Keystone XL oil pipeline project in which you have repeatedly—and accurately—stated that you have no involvement?
Consider that all this is happening because you have been selected as an attractive political punching bag by the president’s re-election team. This is precisely what has happened to Charles and David Koch, even though they are private citizens, and neither is a candidate for the president’s or anyone else’s office.
Gingrich 2012? Going, Going, Gone – Last week, New York magazine’s John Heilemann pointed out a deep truth about Newt Gingrich’s peculiar presidential campaign: The very media elite that Gingrich delights in hammering has actually been in his corner all along. The press likes a horse race; the press likes outsize personalities; the press favors an underdog; and the press even takes a strange sort of delight in being ruthlessly attacked.
Of course most political reporters don’t want Gingrich in the White House. But they’ve had every incentive to keep him in the headlines and overrate his odds of defeating Mitt Romney for the nomination.
Tuesday night’s Floridian drubbing won’t change those incentives, so we can expect a last burst of media chatter about how Gingrich could still recover, ride a wilderness campaign to a Super Tuesday comeback and fight Romney tooth and nail all the way to the convention. But chatter is all it will be. For Gingrich and his media enablers alike, the dream died in Florida – and here are four reasons why.
If Gingrich can’t compete in Florida, he can’t compete nationally.