These are my links for November 27th through November 28th:
Obama: Let’s Get Fiscal Cliff Deal Before Christmas – U.S. Fiscal Cliff – CNBC– President Barack Obama said Wednesday he hoped to reach a deal on the “Fiscal Cliff” before Christmas but insisted that Congress move now to prevent a middle-class tax increase in January. “Let’s approach this with the middle class in mind,” he said.”Our ultimate goal is to get an agreement that is fair and balanced,” the president said in a nationally televised statement from the White House. “My hope is to get this done before Christmas.””But the place where we already have, in theory at least, complete agreement right now is on middle-class taxes,” Obama said. “If Congress does nothing, every family in America will see their taxes automatically go up at the beginning of next year.”And for a typical family of four, he said, that would mean a tax increase of $2,200. “That means less money for buying groceries, less money for filling prescriptions, less money for buying diapers,” Obama said, standing in front of a group of middle-class Americans he had met with earlier. “It means a tougher choice between paying the rent and paying tuition. And middle-class families just can’t afford that right now.”========
Obama should stop the BS campaigning and grandstanding. Get to work negotiating with the Speaker and House GOP leadership.
Romney’s Digital Guru Convenes Election Post-Mortem – Going to Be Brutal– Mitt Romney’s digital director will be leading an invitation-only postmortem to talk about what worked and what didn’t work for the Republicans in the presidential election.For a lot of Republicans, what didn’t work is the fact that their candidate lost. Whether it’s justified or not, digital director Zac Moffatt has come in for a disproportionate share of heat among Republicans unhappy about the result.On Dec. 6, Moffatt and Republican National Committee digital-strategy director Tyler Brown will have a chance to explain themselves and their strategy before an audience of leading Republican digital practitioners at an RNC event at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington.
Obama public relations effort aims to avoid ‘fiscal cliff’ – Symbolism Over Substance– The White House signaled Tuesday that it will try to marshal the momentum from President Obama’s reelection triumph into another victory at the negotiating table, launching a full-fledged public relations effort to avoid a “fiscal cliff” that could jolt the nation back toward recession.Administration officials said Obama will hit the road this week for a campaign-style series of events with ordinary Americans, including a visit to a toy manufacturer in suburban Philadelphia on Friday. That trip and others will be aimed at increasing pressure on Congress to reach an agreement on heading off a series of automatic spending cuts and tax increases that are scheduled to begin in January
Symbolism over substance
Erick Erickson considering challenge to Chambliss– Popular conservative blogger and radio personality Erick Erickson said Tuesday he was considering a primary challenge to Sen. Saxby Chambliss after a host of political bigs had approached him about staging a bid of his own in the days since the incumbent broke with a vaulted no-taxes pledge.“For a week now, I’ve been getting calls to see if I would challenge Saxby Chambliss, once he really got into the whole ‘raising taxes issue,’” Erickson said in the opening segment of his radio show Tuesday. “Well, the pace quickened. I got a lot of people pledging a lot of money in the last couple of days if I did something like this. And I’ve been very adamant, I wasn’t going to do it, but after a few conversations today with a few heavy hitters in Washington, D.C. and some here in Georgia, I should at least consider it.”Erickson, a CNN political contributor and editor-in-chief of conservative haunt RedState, added he was “very flattered” and was in “prayerful consideration” about waging a possible challenge to the two-term Chambliss.Erickson was a one-term city councilman in Macon, Georgia, but resigned when his work–a radio show, television gig and editorship of highly-trafficked blog–became too great to shoulder in tandem with his public service.————-
A credible campaign against an incumbent U.S. Senator?
Going to be tough.
Obama sells budget plan to middle class, biz leaders– For President Obama, it’s another day of focus on the “fiscal cliff.”Selling his plan to reduce the federal debt in part by raising taxes on the wealthy, Obama meets Wednesday with selected members of the middle class and the business community.Obama will speak during the event with middle class Americans, some of whom responded to an e-mail solicitation from the White House on the looming “fiscal cliff” — a package of tax hikes and budget cuts that kick in if the White House and Congress can’t strike a deal to reduce a federal debt that now tops $16 trillion.Later Wednesday, Obama and Vice President Biden meet with business leaders to “discuss the actions we need to take to keep our economy growing and find a balanced approach to reduce our deficit.”These are the latest steps in an all-out political blitz to sell Obama’s budget plans. On Friday, the president is scheduled to visit a Pennsylvania business — a toy factory near Philadelphia — to discuss the impact of the fiscal cliff.
Obama thinks he is still campaigning.
America would be better off meeting with the House GOP leaders and cutting a deal.
After Close Election, Dems Look Like Sore Winners or Why Ken Burns is a Jerk– Post-election season is a time for healing, for putting aside the rancor of a long campaign and rediscovering what unites us. It has not been that way this year.Prudence, one would think, if not generosity of spirit, should impel Democrats to be magnanimous in victory. Romney did receive about 48 percent of the vote. A little modesty among the winners would seem to be in order.Instead, the gloating has been extravagant. Worse, liberals have gorged themselves on the same junk food they enjoyed during the campaign and cannot seem to resist under any circumstances — slandering their opponents. The smears are so casual and commonplace that we become weary of responding. But we must protest, or someone new to politics may assume that we concede the point.Appearing on “Meet the Press”, documentary filmmaker Ken Burns attributed conservative unhappiness with the election to racism. “Race is always there in America,” Burns opined. “It’s always something we don’t want to talk about. Do you think we’d have a secession movement — a faddish movement — if this president wasn’t [sic] African-American? Do you think the vitriol that came out of some elements of the tea party?”Ken Burns is a fine filmmaker. I met him once, and I found him to be engaging and amiable. It’s painful to see him descend to this kind of defamation. Some disappointed Republicans are talking secession in Texas and elsewhere. This is proof of racism? Is this the standard of evidence Burns employs for his films?
Obamacare’s Rationers Employ The “It’s Good For You” Defense– Obamacare’s backers have a plan to justify their attempts to ration medicine — by saying that it’s good for you.Through 2019, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — otherwise known as Obamacare — will allocate some $3.5 billion toward “Comparative Effectiveness Research,” or CER, which pits drug versus drug in tests intended to determine which treatments work best.CER advocates say that it’s designed to correct a “market failure.” Right now, they argue, drug firms need not demonstrate that their product is better than those already on the market — only that it is effective at treating the disease it targets. Drug companies have little incentive to compare their products to those made by other firms — as they may not come out on top.CER sounds innocuous enough. Who could be against research to help doctors make more informed decisions?But the truth is that CER is nothing more than a backdoor route to healthcare rationing. Such research will almost certainly be used to not-so-subtly influence treatment decisions.
Retailers confident online sales tax has votes to pass– Retail groups are increasingly confident that they have the votes to pass a federal online sales tax in the final weeks of the 112th Congress if they can secure time on the legislative calendar.With less than five weeks to go in the year, supporters are concentrating most of their efforts on the Senate, where a measure giving states greater latitude to collect sales taxes from online purchases has a powerful backer in Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).At the same time, retail groups acknowledge that the talks over looming spending cuts and tax hikes could get acrimonious, and that Democrats and Republicans might have little appetite to deal with other measures if their negotiations run deep into December.“I think this is a question of can we get a vote, not if it can pass,” said Jason Brewer, a spokesman for the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). “We feel confident about the vote count, but there’s also not a lot of time to push this across the finish line.”“When you end up with a major political situation like the ‘fiscal cliff,’ that overrides everything,” Rachelle Bernstein, tax counsel at the National Retail Federation, told The Hill. “I think we feel that we have a good piece of legislation pulled together, with lots of support. But there’s a decent chance politics could derail it.”
Tom Cole: Join with President Obama on quick deal– Republican Rep. Tom Cole urged colleagues in a private session Tuesday to vote to extend the Bush tax rates for all but the highest earners before the end of the year — and to battle over the rest later.The Oklahoma Republican said in an interview with POLITICO that he believes such a vote would not violate Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge and that he’s not alone within Republican circles.
Hope and Exchange – The Feds Blame the States Over ObamaCare– ObamaCare is due to land in a mere 10 months—about 300 days—and the Administration is not even close to ready, so naturally the political and media classes are attacking the Governors and state legislators who decline to help out. Mostly Republicans, they’re facing a torrent of abuse in Washington and pressure from health lobbies at home.But the real story is that Democrats are reaping the GOP buy-in they earned. Liberals wanted government to re-engineer the entire health-care system and rammed the Affordable Care Act through on a party-line vote, not stopping to wonder whether it would work. Now that implementation is proving to be harder than advertised, they’re blaming the states for not making their jobs easier.
Senate Dems divided over cuts to benefit programs– Deep divisions among Senate Democrats over whether cuts to popular benefit programs like Medicare and Medicaid should be part of a plan to slow the government’s mushrooming debt pose a big obstacle to a deal for avoiding a potentially economy-crushing “fiscal cliff,” even if Republicans agree to raise taxes.Much of the focus during negotiations seeking an alternative to $671 billion in automatic tax increases and spending cuts beginning in January has centered on whether Republicans would agree to raising taxes on the wealthy. President Barack Obama has insisted repeatedly that tax increases on the wealthy must be part of any deal, even as White House officials concede that government benefit programs will have to be in the package too.”It is the president’s position that when we’re talking about a broad, balanced approach to dealing with our fiscal challenges, that that includes dealing with entitlements,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday.
Watch What Warren Buffett Does, Not What He Says– That last point is key: When taxes change, would-be investors will certainly change their decisions about where to direct capital, even “though the companies’ operating economics will not have changed adversely at all.” Buffett saw this clearly in 1986, with respect to Berkshire’s own investment decisions; it’s hard to believe that Buffett no longer believes that today, with respect to private investors.Now, none of this is to say that the capital-allocation effects of tax changes ultimately require the nation to forego tax reforms that would increase certain tax revenues. But it certainly is one consideration that must be kept in mind. When Buffett and others simply assert that tax increases don’t affect investment decisions, they’re whistling past the graveyard.
Image Problem – Republicans have a shot at improving their luck at the polls in 2014, but first they have to find a way to boost their brand appeal– Of the 13 Republican-held seats up in 2014, only one is in a state that Obama carried: Susan Collins in Maine. Indeed, Obama wasn’t even close in any GOP-held seats in other states. Other than Maine, the best Obama performances were minus 13 points in Alabama (Jeff Sessions), minus eight in Georgia (Saxby Chambliss), minus 12 in Mississippi (Thad Cochran), and minus 12 in South Carolina (Lindsey Graham). The other states ranged from minus 16 in Texas (John Cornyn) to minus 32 in Idaho (James Risch) and minus 34 in Oklahoma (James Inhofe).Conversely, Democrats have three seats up in 2014 in states that Obama lost by more than 15 points: minus 17 points in Louisiana (Mary Landrieu), minus 24 in Arkansas (Mark Pryor), and minus 27 in West Virginia (Jay Rockefeller). It should be noted that six-term Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., announced her candidacy on Monday at the State Capitol in Charleston.In three more 2014 Democratic Senate states, Obama lost by at least five but less than 15 points: minus 11 in South Dakota (Tim Johnson) and minus 13 in both Alaska (Mark Begich) and Montana (Max Baucus). Former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds started an exploratory committee in September and is expected to challenge Johnson.There are three more 2014 Democratic Senate seats up in swing states, defined as such due to 2012 margins of five points or less: Obama minus two in North Carolina (Kay Hagan), plus three in Virginia (Mark Warner), and plus five in Colorado (Mark Udall).That’s nine Democratic seats that are either in demonstrably swing states or in enemy territory. This also does not take into account some states that were on the bubble: Obama won Iowa (Tom Harkin) and New Hampshire (Jeanne Shaheen) by just six points each.
The remarkable thing about Senate Democrats in 2012 was their ability to go on the offensive while, by necessity, playing defense. That will be much more difficult to replicate in 2014 given the seats up that cycle.
Amazon.com to build third California distribution center– Internet retailer Amazon.com — after years of avoiding having any physical presence in California — is planning to open a third massive distribution center in the Golden State.The new operation is in Tracy, a distant bedroom community for the San Francisco Bay Area south of Sacramento. The facility will be only about 30 miles from a second Amazon center being built in Patterson to the south.Last month, the Seattle company cut the ribbon on a 950,000-square-foot facility in the city of San Bernardino, which started filling orders before the holiday shopping season.
The Fiscal Cliff Is A Sideshow: It’s The Economy, Not The Budget, Stupid– Recently, using the comforting, measured and boring tones perfected by Alan Greenspan, Chairman Bernanke in a speech to the New York Economic Club observed that the best of the policy options open to us might lead us back to our economic potential by 2018. Apart from the idea that we can’t have our economy back for maybe six more years, at least three things in his speech are cause for profound worry no matter how analgesic the language is meant to sound.The presidential campaign drove the first and most serious point home. No one seems to have any sense of urgency regarding growth. The “guild” economists who advised both sides focused more on blaming various actors for why the recession won’t end rather than showing any sense of the profound costs of what a lost decade of growth means to America. President Obama’s “George did it” narrative met Mitt Romney’s mantra of “Obama doesn’t know anything about business.” Romney’s feint at growth sure sounded more like “I can manage better.”
Red State’s Erick Erickson mulls Chambliss challenge– In a 900-word indictment of Sen. Saxby Chambliss, RedState editor and CNN contributor Erick Erickson described the Georgia Republican Tuesday as “waffling around like a dog off its leash for the first time.”Referring to Chambliss’s recent comment that he is more worried about the fiscal cliff than adhering to his anti-tax pledge, Erickson wrote:Everyone knows that Saxby meant he was happy to raise taxes. Now, under pressure back home, he is waffling. He covets his seat in Washington and is fearful of being primaries. Georgia has primary run-offs, whichs means he can be taken out. He cannot bring himself to say he wants to raise revenue through changing in the tax code that will cause taxes to go up, so he dances around. Behind the scenes, we all know he will work to structure a proposal that increases taxes on Americans, but he’ll cleverly make sure there are enough votes so he can vote against it. He is active and has been actively complicit with Mark Warner (D, VA) and others on raising taxes.
Bankrupt San Bernardino cuts $26 million, tries to stay afloat– Saying it had little choice, the San Bernardino City Council voted to cut $26 million in spending in an effort to keep the bankrupt city from dissolving and being governed by the county.The city is already in bankruptcy proceedings and facing a $45.8-million budget shortfall. The $26 million in cuts will help the troubled city stay afloat.The austerity plan is a required step in the federal bankruptcy process. It freezes vacancies in the Police Department even as the city deals with an increase in violent crime. The Fire Department’s overtime budget also was slashed by 35%.
President 2012: The New Electoral Math, and What It Means for Polling– The exit pollsters asked which was the most important candidate quality – vision for the future (29%), shares my values (27%), cares about people like me (21%), and strong leader (18%).Mitt Romney won three of the four qualities. Voters who selected vision opted for Romney 54%-45%. Those who picked values preferred Romney 55%-42%. Voters focused on strong leadership opted for Romney 61%-38%. Romney lost 18%-81% among voters who said “cares about people like me” to Barack Obama.Thus, Romney controlled leadership, vision, and values, yet still lost, because he got blown out on the empathy dimension. This may well have been the first Presidential election where the winner on leadership lost the election anyhow. Prior to the election, if you had said that Romney would win among the 74% of voters choosing those three qualities and would still lose overall, you would not have been believed.Also, asked which of four was the most important issue, an overwhelming 59% picked the economy. Romney won those voters 51%-47%. Thus, he won the most important issue, but still lost the election.But the demographics are even more concerning for the GOP down the road. Here are some of the stunning demographic findings from the exit polls about the Presidential election:
Mitt Romney won Independents by five points. That’s better than George W. Bush in 2004 by six net points (see more on that below).
Mitt Romney won middle income voters ($50-100k) by six points. George W. Bush won them by twelve points in 2004, but there were far fewer voters earning more than $100k in the 2004 election (18%) than in 2012 (28%).
Mitt Romney won white women by 56%-42% (the “war on women” is overstated; Romney got crushed with minority women but a fourteen point win is not exactly a decisive defeat with white women).
George W. Bush won white women by eleven points in 2004, a net three points weaker than Romney.
Mitt Romney won white voters by 59%-39%, which is better than George W. Bush in 2004 by three net points.
Mitt Romney won voters age 40+ by five points. There is no direct comparison to Bush in 2004, but Bush did win voters 45+ by five points.
So, Romney won many of the groups that are generally considered to be the ones to decide elections – Independents, white women (by double digits), middle income, and voters age 40+. Mitt Romney put together a coalition that just eight years ago would have won the presidential election (hence the data comparisons to George W. Bush). However, instead of whites being 77% of the electorate, they were 72% of the electorate. Instead of Republicans and Democrats being equal, Democrats far outnumbered Republicans, and washed out Romney’s advantage among Independents. Bush kept it close with younger voters (under age 40), while Obama won them decisively.
Why Republicans should have won the election (and why they didn’t)– The math, according to Bolger, is determinative. There are simply more Democrats than Republicans in the country — as we have noted before, the consistency of Democrats’ party ID edge is striking — and that means that winning independents is no longer the whole shebang for the GOP. Neither is winning the white vote since it’s hard to imagine a Democratic candidate sinking significantly lower than 39 percent among that voting bloc in future elections. (The white vote for Democratic presidential candidates has also been very consistent; since 1992, no Democratic nominee has received less than 39 percent or more than 43 percent of the white vote.)Concludes Bolger: “Thus, to have a chance, Republicans have to appeal to Hispanics. It’s simple math, but it’s hard to do. We have to start today.”He’s absolutely right — on both fronts. (Hell, we devoted an entire chapter in “The Gospel According to the Fix” to Republicans’ Hispanic problem and how it will doom them as a national party unless they can solve it.)
How Senate Republicans could get tripped up again in 2014 (and how they are trying not to)– Welcome to the 2014 cycle, where most of the early rumblings in the Senate landscape have involved the prospect of Republican infighting. And, after back-to-back cycles in which flawed nominees in Nevada, Missouri, Colorado, Indiana and Delaware cost Republicans dearly, national strategists are already working to prevent history from repeating itself.The question is how.Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) will be the next chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and will be faced with the task of recruiting better candidates and cultivating a better relationship with conservative groups.“Unless the party is planning to get behind principled, grassroots conservatives, they’re going to continue to run into a fierce headwind,” said SCF Executive Director Matt Hoskins.One of Moran’s vice chairs will be Sen.-elect Ted Cruz of Texas, the shining star of the conservative grassroots this cycle who overcame the odds to defeat heavily favored Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R) in a GOP primary/runoff. Part of Cruz’s role at the committee, according to a Republican familiar with NRSC strategy, will be to act as a go-between with conservative groups like the Club and SCF, both of which backed his candidacy this year.
Rand Paul warns GOP ‘in danger of becoming a dinosaur’– Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) urged the Republican party to adopt a more libertarian approach to policy in order to avoid becoming “a dinosaur.”Paul, the libertarian-leaning senator, was speaking in an interview with CNN on Tuesday.”I think my party, the Republican Party, is shrinking. We’re in danger of becoming a dinosaur,” Paul said. “We’re not competitive on the West Coast, we’re not competitive in New England.”
GOP lawmakers float immigration reform plan– Saying they want to get the conversation on immigration reform started, top Senate Republicans on Tuesday introduced a version of the so-called “Dream Act” to grant young illegal immigrants legal status in the US, though not giving them a special path to citizenship.GOP Sens. Jon Kyl and Kay Bailey Hutchison said they have introduced a bill that would reward those who take college classes or join the military.“We have got to get this ball rolling,” said Mr. Kyl, an Arizona Republican who is retiring this year. “We have to have a discussion that is sensible, that is calm.”Their bill would be more limited than the proposals Democrats have sought, which would have been more generous with a path to citizenship and broader in the number of immigrants it would apply to. But Ms. Hutchison, Texas Republican, said she and Mr. Kyl have tried to accommodate some Democratic lawmakers’ concerns.
The legislation would reward students with higher status the further along they are in pursuing their education. Those who earn a four-year college degree or complete military service could apply for a permanent visa that wouldn’t put them on a new path to citizenship, but would allow them to join existing lines by getting married to a U.S. citizen or finding another opportunity to adjust their status.
In Texas, a rising conservative star takes on the establishment– Hoping to build on momentum from Richard Mourdock’s Tea Party-driven victory over Richard Lugar in the Indiana Senate primary earlier this month, the Tea Party is setting its sights on another possible win Tuesday, this time in Texas.In Tuesday’s Texas Republican Senate primary, Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz, a Cuban-American lawyer with strong conservative bona fides, is hoping to force a runoff against David Dewhurst, lieutenant governor to Rick Perry and the longtime establishment favorite. Former Dallas mayor and businessman Tom Leppert is currently running in third, while former NFL running back and ESPN announcer Craig James trails in fourth place. The four candidates are running for the seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.The winner will go head-to-head with the winner of Tuesday night’s Democratic primary. Paul Sadler, a former state representative, and Sean Hubbard, a first-time candidate, are vying for that spot. In the deeply red state, however, the Republican nominee is expected to prevail in November.
Recent polls show Dewhurst well ahead of Cruz, and the consistent front-runner in the race. But in order to avoid a run-off this July, he needs to earn at least 50 percent of the vote – a threshold he has yet to breach in recent surveys. If Cruz can maintain his second-place positioning and keep Dewhurst under the 50 percent mark, he could build on a recent surge in momentum and publicity.
Texas Primary: What to Watch – Everything’s bigger in Texas, and today’s state and presidential primary is no exception.
Mitt Romney is expected to reach (and surpass) 1,144 delegates tonight–the magic delegate number needed to officially win the GOP nomination. With 155 delegates at-stake, Texas’s GOP primary is the largest delegate prize in the contest so far–the second largest overall. California will offer the most delegates on June 5.
Bigger than the delegate math however, is the Republican Senate primary, which is so far the most expensive Senate race in this election cycle. Some $25 million has been spent on behalf of the candidates seeking to fill the seat left open by Kay Bailey Hutchison’s retirement. Although the list of candidates on the ballot is long, the race is mostly considered to be contained to David Dewhurst, the state’s lieutenant governor, and Ted Cruz, the former solicitor general.
The Dewhurst/Cruz race has been largely framed as an establishment vs. Tea Party battle, with Dewhurst labeled as the establishment candidate, and Cruz appearing to claim the tea-party mantle. Cruz has received endorsements from national tea party figures like Sarah Palin and Jim DeMint, but Dewhurst has numerous conservative endorsements as well such as Rick Perry and Mike Huckabee.
Why Obama’s Senior Strategists Think He’ll Beat Mitt Romney – David Plouffe sits in his White House office, just a few steps from the Oval, staring at an oversize map of these United States. It’s late afternoon on May 9, two hours after Barack Obama’s declaration that his evolution on gay marriage has reached its terminus. The president is down the hall and on the phone, discussing his decision’s theological implications with several prominent African-American pastors—while Plouffe is being queried about its political dimensions by a querulousCaucasian reporter. The map at which Plouffe is gazing isn’t the electoral kind with the states shaded blue and red; as a federal employee, he notes wryly, “I’m not permitted to have one on the wall.” But given the way his head is hardwired, I’m pretty sure Plouffe is seeing those colors regardless
Christie’s Vice Presidential Skills– The most striking thing about the current Republican vice presidential field is its striking superiority to the Republican presidential field of six months ago. Former Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio, Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Rob Portman are among the more accomplished, knowledgeable, ideologically balanced political figures in American politics. The same could not be said of Rick Perry, Herman Cain or Michele Bachmann.The untested, of course, are also unwounded. It is easier to appear qualified and dignified when you haven’t been stripped, prodded with sharp sticks and forced to perform tricks on dozens of debate stages.But there is more at work in this obvious stature gap. Part of the explanation is structural. Presidential candidates are largely self-selected, which favors ambition and self-regard above, well, all other traits. A vice presidential field results from a party’s consensus on talent and competence
Backers See Huckabee Filling VP Niche– If Mitt Romney’s most pressing consideration in selecting a running mate is to find someone who can expand his appeal among independents or a critical demographic that remains up for grabs, several candidates would likely fit the bill better than Mike Huckabee.But if the former Massachusetts governor instead concludes that his right flank is not as secure as it needs to be, Huckabee may be among his best options.
Scott Walker recall: Wisconsin governor keeps low profile before vote– With a slim lead in the polls and just a week to go until the June 5 recall election, Scott Walker isn’t taking any chances.The Wisconsin governor is running under the radar in an attempt to freeze the race where it stands and limit the chances of a momentum-shifting mistake.
Saudis Demand Punishment for McDonald’s Toy They Say “Insults Muhammed”– Saudi Arabians are angry at a McDonald’s toy which they say mocks their prophet Muhammad. According to a report appearing today (5/27/12) on the Arabic news website, Kermalkom.com,the McDonald’s fast food restaurant “abused the Prophet Muhammad by placing his name at the base of a toy that is being distributed as part of the Happy Meal, a toy which steps on the name ‘Muhammad.'”The toy consists of a blue superhero figurine (apparently a Power Ranger Samurai; click here for pictures). It stands on one leg, and, when the lever is pressed, it pounds on the base with the other leg. According to the Saudis, the designs that appear all around the base, where the figurine stomps its foot, is really the name “Muhammad” written several times in circles.
SWATting the Ericksons | RedState– Last week we spent a lot of time writing about Brett Kimberlin and the incident involving blogger Patterico where someone spoofed his phone number and told 911 he had shot his wife.Tonight, my family was sitting around the kitchen table eating dinner when sheriffs deputies pulled up in the driveway.Someone called 911 from my address claiming there had been an accidental shooting.
It wasn’t nearly the trauma that Patterico suffered, but I guess the Erickson household is on somebody’s radar.
Luckily it was two sheriffs deputies who knew me and I had already, last week, advised the Sheriff’s Department to be on the look out for something like this.
Recall that in a Capitol Hill news conference three years ago, Pelosi (D-Calif.) vehemently denied being told about the use of waterboarding at a CIA briefing in September 2002. “We were not — I repeat — were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used,” Pelosi said. She later changed her story, telling reporters, “We were told explicitly that waterboarding was not being used.” She claimed she learned about the use of waterboarding the following year, only after other lawmakers were told by the CIA. “I wasn’t briefed, I was informed that somebody else had been briefed about it,” she said.
Elizabeth Warren’s embattled campaign: Cherokee tie found 5 generations ago – Desperately scrambling to validate Democrat Elizabeth Warren’s Native American heritage amid questions about whether she used her minority status to further her career, the Harvard Law professor’s campaign last night finally came up with what they claim is a Cherokee connection — her great-great-great-grandmother.
“She would be 1⁄32nd of Elizabeth Warren’s total ancestry,” noted genealogist Christopher Child said, referring to the candidate’s great-great-great-grandmother, O.C. Sarah Smith, who is listed on an Oklahoma marriage certificate as Cherokee. Smith is an ancestor on Warren’s mother’s side, Child said.
The missing link comes after Warren’s embattled campaign faced sharp questions about her Native American background in the wake of Herald stories that showed both Harvard Law School and Warren herself had touted her tribal lineage and claimed she was a member of a minority for years.
Norman Ornstein to the Press Corps: Stop Covering the GOP Fairly to Stop Their Success – Norman Ornstein is the in house pet liberal at the American Enterprise Institute who they let out of his cage once in a while to lament the free market, conservatives, and the like. I’m not sure why groups like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute ever allow their supposed scholars to team up with the Brookings Institute, but whenever they do it results in intellectual underwear stains for both organizations.
In today’s quasi-bipartisan inane ramblings, Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute and Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institute want the Washington Press Corps to know the GOP is extremist, destroying the country, and they should all stop paying attention to the GOP or treating them with balance.
Nothing says marginal extremism like holding the US House, most statehouses, most governorships, and a plurality of national party ID.
We on the Estrogen Express thought we’d finally found our Golden Girl.
This could be your Seamus moment.
This could be the beginning of your end — like when Rim Tim Tim Murray rope-a-doped about releasing his cellphone calls.
I just can’t shake the ridiculous image of you, Liz — a blue-eyed blonde almost as pasty white as me — letting yourself be described as a minority professor, a Native American, for years.
You’ve played the Indian card. You’ve grabbed for minority cred without enduring the minority grief. It’s poached diversity. It’s glommed onto, what, five generations removed, assuming there were some facts way, way back when, as your campaign aides claimed last night.
How long before wise guys in feathered headdresses start dancing around parking lots at your events? Somebody told me yesterday your campaign needs to lie low and “circle the wagons.” Whoops. That same someone quickly realized it was the pioneers who circled the wagons when your Cherokee ancestors were blazing across the prairie on the warpath.
Here’s the problem for you, Liz: We’re not talking some elaborate, arcane, confusing financial irregularity here that nobody can understand. Everybody gets this. It’s letting everyone think you’re something that you’re not. It’s letting stand the idea that you’re part of an aggrieved class of people. It’s a sin of omission, which is not as bad as a sin of commission — like, you know, the typical political ploy of pumping up resumes with fake claims of combat heroism and purple hearts. But it’s a huge problem nonetheless.
IN-Sen: Indiana – Is it already over? – The PAC that was supporting Richard Lugar, the American Action Network, has pulled its ads. They officially come down today. “We’ve decied to let this race play out,” Dan Conston, spokesman for the group, confirms. The group spent about two-thirds of the $600,000 it booked. Republican thinking is that they are coming to grips with the idea that state Treasurer Richard Mourdock is the very likely nominee, and the party now doesn’t want to damage him. Strategists say Lugar didn’t started campaigning in earnest until too late and waited too long to define Mourdock. They didn’t know what to do with him.
Walker raises $13 million since January – Gov. Scott Walker raised an unprecedented $13.2 million over three months to fight off the recall bid against him, outdistancing his Democratic challengers and driving home the challenge they will have in beating the Republican incumbent.
Crisscrossing the country on fundraising trips, Walker has raised more than $25 million since January 2011 and has $4.9 million in cash on hand – numbers unlike any that have been seen for a political candidate in Wisconsin. Two-thirds of Walker’s money came from out of state.
His stores of cash dwarf what his Democratic rivals have raised. But a report filed Monday showed an independent group supporting Democrat Kathleen Falk received $4.5 million, nearly all of it from unions and about a third of it from out of state.
Walker’s fundraising is on par with that of second-tier presidential candidates. For instance, Rick Santorum raised $18.5 million between Jan. 1 and March 31, and Newt Gingrich raised a little less than $10 million during that period.
Walker has been able to raise so much because of the national appeal he developed with conservatives after his high-profile fight with labor unions and a quirk in Wisconsin law that allows unlimited fundraising while recalls are pending.
Conservative billionaire Diane Hendricks gave Walker $500,000. Hendricks co-founded Beloit-based ABC Supply, a roofing wholesaler and siding distributor, with her husband, Ken, who died in a 2007 fall.
Her donation was the single largest ever to a gubernatorial candidate in the state and tied the $500,000 given to Walker over recent months by Bob Perry, owner of Houston-based Perry Homes and a chief backer of the Swift Boat Veterans ads against Democrat John Kerry in the 2004 race for president.
“I say any president, Jimmy Carter, anybody, any president would have, obviously, under those circumstances, done the same thing. And to now take credit for something that any president would do is indicative of take over campaign we’re under — we’re — we’re seeing…So all I can say is that this is going to be a very rough campaign,” McCain told Fox News in an interview set to air Monday night. “And I’ve had the great honor of serving in the company of heroes. And, you know the thing about heroes, they don’t brag.”
The Tea Party’s Moment – The Tea Party movement shook up the Congressional campaign landscape in 2010, electing a slew of unconventional candidates, pushing Republican candidates rightward, all while upsetting a few establishment favorites in the process.
But the next month could prove to be even more consequential for the movement, with major Senate primaries coming up, pitting conservative favorites against candidates backed by the GOP establishment. Already Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., is looking like the underdog against Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock in the state’s May 8 primary. Meanwhile, three other insurgent conservatives are looking to pull off upsets by winning their party’s nomination in Texas, Utah, and Nebraska
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.