New research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that Americans 60 and older still owe about $36 billion in student loans, providing a rare window into the dynamics of student debt. More than 10 percent of those loans are delinquent. As a result, consumer advocates say, it is not uncommon for Social Security checks to be garnished or for debt collectors to harass borrowers in their 80s over student loans that are decades old.
Palin to Couric: ‘Game On’ – When news broke that Katie Couric will be filling in for Robin Roberts next week on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” the country yawned. Or, at least we did, until we learned that NBC plans to pit “The Rogue Warrior” against “The Perky One”: Sarah Palin will be guest-hosting “Today” this Tuesday.
NBC’s decision to seat the former Alaska Governor-turned-multimedia star in their anchor chair should prove to be a fruitful one. Since coming onto the national scene in 2008, Palin has become one of the most charismatic figures in conservative America and will likely bring “Today” an entirely different demographic of viewers.
“I see this as a good opportunity to bring an independent, common-sense conservative perspective to NBC. We’re ‘going rogue’ and infiltrating some turf for a day,” Palin told Breitbart News.
Top Obama campaign donor accused of fraud – A major donor to President Barack Obama has been accused of defrauding a businessman and impersonating a bank official, creating new headaches for Obama’s re-election campaign as it deals with the questionable history of another top supporter.
The New York donor, Abake Assongba, and her husband contributed more than $50,000 to Obama’s re-election effort this year, federal records show. But Assongba is also fending off a civil court case in Florida, where she’s accused of thieving more than $650,000 to help build a multimillion-dollar home in the state — a charge her husband denies.
Obama is the only presidential contender this year who released his list of “bundlers,” the financiers who raise campaign money by soliciting high-dollar contributions from friends and associates. But that disclosure has not come without snags; his campaign returned $200,000 last month to Carlos and Alberto Cardona, the brothers of a Mexican fugitive wanted on federal drug charges.
Keith Olbermann was fired from Current TV after complaining that one of the peasants who drove his limo had the effrontery to try to talk to him.
And that another one smelled.
Suits at Al Gore’s fledgling cable network sacked the temperamental man-of-the-people after a series of on-the-job clashes, including the diva’s outrageous run of car services, network sources told The Post yesterday.
“Current went through eight different [limo] companies with Keith. Each and every time . . . he didn’t like them,” a network insider said.
“One time it was that the drivers talked to him, he did not like that the driver saw fit to speak to him. The other time he complained that the driver smelled.”
Olbermann couldn’t even be bothered to put pen to paper, in exchange for his luxury rides.
Gallup: Obama leads Romney – 49 vs. 45 – President Barack Obama is pulling ahead with a 4-percentage-point lead over Mitt Romney in a general election matchup, according to a new USA Today/Gallup Poll Monday.
Almost half of all registered voters, 49 percent, said they would vote for Obama for president, while 45 percent said they would pick Romney. The 4-point lead is within the poll’s margin of error but is still the biggest advantage the president has had against Romney in Gallup polling to date. Also, Obama has a solid 8-point lead among independents against Romney, 48 to 40 percent.
Twitter – RT @ScottWGraves: MUST READ: 11 consecutive @KeithOlbermann tweets regarding his firing by @AlGore… #bitter #arrogant
Unpaid bloggers’ lawsuit vs Huffington Post tossed – AOL Inc on Friday won the dismissal of a lawsuit by unpaid bloggers who complained they were deprived of their fair share of the roughly $315 million that the company paid last March to buy The Huffington Post website.
U.S. District Judge John Koeltl rejected claims by social activist and commentator Jonathan Tasini and an estimated 9,000 other bloggers that they deserved $105 million, or about one-third, of the purchase price.
The lawsuit contended that the work of unpaid content providers like bloggers gave The Huffington Post much of its value, and that the website’s sale allowed co-founder Arianna Huffington to profit at their expense. Tasini said he alone had made 216 submissions to the website over more than five years.
But Koeltl said “no one forced” the bloggers to repeatedly provide their work with no expectation of being paid, and said they got what they bargained for when their works were published.
“The principles of equity and good conscience do not justify giving the plaintiffs a piece of the purchase price when they never expected to be paid, repeatedly agreed to the same bargain, and went into the arrangement with eyes wide open,” the judge wrote.
Cops gave several reasons why medical marijuana dispensaries should be banned in the San Mateo County city just south of San Francisco, according to SF Weekly. One is that 25 indoor pot farms were discovered in Daly City in 2011, according to police. Another is that cannabis patients can drive to San Francisco — or get their medicine delivered. The cops mentioned one service by name.
Not-So-Smooth Operator – Obama increasingly comes across as devious and dishonest – Something’s happening to President Obama’s relationship with those who are inclined not to like his policies. They are now inclined not to like him. His supporters would say, “Nothing new there,” but actually I think there is. I’m referring to the broad, stable, nonradical, non-birther right. Among them the level of dislike for the president has ratcheted up sharply the past few months.
It’s not due to the election, and it’s not because the Republican candidates are so compelling and making such brilliant cases against him. That, actually, isn’t happening.
What is happening is that the president is coming across more and more as a trimmer, as an operator who’s not operating in good faith. This is hardening positions and leading to increased political bitterness. And it’s his fault, too. As an increase in polarization is a bad thing, it’s a big fault.
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.
These are my links for January 30th through February 1st:
HBO’s Game Change portrays “meltdown” Palin – The latest trailer for HBO’s “Game Change” portrays Sarah Palin as natural disaster mistakenly unleashed by the McCain campaign.”Oh my god what have we done.” Woody Harrelson’s Steve Schmidt says, “I can’t control her anymore.” — “She’s on the verge of a complete nervous breakdown.”
Julianne Moore’s Sarah Palin repeats lines like “You can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska.” and “It’s not my fault, I was not properly prepped.” — “I miss my baby, I miss sleeping with my baby.”
At the end she whispers, “We have to win this thing, I so don’t want to go back to Alaska.”
Ted Olson compares Obama to Nixon, McCarthy – President Obama’s first ad of his reelection campaign didn’t mention David and Charles Koch by name, but everyone knows that they are the “secretive oil billionaires” who “attack President Obama” mentioned in the ad’s opening lines. With so much else going on both domestically and internationally kicking off his reelection campaign with a personal attack on private citizens did seem like an odd choice. But former solicitor general of the United States Ted Olson sees some darker forces involved. He writes in today’s Wall Street Journal:Olson doesn’t mention it, but there is a very simple reason Obama is targeting the Koch’s: he can’t run on his record. With unemployment still higher than when he took office, and the Congressional Budget Office now certifying he will fail to cut the deficit in half as he promised, he has no accomplishments to run on. All he can really do is identify villains and ask his supporters to punish them. That is what Obama’s Buffett Rule is really all about. And that is why he is attacking the Koch’s.
Greek PM seeks backing for reforms key to bailout – Greece’s prime minister is calling the country’s political leaders in the next few days to seek backing for more austerity after the International Monetary Fund warned this was key to securing the new bailout Athens needs to avoid a messy default.With a long-delayed deal with private sector creditors to cut Greece’s debt mountain by 100 billion euros nearly wrapped up, the government is now racing to complete talks on the 130-billion euro ($170.18 billion) bailout by the end of the week.
To do so, Athens must first persuade the European Union and IMF – which have grown increasingly exasperated with its repeated failures to meet deficit and reform targets – that it will implement long-delayed reforms and slash spending further.
Dick Lugar: From top target to tea party pal? – Last year, Sen. Dick Lugar was the tea party’s top target — a 35-year veteran who lives in Washington, strays from conservative orthodoxy and even criticized the right-wing movement in the wake of the 2010 elections.But last week, Lugar was the tea party’s dining companion.
Michelle Malkin » For Santorum – Lest we forget, this election is not about choosing a showboat candidate to run against John King or Juan Williams or Wolf Blitzer.It’s not about “raging against” some arbitrarily defined GOP “machine.”
For many grass-roots conservatives across the country, Romney and Gingrich are the machine.
And at this point in the game, Rick Santorum represents the most conservative candidate still standing who can articulate both fiscal and social conservative values — and live them.
Michelle Malkin Endorses Santorum, Torches Newt – For months, super star conservative author and blogger Michelle Malkin has described the Republican presidential primary as a “pageant of the imperfects,” lamenting that the GOP field represents an uninspiring, “nose plugs” choice for conservatives. Despite her public misgivings, she’s finally donned the requisite odor blockers and made her selection: Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. The entire piece is worth a thorough read, but here is a small sampling of Malkin’s pro-Santorum case:
Nevada officials: Luxor guests had Legionnaires’ – Health officials in Las Vegas said Monday that the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease was found in water samples at the Luxor hotel-casino this month after a guest died of the form of pneumonia.The Southern Nevada Health District said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention national surveillance program reported three cases in the past year of Luxor guests being diagnosed with the disease caused by Legionella bacteria.
The Las Vegas Strip resort’s water was tested after the first two cases were reported during the spring of last year, but no Legionella bacteria was detected, district officials said. Those guests recovered.
Officials say the Luxor, owned by MGM Resorts International, immediately began a remediation process once the bacteria was found.
MGM Resorts spokesman Gordon Absher said treatment procedures include superheating and super-chlorination of the water system.