These are my links for December 29th through January 2nd:
Can the Republican party survive any more McConnell-brokered deals? – Mitch McConnell has many virtues as a legislator. Unfortunately, brokering deals advantageous to Republicans is not one of them.McConnell’s defenders will say that his most recent deal was the best any Republican could do under the circumstances. Perhaps. But this defense ignores the fact that it was McConnell’s prior deal — the one creating the “fiscal cliff” — that established these adverse circumstances.Let’s step back and consider the impact of McConnell’s deals on the valiant effort of House Republicans in 2011 to use the debt-ceiling to attack the debt. So far, the results are as follows: (1) the debt ceiling was raised, (2) the debt continued to soar, (3) the latest McConnell-brokered deal will increase, rather than decrease, the debt, and (4) taxes are about to go up.
The McConnell Tax Hike – The McConnell Tax Hike will become law of the land. Mitch McConnell can and should take responsibility for it.The McConnell Tax Hike raises taxes on people making over $400,000.00, but it also raises taxes on the middle class. “More than 80 percent of households with incomes between $50,000 and $200,000 would pay higher taxes.”Not only does the McConnell Tax Hike stick it to the middle class, it raises taxes $41 for every $1 in spending cuts. Those spending cuts are ephemeral as there is $330 billion in new spending and a $4 trillion price tag over the next ten years.
Both Hollywood and NASCAR get carve outs. So too do wind energy companies.
The Republican Establishment in Washington, DC should be burned to the ground and salt spread on the remains. Republicans who saw Mitch McConnell and John Boehner destroy the last plank of the Republican Party are going to need to look elsewhere for a savior for their party. Boehner and McConnell have declared they will survive. Their party? They don’t really care.
Conservatives must look elsewhere. I do not advocate a third party. I advocate bring fresh blood into the GOP.
Senate-Passed Deal Means Higher Tax on 77% of Households – The budget deal passed by the U.S. Senate today would raise taxes on 77.1 percent of U.S. households, mostly because of the expiration of a payroll tax cut, according to preliminary estimates from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center in Washington.More than 80 percent of households with incomes between $50,000 and $200,000 would pay higher taxes. Among the households facing higher taxes, the average increase would be $1,635, the policy center said. A 2 percent payroll tax cut, enacted during the economic slowdown, is being allowed to expire as of yesterday.
The fiscal cliff deal that almost wasn’t – House Speaker John Boehner couldn’t hold back when he spotted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the White House lobby last Friday.It was only a few days before the nation would go over the fiscal cliff, no bipartisan agreement was in sight, and Reid had just publicly accused Boehner of running a “dictatorship” in the House and caring more about holding onto his gavel than striking a deal.“Go f— yourself,” Boehner sniped as he pointed his finger at Reid, according to multiple sources present.
Reid, a bit startled, replied: “What are you talking about?”
Boehner repeated: “Go f— yourself.”
The harsh exchange just a few steps from the Oval Office — which Boehner later bragged about to fellow Republicans — was only one episode in nearly two months of high-stakes negotiations laced with distrust, miscommunication, false starts and yelling matches as Washington struggled to ward off $500 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts.
The White House and Congress knew of the self-imposed deadline for more than 17 months and they still blew past it, as a president fresh off a strong reelection victory tested — and ultimately broke — the Republican Party’s fidelity to its tax-cuts-only governing philosophy.
It took a late intervention of two Senate veterans — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Vice President Joe Biden — to rescue the negotiations. Their relationship, forged over two decades on Capitol Hill, helped move Congress to a resolution because it wasn’t burdened by the raw political conflicts of the past and the legislative fights still to come.
How the House Voted on Fiscal Cliff Legislation – Most House Republicans voted against the final fiscal cliff deal late Tuesday night, while just 16 Democrats joined them.A few notes from the votes:* The bill easily passed 257-167, with 217 votes needed for passage. Democrats voted 172-16 in favor while Republicans votes 151-85 against.
* GOP leadership was split. While House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) and 2012 vice presidential nominee and Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.) voted yes, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) voted no.
* Ryan’s vote is noteworthy because another major 2016 presidential contender, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), was one of just eight senators to vote no early Tuesday morning, as did another potential presidential candidate, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
* Other no votes included GOP firebrands Reps. Allen West (Fla.), Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and Joe Walsh (Ill.). West and Walsh lost reelection in November, while Bachmann narrowly won.
* GOP Senate candidate Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) voted no. She is a top hope for Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s (D-W.Va.) seat.
Silent sub: Russian noiseless Borei class nuclear submarine immersed – Super-modern, powerful and almost noiseless Russian nuclear submarine Vladimir Monomakh has been put in water to become the third ship of the Borei project. The cruiser is about to begin sea trials and mooring to become fully operational in 2013.Vladimir Monomakh was laid down at Russia’s largest shipbuilding complex Sevmash, located on the shores of the White Sea in the town of Severodvinsk in northern Russia on March 19, 2006 – the 100th anniversary of the Russian submarine fleet.Borei-class submarine
Length: 170 m
Beam: 13.5 m
Draught: 10 m
Test depth: 450 m
14,720 tons surfaced
24,000 tons submerged
Speed: 29 knots (54 km/h)
Complement: 107 (55 officers)
Armament: 16-20 × Bulava SLBMs
6 × 533 mm torpedo tubes
It belongs to a class of missile strategic submarine cruisers with a new generation of nuclear reactor, which allows the submarine to dive to a depth of 480 meters. It can spend up to three months in autonomous navigation and, thanks to the latest achievements in the reduction of noise, it is almost silent compared to previous generations of submarines.
The submarine is armed with the new missile system, which has from 16 to 20 solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles Bulava (SS-NX-30 by NATO classification). The rocket is able to overcome any prospective missile defense system.
Hillary Clinton ‘in hospital’ with blood clot – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been admitted to hospital in New York with a blood clot, officials say.Mrs Clinton suffered a concussion earlier this month after fainting and falling down.At the time, she was reported to have had a stomach virus and to have passed out after becoming dehydrated.
Mrs Clinton is due to stand down as secretary of state before US President Barack Obama officially begins his second term in January.
Doctors discovered the clot during a follow-up examination on Sunday, her spokesman Philippe Reines said.
Mrs Clinton is being treated with anti-coagulants. She was admitted to New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where she will remain for the next 48 hours so that doctors can monitor her medication.
Pentagon Readying 800,000 for Rolling Layoffs – The Pentagon is preparing to notify its entire civilian workforce to prepare for furloughs if Congress and President Barack Obama are unable to reach a deal before Jan. 2 to avert automatic spending cuts.A senior defense official said Sunday that the Pentagon would notify 800,000 civilian workers to brace for furloughs in the new year, meaning the workers would be ordered to take mandatory leave without pay for a certain period. The warning is much gloomier than the agency recently offered employees, as it had said there wouldn’t be an immediate impact on personnel or operations if a deal wasn’t reached by January.But the senior official said that notices would go out soon after sequestration took effect. The official didn’t know when the first layoffs would take place, but said they weren’t likely to happen immediately.
The Pentagon must notify Congress of the possible layoffs because of labor laws requiring advance notice, the official said.
In a letter to employees before the December holidays, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta promised that other options for cutting costs would be examined before officials resort to layoffs and that sequestration “would not necessarily require immediate reductions in spending.”
GOP Sen. Cornyn will oppose Hagel nomination – Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), the Republican whip, told me in a phone interview this morning he would oppose the nomination of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense: “I can’t support a Hagel nomination if it comes,” he said. He is the first senator to expressly state he would oppose Hagel. He told me he thinks there would be substantial opposition to Hagel on both sides of the aisle. “I’ve heard prominent Democrats concerned about his position on Israel. Many Republican have said they did not want to prejudge. But it would be a bad move and one of the reasons I’ve taken the position [to oppose]. ‘Mr. President don’t do that. It would be a bad nomination.’”
As ‘fiscal cliff’ looms, Republicans have no political incentive to make deal with Obama – That mentality means that for the vast majority of Republicans in Congress, a deal is more dangerous than no deal. A deal creates the possibility of a primary challenge from their ideological right in districts and even states that, by and large, went heavily against Obama in November. No deal means they might — with the emphasis on “might” — face some blow back from constituents who want them to get something done for the good of the country and put the partisanship and politics aside.And so, if you are wondering why congressional Republicans won’t, in the words of Obama, just “take the deal,” now you know. They have every political reason not to.
Why the War Party Fears Hagel – Neocon hostility to Hagel is rooted in a fear that in Obama’s inner councils his voice would be raised in favor of negotiating with Iran and against a preventive war or pre-emptive strike. But if Obama permits these assaults to persuade him not to nominate Hagel, he will only be postponing a defining battle of his presidency, not avoiding it.For Bibi Netanyahu is going to be re-elected this January. And the government he forms looks to be more bellicose than the last. And Bibi’s highest priority, shared by his neocon allies, is a U.S. war on Iran in 2013.If Obama does not want that war, he is going to have to defeat the war party. Throwing an old warrior like Chuck Hagel over the side to appease these wolves is not the way to begin this fight.
Nominate him, Mr. President. Let’s get it on.
Latest on the fiscal cliff: Major setback – Negotiations between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have suffered a “major setback” after Republicans demanded the inclusion of new method for calculating entitlement benefits as part of the fiscal cliff package, according to Democratic sources.The provision, known as “chained CPI,” is opposed by many progressives because it would result in lower payments for Social Security beneficiaries.
These are my links for November 21st through November 26th:
Democrats Unlikely to Regain House in 2014– “In midterm election years since World War II, the president’s party has lost an average of 26 seats in the House … The president’s party gained seats only twice, in 1998 and 2002. … [W]hat we observe in the data … is a ‘reverse coattails’ effect. When a party wins the presidency by a large margin, it usually benefits from voters who are mainly interested in the presidential election itself, and then vote for the same party in races down the ballot. These types of voters may not show up to vote in midterm years. Thus, the more a party benefits from presidential coattails in the presidential election year, the more it stands to lose two years later. … Midterm losses for the president’s party have been somewhat more modest in recent years than during the middle part of the 20th century. This potentially reflects the fact that more Congressional districts have strongly partisan makeups now, leaving fewer seats in play. As 2010 demonstrated, however, no firewall is all that robust in the event of a wave election year.”That Mr. Obama won the presidency by a relatively narrow margin this year and that Democrats do not control the House would argue against a wave election … This year, there were only 11 House seats that Democrats lost by five or fewer percentage points. Thus, even if they had performed five points better across the board, they would still have come up … short of controlling the chamber. In other words, Democrats would have to perform quite a bit better in House races in 2014 than they did in 2012 to win control of the chamber … And … Democrats … have become increasingly reliant upon voters, like Hispanics and those under the age of 30, who do not turn out reliably in midterm election years. Democrats have a broader coalition than Republicans do in high-turnout environments, so perhaps this will benefit them in 2016. But these are not the voters you would want to depend upon to make gains in midterm election years, when turnout is much lower. “
How Hillary Clinton’s choices predict her future– On a recent Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton walked with her husband onto a stage at the New York Sheraton to cheers and whoops and a standing ovation that only got louder as she tried to quiet things down.It was a friendly crowd — the annual meeting of her husband’s foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative — and people may have been eager to hear her speech about using U.S. aid to target investment barriers such as old land tenure laws. But really, they were there to see her.“She’s just looked so sad and so tired,” said Ritu Sharma, a women’s rights activist, referring to Clinton’s appearances in the days after the attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.They wanted to defend her, to rave about her, to say how sick they were of people talking about her hair, and then to talk about her hair, which, several men and women offered, definitely looked best in a simple chignon.
Mostly, though, people wondered what the woman walking across the stage — now smiling as a soaring, presidential-sounding score began playing — would choose to do next. Maybe now, in her final months in office, she would provide a clue.
Democratic super PACs get jump on 2014, 2016– Winning changes everything.It took Democrats a while to warm up to super PACs, but their glee over 2012 is — for now — eclipsing any moral qualms about big money eroding democracy, and they’re already busy at work courting their wealthiest supporters and planning even more ambitious efforts for future elections.Shortly after Election Day, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and top White House aides spoke at a three-day secret meeting of major Democratic donors and officials from liberal outside groups gearing up for 2014, POLITICO has learned.Among the groups represented: Priorities USA Action, the super PAC that is vowing to remain a player in Democratic politics, even though President Barack Obama won’t run for office again; American Bridge 21st Century, the oppo shop that helped sink Missouri Rep. Todd Akin’s GOP Senate bid; the Pelosi-backed House Majority PAC; the secret-money organizing nonprofit America Votes; and the pro-choice group EMILY’s List.
Obama faces huge challenge in setting up health insurance exchanges– The Obama administration faces major logistical and financial challenges in creating health insurance exchanges for states that have declined to set up their own systems.The exchanges were designed as the centerpiece of President Obama’s signature law, and are intended to make buying health insurance comparable to booking a flight or finding a compatible partner on Match.com.Sixteen states — most of them governed by Republicans — have said they will not set up their own systems, forcing the federal government to come up with one instead.Another five states said they want a federal-state partnership, while four others are considering partnerships.
It’s a situation no one anticipated when the Affordable Care Act was written. The law assumed states would create and operate their own exchanges, and set aside billions in grants for that purpose.
ObamaCare Faces the Implementation Iceberg– Defenders of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, can be forgiven for some post-election triumphalism. But their joy is likely to be short lived. Because the law put off implementation of most key provisions until after the 2012 election, voters cast their ballots on November 6 without knowing what Obamacare’s true effect will be on their tax bills, insurance costs, or access to care.Delaying implementation until 2014 helped the president win re-election, but now the bill is coming due. The administration can’t forestall Obamacare’s massive regulatory impact any longer, and the result will keep Congress and the media occupied for months and years to come.
How the Implementation of Obamacare Will Make the GOP a Majority Party– As we get closer to the day when Obamacare moves from threat to reality, it seems probable that the resulting catastrophe for tens of thousands of businesses, as well as the massive increase in premiums for many families, will propel Republicans to majority status in 2014.How many businesses will be forced to close shop? How many will cut back on the number of employees to stay in business? How many will refuse to expand, unable to handle the increased costs?How many jobs will Obamacare cost?
House elections 2014: Democrats face uphill slog– Nancy Pelosi decided to take one more crack at winning back the House, but a big obstacle stands between the Democratic leader and the speaker’s gavel in 2014: the six-year itch.Pelosi’s party will be swimming against the riptide of history. The party controlling the White House during a president’s sixth year in office has lost seats in every midterm election but one since 1918, when Woodrow Wilson occupied the Oval Office. And the setbacks typically aren’t small: The average loss in these elections was 30 seats. The exception was 1998, when a soaring economy and Republicans’ focus on President Bill Clinton’s affair helped Democrats buck the trend and pick up a handful of seats.
West Virginia Sen: GOP’s Capito Plans 2014 Rockefeller Challenge– West Virginia Republican Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito will announce Monday morning that she is running in 2014 for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Jay Rockefeller.Capito has long considered a run for the Senate, and passed on the most recent opportunity following the death of long-time Senator Robert Byrd. She’s expected to say, among other things, that the timing is now right for her run.The announcement sets up a potential race between two West Virginia political heavyweights.Rockefeller, 75, is serving his fifth term in the Senate. Prior to that he served two terms as Governor. In Washington, he has championed issues affecting children and families.
Rockefeller has indicated that he plans to run for re-election in 2014, but there continues to be speculation that he may retire at the end of this term.
Rahm Emanuel: How to rebuild America – The Democratic Agenda– Too much post-election analysis has focused on voter demographics and campaign mechanics, leaving Democrats in danger of drawing the wrong lessons from our electoral success.Demographics alone are not destiny. There is nothing in this year’s election returns that guarantees Democrats a permanent majority in the years to come. President Obama and the Democratic Party earned the support of key groups — young people, single women, Latinos, African Americans, auto workers in the Rust Belt and millions of other middle-class Americans — because of our ideas.But we cannot expect Republicans to cede the economic argument so readily, or to fall so far short on campaign mechanics, the next time around.So, instead of resting on false assurances of underlying demographic advantages, the Democratic Party must follow through on our No. 1 priority, which the president set when he took office and reemphasized throughout this campaign: It is time to come home and rebuild America.
High Obesity, Caries Documented in Homeless Children– Homeless children have higher rates of caries and obesity than children in the general population, a new study shows.The study, published online November 13 in the Journal of Pediatric Healthcare, showed that rates of caries among children living in shelters for the homeless increased with body mass index (BMI), but this correlation did not reach statistical significance ( P = .08).The researchers speculated that similar dietary factors might contribute to both caries and obesity. “Poor kids don’t have access to nutritious foods,” Marguerite DiMarco, PhD, RN, CPNP, told Medscape Medical News.DiMarco said she had spent decades working with very poor children. “Some families don’t even have a refrigerator to keep milk,” she said. “Some families might not even have running water.”
Medical marijuana for a child with leukemia While Parents Live Off of Her Disability Income and Food Stamps– Mykayla Comstock’s family says marijuana helps her fight an especially aggressive form of leukemia, keeps infection at bay and lifts her weary spirit. Twice a day she swallows a potent capsule form of the drug. Some days, when she can’t sleep or eat, she snacks on a gingersnap or brownie baked with marijuana-laced butter.Mykayla is one of 2,201 cancer patients authorized by the state of Oregon to use medical marijuana.She is 7.
Actor Larry Hagman, notorious and beloved as ‘Dallas’ villain J.R. Ewing, dies– Larry Hagman, the North Texas native who played the conniving and mischievous J.R. Ewing on the TV show Dallas, died Friday at a Dallas hospital. He was 81.Mr. Hagman died at 4:20 p.m. Friday at Medical City Dallas Hospital from complications of his recent battle with cancer, members of his family said.“Larry was back in his beloved Dallas, re-enacting the iconic role he loved most,” the family said in a statement. “Larry’s family and close friends had joined him in Dallas for the Thanksgiving holiday. When he passed, he was surrounded by loved ones. It was a peaceful passing, just as he had wished for. The family requests privacy at this time.”The iconic role of J.R. Ewing metamorphosed Mr. Hagman’s life. He rocketed from being a merely well-known TV actor on I Dream of Jeannie and the son of Broadway legend Mary Martin, to the kind of transnational fame known only by the likes of the Beatles and Muhammad Ali.
Saxby Chambliss takes aim at Grover Norquist– Sen. Saxby Chambliss took aim at Americans for Tax Reform head Grover Norquist on Wednesday, telling a local television station he’s not worried about a potential primary challenge if he votes to raise taxes.“I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge,” said Chambliss, who signed Norquist’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” when he first ran for Senate. “If we do it his way, then we’ll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him about that.”
Gallup Poll: Americans Continue to Adjust Their Ideal Weight Upward – Americans, on average, say their ideal weight is 162 pounds, continuing a trend of increasing estimates of ideal weight since Gallup first asked about it in 1990. The trend in Americans’ self-reported actual weight — now averaging 176 pounds — has shown a similar increase over time.
Restaurant Industry Already Preparing for Obamacare Consequences– Will the restaurant business survive a second Obama term? Can it? Since the president’s reelection earlier this month, four large restaurant chains, Papa Johns, Applebee’s, Denny’s and Darden Restaurants (the company that owns the Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and LongHorn Steakhouse chains) have all recently released statements about their companies’ plans to respond to the increased costs of complying with Obamacare regulations. According to the healthcare law, every full-time employee must be provided with comprehensive medical coverage if the company employs more than 50 full-time workers. If a company refuses to comply, they will be faced with fines of $2,000 per year, per employee, as of January 1, 2014.The announcements from companies grappling with the increased costs of Obamacare have, expectedly, been met with disbelief and consternation by the left, still seemingly unaware of basic economics. Appearing on Fox News Business early last week, Applebee’s CEO Zane Tankel explained the steps his business would have to take in order to stay in operation:The costs of fines or healthcare for dozens of employees per restaurant have the potential to bankrupt individually owned chains across the country. The Applebee’s in New York City would face fines of $600,000 per year if insurance isn’t provided for full-time staff, and estimates for offering federally approved insurance would cost “some millions” across the Applebee’s system. Both scenarios, according to Tankel, “[would] roll back expansion, roll back hiring more people. In the best case scenario [it] would only shrink the labor force minimally.” The restaurant industry, already operating with razor thin margins, doesn’t have the ability to absorb tens of thousands more in healthcare expenditures without a considerable increase in sales. It’s a basic realty of economics: more has to be coming in than going out.The only solution for restaurants that want to stay open and maintain competitive pricing would be to cut employee hours to part-time status. This is the conclusion already reached by several large chains–companies that provide jobs to tens of thousands of working class Americans.
Fake Dentist Preyed on Immigrants, Kissed Patient’s Buttocks– A man accused of sexual battery has been charged for practicing dentistry without a license.Wednesday morning, Davie Police issued a search warrant and arrested the alleged unlicensed dentist, 47-year-old John Collazos, at a warehouse located at 5071 S State Road 7. Police said the Collazos owned and operated a dental supply company out of the warehouse and also performed dental services in the back of the warehouse.Carlos Mier works nearby. “Six months ago, this gentleman opened a dental shop, and I started seeing people come in,” he said. “He always was wearing his mask, and his scrub, like a dental scrub.”According to police, Collazos preyed on undocumented immigrants, and when one woman went to him to have some dental work done he allegedly made kissed her buttocks. Davie Police Captain Dale Engle said, “Back in July, we had a female come forward, hesitantly, but she was concerned about her immigration status, but she was was referred to this individual through an acquaintance. When she came on one of the visits, he made some sexually overt comments and ultimately touched her inappropriately, so she did finally come forward.”
Marco Rubio and the Age of the Earth– Those believers whose sensibilities Rubio was presumably trying to avoid offending would do well to meditate on the words of Saint Augustine, who like most of the greatest minds of historic Christianity insisted that biblical interpretation take place in the light of reason as well as faith:Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of the world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics, and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn … If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren …It is not Marco Rubio’s task in life to solve this problem. But it is a problem, in our age even more than in Augustine’s, and his answer didn’t help.
Waiting for the GOP’s Populist Turn– Dozens of explanations are circulating for why Mitt Romney and a number of Republican Senate candidates lost in the 2012 election.The Republican Party is supposedly too white, too male, and too old. It purportedly does not reach out to minorities, women, and the young. Romney cared more about job creators rather than employees. The Republicans gratuitously picked social fights on abortion and homosexuality that needlessly alienated women, gays, and the young who otherwise might have supported its more important fiscal and national security agendas.It apparently did not get out the white working class vote that wished not just to oppose Obama, but also to rally behind a likeable and personable conservative alternative of like nature. With half of the country on some sort of assistance, 47 million now on food stamps, and with disability insurance morphing into a de facto extension of unemployment insurance, too many voters are invested in the welfare state to vote against its purveyors.
The Illegal Immigration Amnesty Delusion– The amnesty signed into law by the charismatic and popular President Reagan did not bring Hispanic voters into the Republican party; Republican congressional leaders who believe that sending one to President Obama would redound to their benefit are engaged in a defective political calculus. Nor are Hispanics the only group of voters to consider. Blue-collar whites do not appear to have turned out for Republicans in the usual numbers last week. Support for amnesty will not bring them back. If the policy advanced the national interest, that consideration might not matter. It does when supposed political advantage is the argument for the policy.The Republican party and the conservative movement simply are not constituted for ethnic pandering, and certainly will not out-pander the party of amnesty and affirmative action. Republicans’ challenge is to convince Hispanics, blacks, women, gays, etc., that the policies of the Obama administration are inimical to their interests as Americans, not as members of any collegium of grievance. That they have consistently failed to do so suggests that Republican leadership is at least as much in need of reform as our immigration code.
These are my links for October 25th through October 30th:
Gallup: Obama’s Early Vote Advantage Collapses 22-Points Over 2008 – My pal Guy Benson found a juicy nugget that helps to bring more clarity to the news from Gallup yesterday that shows Romney leading Obama in the early vote by a full seven points, 52-45%. Almost exactly four years ago (October 28, 2008), according to Gallup, Obama was massacring John McCain among early voters with a fifteen-point lead, 55-40%. That means, at least according to Gallup, that Obama’s early vote advantage has dropped 22 points when compared to ’08.
NPR: 8-point swing puts Romney in front– A new National Public Radio poll, which had President Obama leading Mitt Romney 51 percent to 44 percent four weeks ago, now has Mitt Romney on top, 48 percent to 47 percent, with the Republican benefiting from his debate performances.The poll found that among likely voters, 34 percent said Romney’s debate performances made them more likely to vote for the challenger while 28 percent said they now are more likely to vote for the president. Among critical independent voters, though, Romney won big, with 37 percent saying they are now more likely to chose him compared to 21 percent for Obama.
AUTO BAILOUT BOMBSHELL: Fiat Says Chrysler, Jeep Production May Move to Italy– Coming hot on the heels of speculation that some Jeep production may be moved to China comes a bombshell from a Bloomberg report. Fiat is now considering moving Chrysler and Jeep production to Italy.According to the piece, “To counter the severe slump in European sales, (Fiat CEO Sergio) Marchionne is considering building Chrysler models in Italy, including Jeeps, for export to North America. The Italian government is evaluating tax rebates on export goods to help Fiat. Marchionne may announce details of his plan as soon as Oct. 30, the people said.”So, let’s be real clear here, we are talking about vehicles that will be built in Italy and exported to America. The evidence is clear that Fiat is looking at ways to move production of vehicles from the US to elsewhere, whether it be China or Italy, costing American jobs. This is becoming indisputable, despite outcries from certain parties to the contrary.
Barack Obama and Other Has-Beens –– And so to Barack Obama.When the history of this administration is written, maybe someone will note the dissonance between the president’s hip persona and his retro ideology. Here was a man who promised a “transformative” presidency. Yet when transformation came, it amounted to a two-pronged attempt to impose, from one side, a version of European social democracy by way of ObamaCare, and from the other side a version of Chinese state-directed “capitalism” by way of the stimulus.As a political matter it may have been Mr. Obama’s good luck that the bankruptcy of both models became obvious only after he had gotten his way legislatively on both. Yet the president’s sagging fortunes have everything to do with his buying into an ideological enthusiasm too late. In a different age, Mr. Obama would have been the guy who went out and bought an Edsel. In this age, Mr. Obama is the guy demanding that you buy an Edsel, too. That car is today called the Volt.Mr. Obama might still squeak by. He has, in addition to incumbency and a vestige of likability, the benefit of a challenger who only found his stride very late in the campaign. But a second term will mean four years of spent ideas packaged in shopworn rhetoric, to be shoved down the national throat by a president with nothing politically to lose.
Presidential Race Dead Even; Romney Maintains Turnout Edge– As the presidential campaign enters its final week, Barack Obama has failed to regain much of the support he lost in the days following the first presidential debate and the race is now even among likely voters: 47% favor Obama while an identical percentage supports Mitt Romney.The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Oct. 24-28 among 1,678 registered voters, including 1,495 likely voters, finds Obama holding a statistically insignificant two-point edge among registered voters: 47% to 45%. This is little different from the 46% to 46% standoff among registered voters observed in early October, in the days following the first debate.When the sample is narrowed to likely voters, the balance of opinion shifts slightly in Romney’s direction, as it did in early October. This reflects Romney’s turnout advantage over Obama, which could loom larger as Election Day approaches. In both October surveys, more Republicans and Republican leaners than Democrats and Democratic leaners are predicted to be likely voters. In September, the gap was more modest.
Poll: Romney, Obama locked in 49-49 tie– President Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney are tied with only a week left before election day, according to the latest Washington Post/ABC News daily tracking poll.The new poll finds each candidate receiving support from 49 percent of likely voters. That represents a 1-point bump for the president who trailed Romney 49-48 in Sunday’s numbers.Romney also has the edge among independent voters who back him 53 to 43 for the president.
Early voting 2012: Poll: Neither has edge – Fifteen percent of registered voters have already cast their ballots, according to a poll released Tuesday.
Neither candidate has an edge among early voters nationally, the Gallup survey found. One-third of Barack Obama backers plan to vote early, as do 34 percent of Romney supporters. So far, 15 percent of Obama voters have shown up at the polls, compared to 17 percent of Romney voters.
House elections spell a Republican story and victory– President Obama remains at least an even bet to win reelection. Democrats are favored to hold on to the Senate — an outcome few prognosticators envisioned at the beginning of the year. And yet, with a little more than a week to go, the party holds almost no chance of winning back the House.“They called the fight. It’s over. We’re going to have a House next year that’s going to look an awful lot like the last House,” Stuart Rothenberg, the independent analyst who runs the Rothenberg Political Report, said.The outlines of a comeback for Democrats seemed possible. From its opening act, the 112th Congress was dominated by a raucous class of House freshmen who pushed Washington to the brink of several government shutdowns and almost prompted a first-ever default on the federal debt. It became the most unpopular Congress in the history of polling and, by some measures, the least productive.
Changing Demographics Won’t Mean the End of Republican Party– When reading one of the endless stories about a just-released poll Thursday night, a pair of numbers struck my eye: 60 and 37.Those were the percentages of white voters supporting Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in the ABC/Washington Post tracking poll. Overall, the poll showed Romney leading Obama 50 to 47 percent.The reason those two numbers struck my eye is that they are identical to the percentages of white voters supporting Republicans and Democrats in elections for the House of Representatives in the 2010 exit poll. Overall, Republicans won the House popular vote by a margin of 52 to 45 percent, tied with 1994 for the best Republican showing since 1946.In fact, it’s the Republicans’ biggest margin among white voters in House elections ever since the party was formed in 1854. Republican presidential candidates have won by bigger margins among whites only in 1920, 1972 and 1984.
Some will ascribe this to racism. But Barack Obama won enough votes from whites to win with 53 percent in 2008, more than any other Democratic nominee except Andrew Jackson, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson.
Why are whites more one-sidedly partisan than just about ever before? Maybe because they’re constantly being told that they’re headed toward becoming a minority of the electorate. Self-conscious minorities tend to vote more cohesively.
Or because they’re the objects of racial discrimination in, among other things, university admissions, as documented by Richard Sandler and Stuart Taylor in their recent book, “Mismatch.”
Obama’s Independent Problem– President Obama has a problem with independents. And it’s not a small problem.In the last three releases of the tracking poll conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News, Obama has trailed former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney among independent voters by between 16 and 20 percentage points.That’s a striking reversal from 2008, when Obama won independent voters, who made up 29 percent of the electorate, by eight points over Sen. John McCain of Arizona.And if Romney’s large margin among independents holds, it will be a break not just from 2008 but also from 2000 and 2004. In 2000, Texas Gov. George W. Bush won independents by 47 percent to 45 percent over Vice President Al Gore. Four years later, Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts essentially split unaffiliated voters, according to exit polls — 48 percent for Bush to 49 percent for Kerry. (Independents made up 27 percent of the vote in 2000 and 26 percent in 2004.)
GOP surprise? Party says Pennsylvania in play– The Republican campaign bus roared into the party headquarters parking lot in this northwestern Pennsylvania town on a chilly afternoon for a rally that had all the trappings of a close contest.Hundreds of people, wearing Romney/Ryan buttons and hats plus one man carrying a “NObama” sign crammed inside the headquarters and cheered loudly as party officials blasted President Barack Obama. Volunteers busily manned telephone banks imploring people to vote.Why the Republican hubbub in a state that’s voted Democratic in presidential elections for two decades? They think it might be in play. Obama leads Romney in Pennsylvania polls by an average of 4.8 percentage points, according to the nonpartisan Web site RealClearPolitics.com. He led by as much as 12 points earlier this year. And he led by 10.8 points at this stage four years ago.
Gallup daily: Romney leads Obama 50-46 among likely voters– Mitt Romney leads President Obama by 4 points, according to the latest Gallup daily tracking poll, released Sunday.The survey finds Romney at 50 percent support among likely voters to Obama’s 46. The numbers show a 1-point drop over Saturday’s 51 to 46 lead for the GOP nominee.The poll finds Obama up among registered voters, though, with a 48-47 advantage. That figure reflects a 1-point loss for Romney from Saturday, where the two presidential contenders were tied at 48 percent.Gallup’s poll is a rolling seven-day average through Saturday Oct. 27 and includes 5 days of survey data after the third and final presidential debate held last Monday in Boca Raton, Fla.
The Gallup survey has shown larger leads for Romney compared to other polls of likely voters, with surveys putting Romney ahead by 5 to 7 points for much of last week.
The Real Clear Politics Average of polls on Sunday showed Romney ahead, but by a slimmer 47.9 percent to 47 margin.
Food labeling initiative Proposition 37 sliding in the polls– Proposition 37, which asks voters to require labels on genetically engineered food sold in California, is dropping in the polls as the well-funded opposition campaign pounds airwaves and mailboxes with arguments against the measure.A USC Dornsife / Los Angeles Times poll released today shows 44 percent of surveyed voters support the initiative, down from 61 percent in September. The same poll shows those opposing it growing from 25 percent to 42 percent.Those results are similar to recent polls released by Pepperdine University and the California Business Round Table, which showed support this month at 48 percent, down from 67 percent in September.The No on 37 campaign has raised $35.6 million, according to MapLight, while the Yes campaign has raised $7.7 million. The opposition is funded largely by companies that make pesticides and genetically modified seeds that contain pesticides. They are running multiple television ads arguing that Proposition 37 would raise grocery prices and that genetically engineered food is safe.
In response to the polls, the No campaign sent a press release saying, “the more voters know about what Prop 37 would really do, the more they take a dim view of it.”
These are my links for July 25th through July 26th:
Obamacare falling short already– The unintended, convoluted and costly consequences of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law are about to be realized. Obamacare was rushed through Congress in 2010 despite almost no one knowing what the 2,700-page law provided, apart from a vague promise to make health care more affordable and accessible.This week, the Congressional Budget Office said that, because the U.S. Supreme Court, in ruling last month to validate most of the Affordable Care Act, allowed states to opt out of the law’s expansion of Medicaid, about 3 million fewer people will end up insured than originally estimated. This is guesswork because the CBO admits no one knows how many states will opt out. We believe many, if not all, states controlled by Republican legislatures and governors will opt out.
Government Did Not Build Your Business – “If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen,” declared President Barack Obama at a campaign stop last week in Virginia. Evidently, the president believes that economic growth and job creation are largely the result of actions taken by benevolent government agencies. But while it is certainly the case that good governance is essential, entrepreneurs engaging in voluntary cooperation coordinated through competition in free markets is what actually creates wealth and jobs. In the Virginia speech, the president also observed, “Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.” As parts of “this unbelievable American system” that “allowed” businesses to “thrive,” the president cited “a great teacher” and that “somebody invested in roads and bridges.” With regard to building a business, the nebulous “somebody” who “made that happen” is, of course, government.
Shifting Dynamics Favor G.O.P.– Since 2006, members of the House have faced electoral waves that swept away scores of incumbents.But the 2012 struggle for control of the House is shaping up less as a partisan surge than as a series of squalls, in which the outcome will largely depend on individual survival skills rather than a national movement.In New York, Dan Maffei, a Democrat, hopes to snag back a seat he lost two years ago, while Representative Kathy Hochul, a Democrat who won in a special election last year, is trying desperately to hang on. In California, a nonpartisan primary and an expensive member-against-member contest between two Democrats, Brad Sherman and Howard Berman, have muddled the outlook in a state where Democrats had high hopes.
No Building Permits for Opponent of Same-Sex Marriage– But denying a private business permits because of such speech by its owner is a blatant First Amendment violation. Even when it comes to government contracting — where the government is choosing how to spend government money —the government generally may not discriminate based on the contractor’s speech, see Board of County Commissioners v. Umbehr (1996). It is even clearer that the government may not make decisions about how people will be allowed to use their own property based on the speaker’s past speech.And this is so even if there is no statutory right to a particular kind of building permit (and I don’t know what the rule is under Illinois law). Even if the government may deny permits to people based on various reasons, it may not deny permitsAmendment rights. It doesn’t matter if the applicant expresses speech that doesn’t share the government officials’ values, or even the values of the majority of local citizens. It doesn’t matter if the applicant’s speech is seen as “disrespect[ful]” of certainpeople’s rights to express such views without worrying that the government will deny them business permits as a result. That’s basic First Amendment law — but Alderman Moreno, Mayor Menino, and, apparently, Mayor Emanuel (if his statement is quoted in context), seem to either not know or not care about the law.
Chick-fil-A Blocked From Opening Second Chicago Store– A Chicago politician said he will block Chick-fil-A from opening a restaurant in his ward, following anti-gay marriage remarks by the fast food chain’s president.Alderman Joe Moreno, who represents Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood, plans to use his aldermanic privilege, a Chicago tradition in which City Council members defer to aldermen on local matters, to block the restaurant’s permit.”It’s a very diverse ward– economically, racially, and diverse in sexual orientation,” Moreno told ABCNews.com. “We’ve got thriving businesses and we want more but at the very least don’t discriminate against our LGBTQ folks.”Moreno is not alone in standing up to the fast food restaurant, whose president Dan Cathy came under scrutiny after he told the Baptist Press he was “guilty as charged” when it came to supporting “the biblical definition of the family unit.”
The Battle for Ballot Integrity in Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania is, for the moment, ground zero in the battle over voter fraud. In March, Pennsylvania’s legislature enacted a law that requires identification for voting. The ACLU has sued to enjoin enforcement of the law; a trial on its lawsuit began today and is expected to last for around a week. This illustrates how low the ACLU has fallen. Voting illegally–that’s a “civil right!” But how about not having your vote canceled by the ballot of an illegal voter? Is that a civil right? Naahh.
Conservatives urge Cantor to push spending fight into 2013– House conservatives urged Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to back a stopgap spending bill that would extend into 2013 and take the issue of government funding off the table during the election and the jammed lame-duck session this fall.Cantor attended a meeting Wednesday of the conservative Republican Study Committee, where lawmakers voiced support for passing a long-term continuing resolution when federal funding runs out at the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.While conservatives led a fight for deep spending cuts in a continuing resolution in 2011, they are worried that Democrats will draw them into a battle that could lead to a government shutdown in October, right before the November elections. They also want a stopgap measure to extend beyond the end of the year so that Democrats cannot use it as leverage in a broader fight over expiring tax rates and automatic spending cuts.
Pat Buchanan wants Palin to speak at convention– Echoing Jim DeMint, it’s Pat Buchanan, after Greta Van Susteren asked Wednesday night whom he’d like to speak at the Republican convention.Buchanan:”I’ll tell you who I like — your buddy and my favorite, Sarah Palin.I would say to Governor Romney at the convention: ‘Look, let’s not have a boring convention…. why don’t you bring in all the voices of the party and say ‘Look, you may not agree with this folks and that folks, but we are all united behind Governor Romney’.”
These are my links for July 18th through July 19th:
Post Office Might Miss Retirees’ Payment– While lawmakers continue to fight over how to fix the ailing U.S. Postal Service, the agency’s money problems are only growing worse.The Postal Service repeated on Wednesday that without congressional action, it will default—a first in its long history, a spokesman said—on a legally required annual $5.5 billion payment, due Aug. 1, into a health-benefits fund for future retirees. Action in Congress isn’t likely, as the House prepares to leave for its August recess.The agency said a default on the payment, for 2011, wouldn’t directly affect service or its ability to pay employees and suppliers. But “these ongoing liquidity issues unnecessarily undermine confidence in the viability of the Postal Service among our customers,” said spokesman David Partenheimer.
The agency says it will default on its 2012 retiree health payment as well—also roughly $5.5 billion, due Sept. 30—if there is no legislative action by then.
Economic Fears Hurting Obama, Poll Indicates – Declining confidence in the nation’s economic prospects appears to be the most powerful force influencing voters as the presidential election gears up, undercutting key areas of support for President Obama and helping give his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, an advantage on the question of who would better handle the nation’s economic challenges, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.
Obama, Romney in dead heat in presidential race– President Obama and Mitt Romney are effectively tied in the race for the presidency, according to a new CBS News/New York Times survey.Forty-seven percent of registered voters nationwide who lean towards a candidate back Romney, while 46 percent support the president. Four percent are undecided. The one percentage point difference is within the survey’s three point margin of error.Romney leads by eight points among men; the president leads by five points among women.
The president’s supporters are more likely to strongly back their candidate. Fifty-two percent strongly favor Mr. Obama, while just 29 percent of Romney voters strongly back the presumptive Republican nominee.
More than one in three Romney voters say they are supporting Romney primarily because they dislike Mr. Obama. Only eight percent of Obama supporters say their support for the president is tied to their dislike of Romney.
Weekly Unemployment Benefit Claims Post Rebound; Jobs Market Still in Doldrums– The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rebounded last week, pushing them back to levels consistent with modest job growth after a seasonal quirk caused a sharp drop the prior period.Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 34,000 to a seasonally adjusted 386,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The prior week’s figure was revised up to 352,000 from the previously reported 350,000.Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 365,000 last week. The four-week moving average for new claims, a better measure of labor market trends, fell 1,500 to 375,500.
Claims data is volatile in July because of the timing of the annual auto plant shutdowns for retooling.
Obama Believes Success Is a Gift From Government– Perhaps the rain made the teleprompter unreadable. That’s one thought I had on pondering Barack Obama’s comments to a rain-soaked rally in Roanoke, Va., last Friday.Perhaps he didn’t really mean what he said. Or perhaps — as is often the case with people — when unanchored from a prepared text he revealed what he really thinks.”There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back,” he began, defending his policy of higher tax rates on high earners. “They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.
In Fight for the House, the Trajectory Is Clear– House races often don’t start getting attention until after Labor Day. But with the presidential contest sucking the air out of the political environment and defining the electoral landscape, House candidates may find they have an even harder time than usual defining themselves and their opponents.That means the existing trajectory of the fight for the House may be harder and harder to change as Labor Day approaches, creating a growing problem for House Democrats who continue to insist that the House is “in play.”Democratic strategists need a dramatic shift in the House playing field if they are going to have any chance of netting the 25 seats they need to regain a majority in the House of Representatives. And that outcome looks increasingly remote.
Right now, the outlook for the House is anywhere from a small GOP gain to a modest Democratic gain in the single digits — not close to what Democrats hoped for as the cycle began
The chart that shows just how much reelection trouble Obama is in– A daisy chain of political disaster seems to be forming for President Obama, says political analyst Dan Clifton at Strategas Research. Clifton suggests that “there seems to be a relationship between consumer confidence and whether a president gets reelected. The current levels of confidence are consistent with Carter and George H. W. Bush when they lost reelection.”That conclusion is displayed in the above chart.
Governor Brown signs California high-speed rail bill, calls critics ‘NIMBYs,’ ‘fearful men’– With his most public cheerleading yet for California’s bullet train, Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed the $8 billion bill to kick off high-speed rail construction and showed no sign he was worried about voters’ increasing skepticism for the rail line.Calling naysayers “NIMBYs,” “fearful men,” and “declinists,” the governor celebrated a project that he first signed a bill to study 30 years ago.”It’s taken that long to get this going,” he said, flanked by dignitaries and construction workers at the site of San Francisco’s future Transbay Terminal. “You may not be around when it’s finished.”
Brown’s day-long, dual-city signature event began at Union Station in Los Angeles and was followed by the gala in San Francisco. The locations were fitting in many ways since the stations will serve as the two endpoints of the $69 billion line, though Brown had to fly between events.
American Crossroads Comes to Romney’s Defense– The super PAC American Crossroads is giving Mitt Romney a helping hand with a new ad, criticizing President Obama on his “misleading” attacks on the presumptive Republican nominee, the Wall Street Journal reports.The 30-second ad is part of an $8.8 million buy that is going out in nine states. Most of the group’s attacks on the president have focused on his record and government spending. The Journal reports this is the first such ad from Crossroads that comes to Romney’s defense.“What happened to Barack Obama?” the narrator asks. “The press, and even Democrats, say his attacks on Mitt Romney’s business record are ‘misleading, unfair and untrue.’”
With high unemployment numbers, the ad says that Obama “can’t run on that record.”
DNC to stop using Romney horse in attack videos– In the future, the Democratic National Committee will longer use the Romney’s Olympic-bound dressage horse to portray Mitt Romney as “dancing around the issues” because it could be seen as offensive to the GOP candidate’s wife Ann.Nearly 17 hours after they promoted a video linking the GOP presidential candidate’s unwillingness to release years of tax returns to Rafalca, the dancing show horse co-owned by Mrs. Romney attending this summer’s London Olympics, Communications Director Brad Woodhouse said the DNC will no longer “invoke the horse any further to avoid misinterpretation.”
Only 17 or 3 % of lawmakers disclose tax records– With members on both sides of the aisle clamoring for Mitt Romney to release more than two years of tax returns, an overwhelming majority of congressmen are declining to release their own.Over the past three months, McClatchy Newspapers asked all 535 members of the House and Senate to release their tax records. Only 17 — or just over 3 percent — handed over the documents. Another 19 percent said they wouldn’t release them. The remainder didn’t respond to McClatchy’s request.
Poll: Republicans want Condoleezza Rice– Republican voters say former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is their top choice as Mitt Romney’s running mate, a new poll found.Rice garnered 30 percent support, followed by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (19 percent), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (8 percent) and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (8 percent).