These are my links for March 9th through March 12th:
President 2012 GOP Poll Watch: Too close to call in Alabama and Mississippi – Tuesday looks like it’s going to be a close election night in both Mississippi and Alabama. In Mississippi Newt Gingrich is holding on to a slight lead with 33% to 31% for Mitt Romney, 27% for Rick Santorum, and 7% for Ron Paul. And Alabama is even closer with Romney at 31% to 30% for Gingrich, 29% for Santorum, and 8% for Paul.
Gingrich and Santorum are both more popular than Romney in each of these states. In Mississippi Gingrich’s net favorability is +33 (62/29) to +32 for Santorum (60/28) and +10 for Romney (51/41). It’s a similar story in Alabama where Santorum’s at +32 (63/31), Gingrich is at +26 (58/32), and Romney’s at only +13 (53/40).
The reason Romney has a chance to win despite being less popular in both states is the split in the conservative vote. In Mississippi 44% of voters describe themselves as ‘very conservative’ and Romney’s getting only 26% with them. But he’s still in the mix because Gingrich leads Santorum only 35-32 with them. In Alabama where 45% of voters identify as ‘very conservative,’ Romney’s at just 24%. But again he remains competitive overall because his opponents are so tightly packed with those voters, with Santorum at 37% and Gingrich at 31%.
The strip, published on Monday and scheduled to run all week, has been rejected by several papers, while others said they were switching it from the comic section to the editorial page.
In an email exchange with the Guardian, Trudeau expressed dismay over the papers’ decision but was unrepentant, describing as “appalling” and “insane” Republican state moves on women’s healthcare.
Gingrich, Perry deny they seek a joint ticket – Newt Gingrich’s spokesman on Sunday dismissed speculation about a potential Gingrich-Rick Perry ticket being announced before the Republican National Convention in August, saying the two camps have not discussed the idea “at any level.”
A report by Fox News cited “sources close to the Gingrich campaign” saying preliminary conversations about such a ticket have begun with the hopes that pairing the former Speaker of the House and the Texas governor might unite evangelical, tea party and other conservative voters.
But Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond said no one in the campaign has reached out to Perry’s camp about a shared ticket.
Candidate-filing deadline extended in 3 Ventura County districts – The secretary of state has determined that the deadline for candidates to file to run for office will be extended until Wednesday in three political districts that include portions of Ventura County — the 26th Congressional District, the 19th Senate District and the 38th Assembly District.
State law provides for such extensions whenever an incumbent eligible to run for re-election decides not to do so.
The expensive systems were inaugurated last year amid controversy over its worth. A primitive Kassam rocket costs terrorists only a few hundred dollars while each Iron Dome anti-missile missile costs $50,000.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated Saturday night, “We will continue to improve home front defense including by means of additional Iron Dome systems, the effectiveness of which was shown again over the weekend.”
“Game Change” is not a movie about Sarah Palin. And it’s definitely not about staffers like me.
It’s a film about the vast, murky gray area in which the majority of politics takes place. I’m not talking about what you see on television: the speeches, the rallies, the debates. I’m talking about the man-in-the-mirror moments, the decision-making that takes place behind closed doors, with the counsel of very few men and women, and with high stakes and irreversible consequences.
Watching “Game Change” is like reliving the most tumultuous professional roller coaster ride on which I’ve ever been. It brought back the highs – Palin’s surprise selection and her glorious moment on stage at our national convention – and the now well-documented lows.
In the end, it’s also a film about how far great men like John McCain are willing to go in order to serve the country they love. Ultimately, every candidate makes the same calculation he did: ”Whom can I select to help me win, and will that person make a good governing partner if we prevail.”
Movies like “Game Change” bring politics to life in an important way by showing the human beings behind the headlines and the caricatures. And on the eve of another national presidential contest, it’s probably a good idea to remind ourselves that all our candidates are human.
Why Job Growth Is Likely to Slow – If you looked only at the monthly jobs report, you could start getting pretty optimistic about the American economy. The largest, broadest survey of employment — a survey of businesses — shows the best job growth in more than five years over the last 12 months, with the pace mostly accelerating in recent months. The other survey that the Labor Department does — of households — shows even faster job growth, suggesting that the business survey may be understating the economy’s strength.
But the jobs report isn’t the only measure of economic activity, and another major measure — of gross domestic product — doesn’t look quite so cheerful. The most likely situation is that job growth will slow in coming months, economists say, which will make President Obama’s economic narrative a bit more complicated than it now is.
On Friday, Macroeconomic Advisers, one of the most closely watched forecasting firms, reduced its estimate of economic growth in the current quarter to an annual rate of 1.8 percent, from 2 percent. And 1.8 percent growth does not generally lead to very strong job growth. In the fourth quarter of last year, by comparison, the economy grew 3 percent.
Beyond the current quarter, forecasters expect the economy will grow at an annual rate of 2 to 2.5 percent for the rest of the year, according to Bloomberg.
Yes, Scott Walker has governed as he campaigned – With the recall effort against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker heating up, Democrats are recycling the old claim that somehow Walker’s public union reforms came out of nowhere once he took office.
Earlier this week, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that one of the Democrats hoping to challenge Walker, Kathleen Falk, “repeatedly accused Walker of being dishonest during his 2010 campaign, citing as a prime example his decision to all but eliminate collective bargaining for most public workers even though he didn’t talk about it during his run for office.”
To be sure, the eventual budget repair bill did include measures that weren’t specifically proposed during the campaign, but it’s typical to campaign on broad outlines and fill in the specifics when elected. The bottom line is that Walker’s reforms shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anybody. For more, check out this still relevant February 2011 Stephen Hayes piece.
Government Accountability Board director Kevin Kennedy said in a memo to the full board that those dates make the most sense given the work that remains to be done verifying signatures on recall petitions and other timing concerns related to the proximity of the April 3 presidential primary election.
The full board was to discuss the issue Monday and if it agrees, ask a Dane County judge for more time on Wednesday.
The attorney for Democrats who launched the recall efforts said he would oppose the request in court.
“That seems totally unreasonable and unnecessary and it would change the character of the election,” attorney Jeremy Levinson said. Democrats have consistently argued the recalls should be held as soon as possible.
Republican Party spokesman Ben Sparks refused to comment on the proposed election dates. Instead, he reiterated the party’s position that multiple recalls be held on the same dates to cut down on election expenses. The elections board has also advocated for scheduling only two election dates.
Under the judge’s order currently in place, any primary elections would take place May 1 and the general election would happen May 29.
The real unemployment rate? It sure isn’t 8.3% – Even if it were a legit number, the 8.3% February unemployment rate, released today by the Labor Department, would be simply terrible—and unacceptable. It would still extend the longest streak of 8%-plus unemployment since the Great Depression. The U.S. economy hasn’t been below 8% unemployment since Obama took office in January 2009. And back in May 2007, unemployment was just 4.4%.
But, unfortunately, the true measure of U.S. unemployment is much, much worse.
1. If the size of the U.S. labor force as a share of the total population was the same as it was when Barack Obama took office—65.7% then vs. 63.9% today—the U-3 unemployment rate would be 10.8%.
2. But what if you take into the account the aging of the Baby Boomers, which means the labor force participation (LFP) rate should be trending lower. Indeed, it has been doing just that since 2000. Before the Great Recession, the Congressional Budget Office predicted what the LFP would be in 2012, assuming such demographic changes. Using that number, the real unemployment rate would be 10.4%.
These are my links for February 29th through March 1st:
National GOP: Romney 40%, Santorum 24%, Gingrich 16%, Paul 12% – Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, coming off his primary wins in Arizona and Michigan, has jumped to a 16-point lead over Rick Santorum in the battle for the Republican presidential nomination. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Republican Primary Voters shows Romney with 40% support to 24% for the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania. This is Romney’s biggest lead to date and the highest level of support any GOP candidate has earned in regular surveying of the race. Two weeks ago, it was Santorum 39%, Romney 27%.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich earns 16% support, closely followed by Texas Congressman Ron Paul at 12%. Two percent (2%) prefer some other candidate, and six percent (6%) are undecided. The new findings mark virtually no change in national support for Gingrich and Paul.
Bob Kerrey running for Senate in Nebraska – Climbing down from the fence, Democrat Bob Kerrey said Wednesday that he will run for his old Senate seat from Nebraska, soon to be vacated by retiring Sen. Ben Nelson and a major target for Republicans who hope to win control of the chamber in November.
The decision comes on the heels of Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe’s surprise announcement Tuesday to not seek re-election in Maine. And the twin events breathe new life into Democratic hopes of holding onto the Senate.
Santorum Leads Big in Tennessee – A new Middle Tennessee State University poll shows Rick Santorum way ahead in next week’s Tennessee GOP primary with 40%, followed by Mitt Romney at 19%, Newt Gingrich at 13% and Ron Paul at 11%.
Odds of a Brokered Convention Are Increasing – We’re finally close enough to Super Tuesday to get a sense of how the overall delegate count might work out in the GOP primary. The end result: Assuming that none of the four candidates drops out of the race, it looks increasingly as if no one will be able to claim a majority of the delegates. The candidate with the best chance is Mitt Romney, but he probably wouldn’t be able to wrap up the nomination until May or even June. The other candidates will probably have to hope for a brokered convention.
US Stocks: Stocks Add to Losses Amid Bernanke Speech – Bernanke said the job market is still “far from normal” and may require the Fed to launch more stimulus measures, in his semi-annual monetary policy report to Congress. (CNBC.com is streaming this event live.)
Bernanke also added rising gasoline prices will likely push up inflation temporarily, while reducing consumers’ purchasing power.
Chu: DOE working to wean U.S. off oil, not lower prices – The Energy Department isn’t working to lower gasoline prices directly, Secretary Steven Chu said Tuesday after a Republican lawmaker scolded him for his now-infamous 2008 comment that gas prices in the U.S. should be as high as in Europe.
Instead, DOE is working to promote alternatives such as biofuels and electric vehicles, Chu told House appropriators during a hearing on DOE’s budget.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy accused House Leader Linda Upmeyer of failing to properly inform legislators about planned debate today on the bills. The short notice hindered Democrats from offering amendments to improve the bills, McCarthy said.
But Upmeyer, R-Garner, shot back this morning that Democrats did have adequate warning, and suggested their flight from the Capitol was an attempt to make a political scene.
“Iowans didn’t send us down here just to do easy stuff,” she said. “The Second Amendment is a question that many Iowans would like placed before them. I don’t know why they’re afraid to have a debate on a subject just because they don’t like the subject. That seems ludicrous to me.”
One bill would alter the state constitution to specifically include gun rights. Another would rewrite the law on “reasonable force” so that a person may use force — including deadly force — against someone who they believe threatens to kill or cause serious injury or who is committing a violent felony.
In separate communications Feb. 23, ADA officials urged the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to table or vote against S. 1461, and the Association joined dental, other health, religious and social organizations expressing “our strong opposition” to the bill in a letter to the full Senate.
The 2009 ADA-supported Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act authorizes FDA regulation of the manufacture, marketing and distribution of tobacco products. The proposed S. 1461, the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2012, would prohibit the FDA from promulgating any regulations involving certain types of cigars.
“There is a strong association between cigar smoking and mortality from oral (mouth) and pharyngeal (throat) cancers,” the Association told the HELP Committee bipartisan leadership in a letter signed by Dr. William R. Calnon, president, and Dr. Kathleen T. O’Loughlin, executive director. “About 8 out of 10 people with mouth and throat cancers use tobacco. Smokers are many times more likely than non-smokers to develop these cancers and the risk increases with the amount smoked and the duration of the habit. On average, 40 percent of those with the disease will not survive more than five years after being diagnosed.
“Taxpayer dollars would be better spent discouraging the use of cancer-causing products, including traditional large and premium cigars,” the Association said. “It is vital that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration be allowed to retain its strong, effective authority to regulate these products.”
According to PPP, Walker’s two potential contenders, Tom Barrett and Kathleen Falk, hold narrow leads over the unpopular governor. The poll shows Barrett with a 49-46 advantage, while Falk has a slight 48-47 edge over Walker.
The poll also found that former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) would have a more commanding lead over Walker than either Barrett or Falk. PPP found that Feingold would hold a 52-45 advantage over the governor. Feingold, however, has said he will not run in the recall election.
Poll: Wisconsin’s Walker to survive union recall drive – So much for that recall effort. According to a new Rasmussen poll of likely Wisconsin voters, Gov. Scott Walker should survive an effort to throw out his 2010 election, a campaign driven by pro-union activists angered that he limited collective bargaining rights for public employees in a budget-cutting move.
It’s a huge and positive switch for Scott’s fortunes. Opponents made headlines when they easily collected 1 million signatures on a recall petition. Walker this week said he would not challenge the signatures-including names like “Donald Duck”-because there isn’t enough time before the May recall election.
Rasmussen’s poll is the latest done on the election and finds that 54 percent of likely Wisconsin voters at least somewhat approve of the governor’s job, while 46 percent somewhat disapprove. He does good with independents, as 58 percent approve of his performance. The telephone poll of 500 likely voters conducted Monday shows a pro-Walker move, coming days after a Public Policy Polling survey conducted February 22-26 that found the state divided 49 percent-49 percent on the recall.
GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum hopes Michigan Democrats can help him earn a victory in Tuesday’s primary. That’s right. The former Pennsylvania senator’s campaign paid for a robocall asking Democrats to vote for him in Tuesday’s primary. Recent polls show chief rival and Michigan native Mitt Romney and Santorum virtually even heading into the primary. “We know that if we can get a Reagan Democrat in the primary, we can get them in the fall,” said Hogan Gidley, communications director for Santorum. He confirmed the campaign paid for the call. Political observers say the move is just another sign of how close the GOP race is — and a “logical ploy.” As Santorum has done during numerous Michigan visits the past two weeks, the call attacked Romney’s stance on the auto bailouts, saying the former Massachusetts governor’s opposition “was a slap in the face” to Michigan workers, according to audio obtained by online political news outlet Talking Points Memo. Santorum also opposed the auto bailout, but said his consistent stance against all bailouts, including the Wall Street bailout, sets him above Romney.
Will California’s Central Valley Bloom Again? – Is sanity finally coming to California’s Central Valley? America’s breadbasket has long been victim of capricious water cutoffs to “save” the environment. A bill in Congress puts an end to this man-made drought. It should pass.
Rep. Devin Nunes of Visalia, Calif., has come forward with a legislative remedy for the policies that have turned fertile fields into hollowed-out dust bowls in the name of “being green.”
Nunes’ Sacramento-San Joaquin Water Reliability Act goes to a vote in the House Wednesday and if it passes, it will guarantee that water the farmers paid for finally gets to the parched Central Valley. It will put an end to the sorry stream of shriveled vineyards, blackened almond groves and unemployed farm workers standing in alms lines for bagged carrots from China.
The insanity of the current policies against some of America’s most productive farmers in one of the world’s richest farm belts is largely the work leftist politicians from the wealthy enclaves of the San Francisco Bay Area. This group has exerted its political muscle on the less politically powerful region that produces more than half the fruits and vegetables consumed in the U.S. — with $26 billion in annual sales.
The company told the State Department in a letter Monday that it will begin construction of a section of the pipeline that runs from Cushing, Okla., to refineries on the Gulf Coast. The stand-alone portion of the project, which TransCanada dubbed the Gulf Coast Project, will cost $2.3 billion and will be completed in mid-to-late 2013, according to the company. The project must still receive other regulatory approvals.
Separately, TransCanada said it would reapply “in the near future” for a permit that would allow the Keystone XL pipeline to cross from Alberta, Canada, into the United States.
The seizures were cited as a reason for seeking another month’s delay in a preliminary hearing in the case. A hearing that had been scheduled for Tuesday in federal court has now been set for March 16.
“The investigation has continued, and since the last continuance in this case, the government has seized a significant number of computers which need to be processed,” said a court filing by Assistant U.S. Atty. John K. Vincent. The filing does not identify whose computers were confiscated. “The government needs additional time to review, analyze, and synthesize materials that it has obtained during the course of this investigation,” the filing said.
Maloofs pledge to contribute $75 million upfront for new downtown arena – The city of Sacramento and the Kings announced a tentative deal today to build a new arena in the downtown railyard. More than half the money would come from leasing the city’s parking to a private operator, but the team’s owners say they’ve also agreed to pay $75 million upfront.
George Maloof, the family member who pushed the hardest to move to Anaheim last year, said he believes the deal with Sacramento will allow the team to sustain itself financially for years in Sacramento, a small-market city. “We’re going to have a new building, we’ll be able to attract players. It will be much easier.”
In high desert district, a mirror image of Ventura County situation? – If Democrats in Ventura County think Supervisor Linda Parks might create headaches for them by running as a “no party preference” candidate in the 26th Congressional District, perhaps they can get together with Republicans in the San Bernardino County-based 8th Congressional District to commisserate.
Former Assemblyman Anthony Adams, a moderate Republican who was assailed by conservatives because of his vote for a 2009 compromise that produced a state budget balanced with both spending cuts and temporary tax increases that have since expired, announced today he will be running as a “no party preference” candidate in the heavily Republican 8th District. The potential problem for the GOP is that there are five announced Republican candidates already, and only one Democrat. Like Ventura County’s 26th District, the 8th is an open seat with no incumbent.
Jerry Brown presses Obama on Medi-Cal, meets with labor – Gov. Jerry Brown continued to press President Barack Obama today for authorization to enact further cuts to Medi-Cal to help balance California’s budget, even as the administration showed no sign of relenting and complained about the severity of state budget cuts in other areas.
Obama told governors in a meeting this morning that too many states are cutting education programs too deeply, citing teacher layoffs and rising college tuition.
“We’ve all faced some stark choices over the past several years,” Obama said. “But that is no excuse to lose sight of what matters most. And the fact is that too many states are making cuts to education that I believe are simply too big.”
The big majority opted for a lower tax bill when asked to choose specific rates; precisely 75 percent said the right level for top earners was 30 percent or below.
The current rate for top earners is 35 percent. Only 4 percent thought it was appropriate to take 40 percent, which is approximately the level that President Obama is seeking from January 2013 onward.
Buffett: Banks Victimized by Evicted Homeowners – Warren Buffett, who controls the biggest shareholding of the No. 1 U.S. mortgage lender, said banks were victimized by some homeowners who refinanced their loans before getting evicted.
“Large numbers of people who have ‘lost’ their house through foreclosure have actually realized a profit because they carried out refinancings earlier that gave them cash in excess of their cost,” Buffett, chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A), said Feb. 25 in his annual letter. “In these cases, the evicted homeowner was the winner, and the victim was the lender.”
Diane Sawyer, Anderson Cooper and Brian Williams are America’s Favorite News Personalities – Looking at a list of 26 current affairs personalities, when asked which three are their favorites, almost one-quarter say ABC News’ Diane Sawyer (23%), while one in five each say CNN’s Anderson Cooper (19%) and NBC’s Brian Williams (19%). Rounding out the top five favorite current affairs personalities is Bill O’Reilly (15%) and Barbara Walters (15%). A little further down the list are George Stephanopoulos (14%), Matt Lauer (13%), Katie Couric (13%), Rush Limbaugh (9%) and Sean Hannity (9%).
These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,016 adults surveyed online between January 16 and 23, 2012 by Harris Interactive.
Looking at the flip side, which three of the 26 news personalities are America’s least favorite, almost half say Rush Limbaugh (46%). Three in ten say Bill O’Reilly (31%) and almost one-quarter say their least favorite is Nancy Grace (23%). Rounding out the top ten least favorite news personalities are Sean Hannity (14%), Katie Couric (10%), Piers Morgan (10%), Barbara Walters (10%), Chris Matthews (10%), Rachel Maddow (7%) and Wolf Blitzer (7%).