These are my links for January 22nd through January 23rd:
Clinton set for long-awaited Libya testimony, as senator urges ‘top-to-bottom review’ – More than four months after the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in eastern Libya, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will deliver long-awaited testimony on the historic security failure.The secretary, after missing prior sessions before Congress due to illness, is set to take lawmakers’ questions Wednesday before a House and Senate committee. As Clinton prepares to leave the department after a busy four years, the hearing is a chance to address what is arguably the biggest controversy of her tenure.
Rothenberg: The 2016 Presidential Race Begins Today – After recent work on congressional deals, Biden looks like a more serious contender in 2016, if he chooses to run.For many, Clinton, who started as the solid favorite for the Democratic nomination only to have Obama snatch it from her, is the prohibitive favorite for her party’s nomination if she wants it. At this point, we just don’t know if she will want it. Maybe the former first lady doesn’t even know yet.
Biden, who will turn 71 toward the end of this year, was mocked often during Obama’s first term, but the former Delaware senator’s role in negotiating a deal to avert the fiscal cliff and his lead role in trying to come up with gun legislation that could be both effective and enacted suddenly makes him look like a more serious contender in 2016, if he chooses to run.
After Clinton and Biden, the list becomes more speculative. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley are seen as ambitious and interested. Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer probably should be on the list as well.
Health Insurance Brokers Prepare Clients For Obamacare Sticker Shock – A California insurance broker, who sells health plans to individuals and small businesses, told me that she’s prepping her clients for a sticker shock. Her local carriers are hinting to her that premiums may triple this fall, when the plans unveil how they’ll billet the full brunt of Obamacare’s new regulations and mandates.California is hardly alone. Around the country, insurers are fixing to raise rates by double digits. They’re privately briefing politicians in Washington on what’s in store. Those briefings are leaving a lot of folks up and down Pennsylvania Avenue jumpy.
What’s gives? President Obama, after all, said he’d prevent these sorts of prices. His new health law gave state regulators the power to block premium increases. It even created a federal agency to oversee insurance rates. But these bureaucrats are spectators to the price hikes. They’re mere wallflowers. Even in the bluest of states.
Their silence is the best evidence of who is culpable for the increases. It’s the policymakers. It’s Obamacare. The President is accepting the premium hikes as an allowable consequence of his healthcare policies.
Behind the Curtain: Joe Biden ‘intoxicated’ by 2016 run – Joe Biden summoned more than 200 Democratic insiders to the vice presidential residence Sunday night to chat about the 2012 triumph — but many walked away convinced his rising 2016 ambitions were the real intent of the long, intimate night.“I took a look at who was there,” said longtime New Hampshire state Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, “and said to myself, ‘There’s no question he’s thinking about the future.’ ”
He’s right. Biden, according to a number of advisers and Democrats who have spoken to him in recent months, wants to run, or at least be well positioned to run, if and when he decides to pull the trigger.
Biden has expressed a clear sense of urgency, convinced the Democratic field will be defined quickly — and that it might very well come down to a private chat with Hillary Clinton about who should finish what Barack Obama started.
Clinton to face Congress on Libya assault – Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton faces tough questions in her long-awaited congressional testimony concerning the assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.Clinton is the sole witness Wednesday at back-to-back hearings before the Senate and House foreign policy panels on the September raid, an independent panel’s review that harshly criticized the State Department and the steps the Obama administration is taking to beef up security at U.S. facilities worldwide.
Clinton had been scheduled to testify before Congress last month, but an illness, a concussion and a blood clot near her brain forced her to postpone her appearance.
Red-State Democrats’ Re-Election Playbook – President Obama won’t have to face voters again, but a handful of Democratic senators from conservative states will, and the president’s agenda, newly stamped with a liberal imprimatur at the inauguration, could prove tricky for them to navigate.How they go about doing that will require distancing themselves from the national Democratic Party and keeping their political antennae attuned to possible stumbling blocks in the Senate–what Democratic strategist Jim Manley calls a “yin and a yang equation.”
“The yin is differentiation; the yang is also trying to avoid the minefield that the Republicans are going to lay for you on the floor of the Senate,” he said.
The Mickelson Vote – Lefty offends the lefties – California golfer Phil “Lefty” Mickelson says he will no longer publicly criticize the government for taking most of his paycheck. That’s a shame. But even if it’s now socially unacceptable for high achievers to suggest they should keep the fruits of their labor, that doesn’t mean they will keep supplying that labor.After a brilliant round Sunday at a tournament in La Quinta, California, Mr. Mickelson hinted that new tax burdens might drive him out of the state, out of professional golf, and perhaps even out of the country. “There are going to be some drastic changes for me because I happen to be in that zone that has been targeted both federally and by the state, and it doesn’t work for me right now,” he said. “So I’m going to have to make some changes.”
Hillary Clinton 2008 campaign now debt-free – More than four years after Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic nomination for president, Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign is finally debt-free, new reports filed by the campaign show.Clinton’s campaign committee paid off about $25 million in debt and now has a surplus of $204,832. The campaign retired its debt just as Clinton is preparing to step down from her job as secretary of state. Clinton supporters are pushing her to run for the presidency again in 2016.
Tiger Woods Says High Tax Rates Made Him Leave California – During a press conference Tuesday, golf legend Tiger Woods said he moved to Florida in 1996 because of California’s high tax rates. The comments came after fellow golfer Phil Mickelson hinted Sunday that he might leave the Golden State — or perhaps even move out of the U.S. completely — because of income tax increases.“I moved out of here back in ’96 for that reason,” Woods told reporters at the Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, Calif.
Ryan: Obama ‘Shadowboxing a Straw Man’ – Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan knocked President Barack Obama for “shadowbox[ing] a straw man” in his inaugural address. Speaking Tuesday morning on the Laura Ingraham Radio Show to guest host Raymond Arroyo, Ryan responded to Obama’s statement that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security “do not make us a nation of takers, they free us to take the risks that make this country great.”Ryan called Obama’s insinuation that he and other reform-minded Republicans consider recipients of these benefits “takers” a “switcheroo.”
“It’s kind of a convenient twist of terms to try and shadowbox a straw man to try to win an argument by default,” Ryan said.
“No one is suggesting that what we call our ‘earned entitlements’, entitlements you pay for, you know, like payroll taxes for Medicare and Social Security, are putting you in a ‘taker’ category,” Ryan continued. “The concern that people like me have been raising is we do not want to encourage a dependency culture. This is why we called for welfare reform. This is welfare reform in 1996 was. This was what the new rounds for welfare reform we’re calling for do, which is to increase social mobility, economic opportunity, self-responsibility, those sort of things.”
“I understand the president will continue to use straw man arguments, affix views to your political adversaries they do not have in order to try and win an argument by default,” Ryan added.
Nebraska governor Dave Heineman OKs Keystone XL route through state – Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman has approved a revised route for the Keystone XL pipeline, one that supporters say will avoid the most ecologically sensitive regions of his state.The action is part of a chain of events that will lead to an eventual decision by President Barack Obama, which has emerged as a crucial test of the president’s pledges to tackle climate change versus his embrace of “all of the above” energy. Heineman sent a letter Tuesday to Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noting his approval of the new route.
President Obama dodges ‘hard choices’ on entitlements – President Barack Obama insisted four years ago that the nation must make “hard decisions” to preserve entitlement programs.But on Monday, the “hard choices” he spoke of on health care and the deficit came with a major caveat: He’s not willing to give up much.
“The commitments we make to each other — through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security — these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us,” Obama told the cheering crowd as he launched his second term. “They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.
His inaugural address promised an ambitious progressive agenda — and laid bare Obama’s deeply conflicted relationship with entitlement reform.
He’s done just enough to earn credit for trying harder than any other Democratic president to tackle the issue, but he has yet to throw the full weight of his office or his formidable campaign operation behind it. His best chance will come early in his second term as lawmakers confront a series of budget battles, but Obama appears more ready to spend his political capital on guns, immigration and climate change.
The president has never precisely defined what hard choices he would be willing to make on Medicare and Social Security. It’s not even clear what he would do if he had the power to remake the programs on his own, without worrying about opposition from Republicans or Democrats.
And though Obama has talked about shared sacrifice from both parties, he has not gotten to the point in deficit negotiations at which he’s had to pressure rank-and-file Democratic lawmakers to cross their red line on the sacred issues, as House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) did with his own party in raising taxes.
Unless Obama seizes the opportunity in the next few months, entitlement reform will hang over his second term, lurking like a legacy-killer if he hands off the task to the next president, deficit hawks warn.
President Barack Obama speaks at the southern site of the Keystone XL pipeline, on March 22, in Cushing, Oklahoma. Obama was pressing federal agencies to expedite the section of the Keystone XL pipeline between Oklahoma and the Gulf Coast.
These are my links for April 19th through April 20th:
Obama faces defeat on Keystone pipeline – While much of the political world obsesses over Twitter fights and Seamus the dog, Barack Obama has set himself up for a high-profile defeat on one of the most important issues of the campaign.
The president has put his feet in cement in opposition to the Keystone oil pipeline. But on Capitol Hill, more and more Democrats are joining Republicans to force approval of the pipeline, whether Obama wants it or not.
The latest action happened Wednesday, when the House passed a measure to move the pipeline forward. Before the vote, Obama issued a veto threat. The House approved the pipeline anyway — by a veto-proof majority, 293 to 127. Sixty-nine Democrats abandoned the president to vote with Republicans. That’s a lot of defections.
When the House voted on the pipeline in July of last year, 47 Democrats broke with the president. Now that it’s an election year and the number is up to 69, look for Republicans to hold more pipeline votes before November. GOP leaders expect even more Democrats to join them.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney rolled out a new accessory at a speech in Ohio today, delivering his remarks in front of a black banner that said “Obama Isn’t Working,” which is also the name of a website his campaign set up several months ago (in case you didn’t get the message from the banner, it was also on the front of Romney’s podium).
The slogan is a multiple entendre, but one of those entendres, intentionally or not, is evocative of a nasty racial stereotype about black men.
Romney’s Father Came from “Polygamy Commune” – Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) told the Daily Beast that Mittt Romney would have a “tall order to position Hispanics to vote for him” even though his father was born in Mexico.
Schweitzer admitted that it is “kinda ironic given that his family came from a polygamy commune in Mexico, but then he’d have to talk about his family coming from a polygamy commune in Mexico, given the gender discrepancy.”
Schweitzer noted that women are “not great fans of polygamy, 86 percent were not great fans of polygamy. I am not alleging by any stretch that Romney is a polygamist and approves of [the] polygamy lifestyle, but his father was born into [a] polygamy commune in Mexico.”
Mickey Kaus: No Romney Immigration Pivot Needed – Thank You! – No Pivot Needed: Mitt Romney has taken a harder line on illegal immigration than expected, which has led many commentators to declare that the primaries have hurt his chances by drawing him too far in that direction (costing him support among Latino voters, especially). Yet today’s Quinnipiac poll finds Romney favored over Obama on the issue of … immigration (by a margin of 43% to 39%, about the same lead that Romney has on “the economy”). He’s ahead by fifteen points on the immigration issue among independents. … So why is a “pivot” on immigration needed, again? … What good is Hispandering if it wins Romney New Mexico but costs him Ohio? …
The 2012–13 California Budget: Unwinding Redevelopment – On February 1, 2012, all redevelopment agencies in California were dissolved and the process for unwinding their financial affairs began. Given the scope of these agencies’ funds, assets, and financial obligations, the unwinding process will take time. Prior to their dissolution, redevelopment agencies (RDAs) received over $5 billion in property tax revenues annually and had tens of billions of dollars of outstanding bonds, contracts, and loans.
This report reviews the history of RDAs, the events that led to their dissolution, and the process communities are using to resolve their financial obligations. Over time, as these obligations are paid off, schools and other local agencies will receive the property tax revenues formerly distributed to RDAs.
The report discusses these major findings:
Although ending redevelopment was not the Legislature’s objective, the state had few practical alternatives.
Ending redevelopment changes the distribution of property tax revenues among local agencies, but not the amount of tax revenues raised.
Decisions about redevelopment replacement programs merit careful review.
The decentralized process for unwinding redevelopment promotes a needed local debate over the use of the property tax.
Key state and local choices will drive the state fiscal effect.
The report recommends the Legislature amend the redevelopment dissolution legislation to address timing issues, clarify the treatment of pass–through payments, and address key concerns of redevelopment bond investors.
California Recovery: No, It Is Not East vs. West – There are two reasonable measures of recovery, jobs and real estate values. You can forget the real estate values measure. Values throughout California are down from pre-recession highs. They are down a lot. Only San Francisco and Marin counties, with median home prices down 27.7 percent and 32.3 percent, respectively, have seen net median home price declines of less than 40 percent. Monterey and Madera counties top the state in median home price declines, in excess of 67 percent.
So let’s use jobs. An area has recovered if it has as many jobs today as it had at the beginning of the recession, December 2008.
We monitor 37 California MSAs. Combined they represent about 96 percent of California’s population. By jobs, only one of California’s larger MSAs has recovered, and that county does not fit the story. Not only is Kings County not on the ocean, it doesn’t even border or have a naturally occurring year-round piece of water. Kings County, with 37,700 jobs, has about 900 more jobs than it had at the beginning of the recession. Still, Kings County’s unemployment rate is 17 percent. Some recovery!
For Brown the last minute decision to go with a compromise initiative prohibited a choice on the use of direct mail. However, foolishly for most ballot measure proponents, fear or desperation is now the moving factor in virtually all use of large-scale ballot qualification petition mailings.
Even when time permits, ballot measure proponents rarely even test mailed petitions. Why? Because it is just so bloody easy to place one call to any of several very capable companies that handle every aspect of paid signature qualification. For the consultants, no muss, no fuss, virtually no work and probably the same fees will be realized. And it is an easy sell to the measure’s proponents, as the initial cost of paid signature gathering is often lower. Paid signatures are the conventional, accepted way to go…no need to think or act outside the box.
But the hidden price paid is very dear indeed!
My former partners Arnold Forde and Stu Mollrich and I started using mailed petitions as a first option, and were the first to entirely qualify ballot measures by mail. The reason we did so was simply because it so much better served our client’s interests.
In the letter, dated Dec. 8, 2011 — which local news outlet WRAL first published with redactions of alleged victim Adriadn Ortega’s name — Ortega alleges that Parmley “frequently gave me unwanted shoulder rubs despite my verbal objections” and that Parmley “often solicited my opinion on his clothes.”
“He would point both hands to his crotch area and ask me how his crotch looked in those pants that day,” Ortega wrote, adding that Parmley “would frequently pretend to punch my crotch and make a popping noise with his mouth.”
“On July 28, 2011, the executive director discussed, in detail, his sexual activities from the past when he was living in South Carolina,” Ortega then said. “In addition, he discussed in detail his sexual activities from when he moved to North Carolina, where he solicited sex from gay websites such as [REDACTED].”
The next day — on July 29, 2011 — Ortega alleged that Parmley “showed me a picture of a penis.”
Cantor: GOP will expand majority – House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Thursday he is confident that Republicans will not just hold but will expand their majority in the lower chamber in November.
“I’m very bullish on the House,” Cantor said at an event in downtown Washington. “I am very confident that we will strengthen our majority.”
The second-ranking House Republican said he believes the GOP will be on offense in 30 to 40 districts with the goal of adding to its 242 House seats. His comments stand in contrast to those of many political analysts, who project that Democrats will gain seats in November but fall short of wresting back control of the House.
“I don’t want to be the vice president,” the Florida Republican said during an interview with Major Garrett of the National Journal.
“So, if Mitt Romney asks, you will you say no?” Garrett asked.
“Yes. But you know he’s not going to ask. That doesn’t work. He’s watching this interview right now,” Rubio, 40, responded.
Rubio even went as far as suggesting another U.S. Senator for Romney to consider in his VP vetting – Ohio Senator Rob Portman.
“The bigger point is we’ve got a lot of really talented people out there that Mitt Romney can get to pick from. And I think a lot, Senator Rob Portman would be a phenomenal choice for vice president, that’s where I would encourage him to look because I’m enjoying my service in the senate.”
Rubio’s name is often floated in the top tier list of potential vice presidential candidates, but the Florida senator has not been shy about his disinterest in the position. Rubio instead says he wants to focus on advancing policy in the senate, joking that if he were running as vice president, he’d have to answer a lot of questions about dogs, a topic which has consumed both parties in the past week.
Rubio: Arizona Immigration Law is Not Model for Nation – Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said Thursday that he did not view Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigration as a “model,’’ distancing himself from presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who has embraced the legislation.
The Cuban-American senator, who spoke at The University of Phoenix/National Journal’s Next America’ forum in Washington, D.C., is viewed as a top name on Romney’s vice presidential shortlist.
Rubio said he understood why frustration with illegal immigration led Arizona to pass a law allowing local police to demand proof of citizenship. He also disagreed with the Obama administration’s contention that the law is unconstitutional. But he added, “I do not believe (laws like the one in Arizona) should be a model for the country.’’
As a Senate candidate in 2010, Rubio vacillated on the Arizona law. He initially expressed some concerns but later said he would have voted for it.
Rubio’s reservations about the law come at a time when polls show the Republican Party facing a yawning deficit of support among Hispanic voters. Both national parties have launched national campaigns to reach out to the Hispanic community, the fastest growing part of the electorate and the key to victory in a number of swing states.
Democrats have been zealously attacking Republican opposition to the DREAM Act, potentially popular legislation that would grant citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants who go to college or enroll in the military. In recent weeks, Rubio has started countering the criticism by proposing an alternative that would allow these children to obtain legal status but not citizenship.
These are my links for March 8th through March 9th:
Limbaugh attack boomerangs on the White House – Perhaps the left carried on a little too long and a little too loudly regarding Rush Limbaugh’s nasty language about Sandra Fluke. Conservative activist Penny Nance, executive director of Concerned Women for America, has sent a letter to the White House chief of staff demanding President Obama’s super PAC live up to the same standard Democrats have articulated for Republicans and Rush Limbaugh.
Apple at center of e-book price-fixing allegations – The Justice Department has threatened to sue Apple and major publishers in a high-profile case that could reshape the digital-books market, driving down prices but also potentially shifting market power from publishers to e-commerce giant Amazon.
The government warned Apple and five major book companies that it intends to file a lawsuit accusing them of colluding to boost the prices of e-books, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing unnamed sources. Several of the publishers are already in talks to settle the matter, although those discussions appear to be at an early and uncertain stage, the Journal reported.
The publishers in question include Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group, Macmillan and HarperCollins Publishers.
Now Limbaugh is returning the favor – and the split between the Sacramento retailer and the controversial radio host appears to be permanent.
Limbaugh on Thursday rejected Sleep Train’s offer to resume advertising on his national radio show and rehire Limbaugh as a paid spokesman. Limbaugh’s spokesman said the conservative commentator would no longer carry Sleep Train’s ads “in the future.”
Sleep Train stopped advertising on the show last Friday, becoming one of the first sponsors to drop Limbaugh. The company’s decision came two days after Limbaugh called a Georgetown University law student a “slut” and a “prostitute” over her stance on health insurance coverage for contraception.
Limbaugh apologized to the student over the weekend.
Sleep Train’s decision was especially noteworthy because Limbaugh and Sleep Train chief executive Dale Carlsen have known each other since the 1980s, when Sleep Train was a small company and Limbaugh was an on-air personality at Sacramento’s KFBK (1530 AM).
Kucinich May Still Run from Washington – Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who just lost his re-election bid in a Democratic primary on Tuesday, did not close the door to running for Congress in a new district — in a new state, CBS News reports.
He said “there’s new possibilities that are being born at this moment.”
Should he decide to run again, Washingtion state’s “most appealing choices for a Kucinich run could be the first and sixth congressional districts which lack incumbents because of the retirements of Democratic Reps. Jay Inslee and Norm Dicks.”
Pro-Obama PAC Won’t Give Back Maher’s Money – Current and former White House aides on Thursday rejected demands by a conservative group that a Super PAC supporting President Obama refund a $1 million check from comedian and talk show host Bill Maher because of coarse comments he’s made about Sarah Palin and other Republican women.
While Obama earlier this week denounced similar comments that radio talk show host made about a college student, Sandra Fluke, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters the president is not going to get involved in the Maher battle.
Romney Really Might Not Have the Delegates by June – The Republican primary has revealed distinct geographic tendencies. Mitt Romney is dominant in New England and in the West. Newt Gingrich has run well in the Deep South, while Rick Santorum has done well in caucus states, the Great Plains, and the peripheral South (it remains to be seen whether his support has bled into Gingrich’s strength in the Deep South). That leaves the Midwest as a battleground between Romney and Santorum.
While Romney had a good night on Super Tuesday, the truth is that he did nothing to alter the basic regional nature of his support. He won handily in New England and the West, essentially tied in the Midwest, and ran poorly in the South.
For the first time, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is putting a timeframe on his decision whether to enter the race.
He’s running for re-election as mayor but will he also jump into a possible recall race for governor?
He’s not answering that question yet, but now, for the first time, the mayor is indicating when he might make up his mind.
With an election for mayor less than four weeks away, Barrett continued to deflect any questions about a possible run for governor.
“I am certainly considering running for governor, but I haven’t made a decision quite honestly,” Barrett said.
Barrett spoke at a forum sponsored by Wispolitics.com, and afterward, 12 News reporter Kent Wainscott asked him whether Milwaukee voters deserved to know whether he plans to enter a likely governor’s recall race.
“I don’t know what the future holds, and that’s why I didn’t deny that this is something that I’m thinking about, because I am thinking about it, and I think the voters know that,” Barrett said.
GOP strategist: Appeal to Latino voters is party’s ‘great challenge’ – Republican Party strategist Whit Ayres says a new Fox News poll showing a strong preference for Democrats among Latino voters underscores what he called “the great challenge of the Republican Party going forward” – doing better with non-white voters, especially Latinos and Asians.
David Axelrod, President Obama’s senior campaign strategist, is scheduled to appear on Bill Maher’s late-night talk show within the next few weeks, according to Kelley Carville, an HBO spokesman.
As the controversy over Rush Limbaugh’s comments about Sandra Fluke continued, a former Obama White House official today joined Republicans in pointing out that Maher, who recently donated $1 million to a pro-Obama super PAC, has a history of his misogynistic slurs.
Last year, he was rebuked by the National Organization for Women for calling Sarah Palin a “dumb tw*t.”
“palin is right to point out that bill maher has said some pretty disgusting things about women, comedian or not. they are rush like,” Austan Goolsbee, the former chairman of President Obama’s Council on Economic Advisors, and currently a professor at the University of Chicago, tweeted.
After Obama spoke with Fluke, the Georgetown University Law Student called a “slut” and “prostitute” by Limbaugh, Palin challenged Priorities USA to return Maher’s donation.
“Pres. Obama says he called Sandra Fluke because of his daughters. For the sake of everyone’s daughter, why doesn’t his super PAC return the $1 million he got from a rabid misogynist?,” Palin wrote Tuesday on her Facebook page.
The 56-42 vote staves off an election-year rebuke of Obama, but will give political ammunition to backers of TransCanada Corp.’s plan to build a pipeline connecting Alberta’s massive tar sands projects to Gulf Coast refineries.
Despite Obama’s efforts, 11 Democrats brushed off Obama on the vote and sided with Republicans.
The 11 Democratic defections were Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Bob Casey (Pa.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Jim Webb (Va.).
No Republicans voted against the measure, and 60 votes were needed to move forward.
Bill Bennett: A lesson in how to turn the tables – Bill Bennett had this to say on CNN about the Rush Limbaugh hypocrisy fest: “My question is whether the president will give back the million dollars Bill Maher gave him. I don’t know how he’s going to explain that to Sasha and Malia, when that guy uses language that would make Rush blush.”
The comment is, in a word, perfect. The gentle tone of irony contrasts with the left’s hyperventilating. The matter-of-fact assertion highlights how the left’s “outrage” is reserved for political opponents’ entertainers. And his gentle rebuke to the president — who chose to drag his daughters into a phony political gambit — is the frosting on the well- baked cake.
Notice, in fact, how it is now the representative of the left who wants to move on? The Obama spinners have got as much mileage out of Limbaugh as they can, and if the conversation is now going to turn to their side, well then, for heaven’s sake, it’s time to turn the page! Or, as Dave Weigel put it in reference to David Axelrod’s inanity (“If Romney couldn’t stand up to “the most strident voices in your party, how can he stand up to Ahmadinejad?”): “Axelrod has no case. He’s a nomad flogging a camel to get one last mile out of it after it’s already crossed half the Gobi with no water.”
Carbonite shoots its business model in the foot – The decline in the price of Carbonite stock since it announced it was dropping its longstanding advertising on the Rush Limbaugh show is not the real story of the damage done to Carbonite.
The price of Carbonite stock has been dropping since October for reasons unrelated to this controversy, although it did fall off a small cliff this week.
The real problem for Carbonite and its shareholders is that in leaving behind 15 million Rush listeners, Carbonite has shot its business model in the foot.
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%).
These are my links for November 10th through November 14th:
CHELSEA CLINTON TO SHARE “MAKING A DIFFERENCE” STORIES FOR “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS” AND “ROCK CENTER WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS”– Chelsea Clinton is teaming up with “Rock Center with Brian Williams” and “NBC Nightly News” as a Special Correspondent, the network announced today. Clinton’s role with the shows and the network will be to highlight stories within the “Making a Difference” franchise.”Making a Difference” segments have a history of profiling organizations and individuals who represent the best of what works in the United States and around the world, frequently emphasizing stories about everyday people doing extraordinary things. Clinton’s dedication to public service, solution-based advocacy and focus on empowering people across the country and around the globe resonates with the purpose and content of “Making a Difference.” Her position with NBC News will still allow Clinton to continue her work with the Clinton Foundation and her studies in parallel.
“Chelsea is a remarkable woman who will be a great addition to NBC News. Given her vast experiences, it’s as though Chelsea has been preparing for this opportunity her entire life,” said Steve Capus, President of NBC News. “We are proud she will be bringing her considerable, unique talents and dedication to NBC News.”
“Our Making a Difference segments have become a signature of the broadcast. They adhere to a simple goal of highlighting the good works being done across the country and around the world,” said Brian Williams, Anchor and Managing Editor of Nightly News and Rock Center. “Chelsea Clinton has led a remarkable life. She possesses an uncommon understanding of humanity — on city streets, across this country and around the globe. We are so excited she’s joining us to tell the stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”
Friday question answered – The Pros and Cons of Newt Gingrich– Yet there are still conservatives entranced with his patter and admiring of his intellect. PBS727 declares, “You bet he can. Strongest candidate out there. To hell with with his personal baggage. Just look at [Bill] Clinton, [John F.] Kennedy.” Carldahlmann argues: “Gingrich knows history, and he knows Congress. He’s smart and quick — he would kill Obama in any debate. In spite of his personal baggage, I think he’d make a dynamite President, and would create a very effective troika with Boehner and McConnell — this would be the Democrats’ worst nightmare, which is why I like it.”I agree that Gingrich will benefit for some time from Herman Cain’s and Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s woes. It is ironic that the feisty base, which wants to fight, fight, fight against the Democrats, would consider the last GOP speaker of the House to get badly rolled by the White House. But in short order not only his personal baggage but his embrace of decidedly unconservative ideas and ethical problems will become a turnoff for many evangelicals, the group the not-Romney candidate must capture. For all of his flash and humor, Gingrich remains a loose cannon and an inconsistent conservative — not exactly what the not-Romney crowd is looking for.
Democrats obsessed with Romney?– Borrowing the title from a popular new wave song from the 1980s, Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign is out Monday with an email that highlights the numerous recent attacks on the Republican presidential candidate by national Democrats.In an email with the heading “You’re My Obsession,” the Romney campaign states that “President Obama’s political machine has developed an obsession with attacking Governor Romney.”
The former Massachusetts governor, who’s making his second bid for the White House, has been at or near the top of most national polls this year in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, and he’s also currently at or near the top in surveys in crucial early voting states.
For months, Romney’s been the target of Web videos and emails from the Obama re-election campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and Priorities USA, an independent group that is supporting the president’s re-election bid. But the efforts seem to have stepped up in recent weeks.
Many of the emails and Web videos highlight what the Democrats call Romney’s “flip-flop” on numerous issues.
Canada Will Sell Oil To China If US Keeps Delaying The Pipeline – The Obama administration put off the decision to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline until 2013.
But that won’t stop Canada from trying to find another buyer, namely China, according to AFP.
Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has already spoken with Chinese President Hu Jintao about possible oil exports this past Saturday.
Harper told reporters, “This does underscore the necessity of Canada making sure that we are able to access Asian markets for our energy products.”
With plans for the Keystone XL oil pipeline on the rocks, and China looking to diversify its energy supplier portfolio, this might be the perfect opportunity for Canada to get its foot in the door of the Chinese energy market.
Poll Watch: Voters split on harassment charges, favor lie detector test– Likely voters are split over whether to believe Herman Cain or the women who accused him of sexual harassment, but a plurality would like him to take a lie detector test to help decide the issue.According to The Hill Poll, likely voters are split, 39 percent to 40 percent respectively, on whether they believe Cain or his accusers. Another 21 percent aren’t sure whom to believe.
Forty-seven percent of likely voters would like him to follow through on his professed willingness to take a lie detector test, while 35 percent said he should not and 18 percent were not sure.
Back in September he told a TV station that the U.S. had “gotten a little soft’’ when it came to competing in international markets.
On Saturday, speaking at a business forum on the sidelines of an economic summit in Honolulu, he said the U.S. had been “lazy’’ when it came to enticing businesses to invest in America.
“But we’ve been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades,’’ the president said. “We’ve kind of taken for granted — well, people will want to come here and we aren’t out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new business into America.”
Soft and lazy. Sounds like America could use a few months on Parris Island.
Not that he’s lost hope. In the first year of his term, he gave a healthcare speech and proclaimed that “we can do great things.’’
This year, in his State of the Union speech, he was no less optimistic.
Americans, he said, are a people who “do big things.’’
“Lazy’’ is a strong word, though, and in a staid talk about trade and currency policy, it caused a bit of a stir.
Washington’s unwelcome delay in the Keystone XL pipeline project– EARLY LAST WEEK, as the Obama administration prepared to announce a delay in deciding whether to permit the construction of the Canada-U.S. Keystone XL oil pipeline, Joe Oliver, Canada’s natural resources minister, was in Asia to discuss cooperation with the energy-hungry and cash-flush Chinese on extracting his nation’s oil reserves. Given that China already has an $11 billion stake in Canadian oil production, Mr. Oliver should have little trouble getting the help.Despite the passion among environmentalists against Keystone XL, Mr. Oliver’s travels illustrate the critical point: Canada’s oil will come out of the ground, and someone somewhere will refine it and burn it.
Video: FINALLY: Warren Buffett Reveals What HIS Tax Plan Would Look Like – Warren Buffett is on CNBC this morning talking about the Buffett tax.
As he’s indicated before, what Obama calls the “Buffett Rule” (higher taxes on the rich, basically) differs from his real proposal for such a tax.
His idea is really simple.
He says his tax would require earners making over $1 million to pay 30% of their income in taxes and those making more than $10 million to pay 35%—something he admits most people are already doing.
The difference between the current progressive system, and his idea is that his scheme wouldn’t give any breaks to people who get much of their money from capital gains.
President Newt?– Newt Gingrich did very well for himself in the foreign policy debate Saturday, especially when he put down a smug Scott Pelley on the issue of whether killing Al-Awlaki comported with the “rule of law.” … Jennifer Rubin and I discuss what a Gingrich Presidency might be like in our most recent Ricochet podcast here (starting about 4:20 in). Rubin also has a detailed post on why Gingrich is not a “conservative dreamboat.” … A key point not addressed by issues papers is his firmness in negotiation, or lack thereof. During the welfare reform debate of 1995-6, my impression was that Gingrich always wants to be the hero who walks into the room and cuts the grand deal. As a result he is all-too-ready to make dramatic concessions, which is one reason Clinton cleaned his clock in the post-1994 budget negotiations. Fastest sellout in the West! …KEYWORDS: INFANTILE, EGOMANIAC
Some Democrats refuse to back President Obama– Sen. Joe Lieberman was treated like an outcast back in 2008 when he broke from the Senate Democratic Caucus and openly opposed Barack Obama’s bid for the White House.Asked last week if he’d back Obama in 2012, the Connecticut independent said, “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
This time around, there may be more Liebermans.
A number of moderate Democrats like Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar and liberals like Sen. Bernie Sanders are declining to give their unqualified support for the president, saying they’re either too focused on their own races or are calling on the White House to cater to their agendas before they will offer an endorsement. Some up for reelection in red states or in swing districts fear that even showing up on stage with Obama will give their opponents an image to seize upon — much as Democrats did in 2008 when they repeatedly flashed shots of Sen. John McCain hugging President George W. Bush.
So as the president faces the dual challenges of energizing his base while wooing moderates, some Democrats in Congress are keeping their distance, with the president’s approval rating hovering in the mid-40s — and even lower in states like West Virginia, where moderate Sen. Joe Manchin is up for reelection.
Obama Dings Republicans On Waterboarding, Says Jobs Bill May Have To Wait Until After Election – President Barack Obama took one of his first swings at his Republican opponents on Sunday, criticizing Rep. Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain for supporting the use of waterboarding.
In an afternoon press conference at the APEC summit in Hawaii, Obama was read comments from the two aspiring presidents, and set aside his vow not to comment on the Republican race until they have a nominee to categorically defend his administration’s stance on the issue:
“Let me just say this: They’re wrong. Waterboarding is torture,” he said. “It’s contrary to America’s traditions. It’s contrary to our ideals. That’s not who we are. That’s not how we operate. We don’t need it in order to prosecute the war on terrorism. And we did the right thing by ending that practice. ”
“If we want to lead around the world, part of our leadership is setting a good example. And anybody who has actually read about and understands the practice of waterboarding would say that that is torture. And that’s not something we do — period.”
But Obama refused to attack former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for criticizing his record dealing with Iran, saying only that it’s a complicated issue — and anyone who says otherwise “is either politicking or doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”
Anti-Newt Gingrich chatter begins– A conservative source forwards an anti-Newt Gingrich email making the rounds this weekend, drawing Republicans’ attention to the former House speaker’s history of off-message and ideologically erratic comments.The email is a reminder of the challenge Gingrich faces ahead of him, if he really has to go through the same level of vetting as other credible GOP presidential candidates — like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann did when they were on the upswing in the polls. But it’s also a sign that Gingrich’s rise is being taken seriously by his opponents inside the party. The email reads, in part:
Fellow Conservatives I urge all of to take a hard look at the real Newt Gingrich. Take 10 minutes of your time to read this email and pass it around as we can’t afford another faux president.
*The Newt Gingrich Files: Does he know where he stands?*
*MUST KNOW QUOTES*
• Gingrich: “There Are Parts Of The DREAM Act That Are Actually Quite Useful.” (“Newt And Callista Gingrich On Al Punto With Jorge Ramos,” Newt.org, 10/13/10)
• In A 2007 Interview With PBS, Gingrich Came Out In Favor Of A Cap And Trade System, Saying “It’s Something I Would Strongly Support.” (PBS’ “Frontline,” 4/24/07)
How Gingrich Can Win– Rich Galen explains how Newt Gingrich can win the GOP presidential nomination.”The two candidates who are stable in their numbers are Romney (with a ceiling of about 25 percent of GOP voters) and Ron Paul (who will stay between six and 10 percent). That leaves about 65 percent of Republican voters looking for a home. Cain will continue to drift downward (my words, not Newt’s); Santorum, Huntsman, and Bachman are, and will continue to be minor players.”
“So, Newt’s thinking goes, he doesn’t need to beat Romney — he needs to consolidate the non-Romney vote and he’s the only one who can do that.”
An example from recent history: “Sixty-two percent of Iowa voters wanted someone other than Barack Obama four years ago. The only reason he won was because Hillary and Edwards almost precisely split 60 percent of the votes.”
The American Spectator : Charlie Hebdo, Free Speech, and Islam – Unfortunately, the persistence of such sentiments only invites one to state principles that might seem obvious, but never grow unworthy of affirmation. There is no moral equivalence between those exercising their right to free speech and Islamists who wish to impose the standards of traditional Sharia (Islamic law) on society and are prepared to harm physically others and their property to achieve that end.
More generally, this affair — along with the attack on a Tunisian TV station for broadcasting the film Persepolis, and the death threats that forced the flight from Pakistan of the judge who convicted the assassin of Salman Taseer, the Punjab governor who opposed the blasphemy law — demonstrates that Islam as a whole still has a long way to go to come towards accepting basic standards of toleration of criticism.
In short, one hopes that the following principle — well summed up by a prominent Melkite Greek Catholic deacon — will come to be accepted as mainstream in Islam: ‘[O]ne’s response to someone else’s provocative action is entirely one’s own responsibility. If you do something that offends me, I am under no obligation to kill you, or to run to the United Nations to try to get laws passed that will silence you. I am free to ignore you, or laugh at you, or to respond with charity, or any number of reactions.’
Facing Eurocollapse – As the world financial crisis deepens, it is unlikely that it can be alleviated without carefully reviewing the infelicitous confluence of mistakes in Europe and the United States that has brought it to its present extreme state. The European Monetary Union, involving 17 countries, was based on a number of generally admirable premises, but also on a couple of false assumptions. All civilized people were grateful at the extension of European cooperation to this new level of intimacy, as ancient foes led by France and Germany reached an ever-closer community of national interest. For German chancellor Helmut Kohl, who did not trust Germany’s political instincts to cause his country to act responsibly when alone and not in the company of allies of less erratic recent history, an ever-closer union was an insurance policy of constructive peer-group thinking. He was sincere in espousing “a European Germany and not a German Europe.”
Romney and Gingrich Shine; Perry Doesn’t – No one touched Romney. He was unflappable and knowledgeable. He again showed the right political instinct to want to address the struggles of the middle class, although his tax plan doesn’t do it. His China-bashing will probably play well in the Midwest, although it’s foolhardy on the merits. He consistently got applause. I remember one of the early debates when Romney was flying above the other candidates and Pawlenty — I think — attacked him and he declined to reply, saying “that’s fine.” He said the same thing tonight when Santorum went after him. After all the churning in the race, Romney is in the same basically comfortable place he was in several months ago.
Teens, Kindness and Cruelty on Social Network Sites – As social media use has become pervasive in the lives of American teens, a new study finds that 69% of the teenagers who use social networking sites say their peers are mostly kind to one another on such sites. Still, 88% of these teens say they have witnessed people being mean and cruel to another person on the sites, and 15% report that they have been the target of mean or cruel behavior on social network sites.
GOP senators praise Boxer on highway bill– California Sen. Barbara Boxer won rare praise from Republicans on Wednesday for unanimously passing an overhaul of federal highway programs bill out of her committee.Boxer, a liberal Democrat who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, worked hand-in-hand with conservative Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe to consolidate 90 federal highway programs into 30, grant states more flexibility in spending highway money and expand a pilot program to leverage taxpayer money with private investment.
The two-year, $84 billion bill has no earmarks for pet projects and aims to offset all new spending with trims in other areas of the government. The 18-0 vote was a rare moment in the bitterly partisan climate on Capitol Hill and provides a template for infrastructure investment that has been sought by the Obama administration but rebuffed by Republicans.
The Senate last week defeated President Obama’s proposal for $50 billion in infrastructure spending.