As Michigan Republicans headed to the polls Tuesday morning, President Obama delivered an aggressive defense of the bailout of the auto industry and his presidency in general, harshly criticizing GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney – though he never mentioned him by name.
“I’ve got to admit, it’s been funny to watch some of these folks completely try to rewrite history now that you’re back on your feet,” the president said to a raucous crowd at the United Auto Workers Convention. “The same folks who said if we went forward with our plan to rescue Detroit, ‘you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.’”
There’s no mistake who Harry Reid’s political target is as Republican voters head to the polls today in Arizona and Michigan.
On Monday, the Senate majority leader held a conference call blasting GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney for touting endorsements from immigration “extremists” like Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. And on the Senate floor Tuesday, Reid attacked Romney’s opposition to President Barack Obama’s bailouts that many credit for saving the Detroit auto industry.
“I’m sorry to say that life support system that the Detroit auto industry was surviving on, Republicans wanted to pull the plug. One man who is now seeking the Republican nomination for president of the United States said, ‘We should kiss the automobile industry goodbye,’” Reid said, without naming Romney.
“He called the death of American auto manufacturers ‘virtually guaranteed,’ another direct quote. And so he argued we should just let Detroit go bankrupt,” he added. “But he wasn’t alone. Republicans in this chamber agreed, many of them agreed, Democrats weren’t willing to give up on American manufacturing” and manufacturing jobs.
Voters in Michigan head to the polls today, carrying the fate of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s presidential bid in their hands. Win Michigan and, as expected, Arizona, and Romney almost certainly reasserts himself as the clear frontrunner in the Republican race. Lose Michigan and the calls for Romney to reconsider his candidacy will begins. It’s that simple.
Turn-out in today’s presidential primary election looks to be about the same or less than it was four years ago, according to a sampling of clerks in key precincts the Free Press is using to analyze the vote.
“The absentee voter ballot requests are pretty much the same as last time,” said Farmington Hills City Clerk Pam Smith. “We’re right on par with that and we’re planning for that kind of turnout.”
Smith said there were no reported problems at precincts this morning and she expected to get updates later in the day on how many people voted in person.
Rockwall Texas Doctor Charged In Biggest U.S. Healthcare Fraud Ever – A North Texas doctor has been arrested and charged in what’s being described as the largest healthcare fraud case in U.S. history.Between January, 2006 and November of last year, Dr. Jacques Roy is accused of cheating Medicare and Medicaid, and ultimately taxpayers, nearly $380 million dollars.Top U.S. Justice department officials have flown to Dallas Tuesday to make the announcement along with the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, and the Special Agent in charge of the Dallas FBI, Robert Casey.
Santorum on top in second straight Ohio poll – For the second straight day, a new survey indicates Rick Santorum leading Mitt Romney in Ohio.With one week to go until the Buckeye State’s Republican presidential primary, Santorum has an 11-point lead over Romney, according to the latest Ohio Poll.
VA-Sen Poll: Allen leads Kaine in potential US Senate race – Republican George Allen has opened an eight-point lead (45%-37%) on Democrat Tim Kaine in a likely November matchup for the U.S. Senate seat from Virginia according to The Roanoke College Poll. Virginians are somewhat more positive about the situation in the country, but they are not enamored with any of the Republican Presidential candidates. In potential Presidential election scenarios, President Obama leads all Republican candidates except Mitt Romney, with whom he is statistically tied.The Roanoke College Poll interviewed 607 residents of Virginia between February 13 and February 26. The Poll has a margin of error of +4 percent. Another Roanoke College Poll of likely voters in the March 6 “Super Tuesday” Virginia Republican primary will be released later this week.
Santorum robocall makes appeal to Michigan’s Democrats for votes – 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.
Innovate or Legislate – Reihan Salam & Patrick Ruffini – National Review Online – In 2012, a number of institutions that long defined how Americans communicated are teetering near the brink of collapse. Major newspapers in cities across the country have stopped publishing. Strip-mall anchors from Circuit City to Blockbuster to Borders have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The U.S. Postal Service struggles under the weight of crushing pension obligations, as e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and Skype render it all but obsolete. In politics, traditional modes of wielding power are also being disrupted. One prominent example is the recent battle over the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, in which grassroots activists defeated once-powerful Hollywood lobbyists.What’s toppling these formerly invincible companies and institutions? In almost every case, the proximate cause is the Internet, and the disruption it has wrought on inefficient businesses in every corner of the economy. And so we are now engaged in a war over its future.
Newt Gingrich’s super PAC receives another ‘substantial’ contribution from Sheldon Adelson – An independent group supporting Newt Gingrich has received another “substantial” contribution from billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson and will launch TV ads in seven states this week, a source close to the group confirmed Monday.The source, who requested anonymity to speak freely, did not confirm the amount of the contribution but called it substantial and at least on par with two $5 million donations Adelson and his family have given previously. The group, known as Winning Our Future, will launch TV ads Tuesday in Georgia, Oklahoma, Ohio and Tennessee, with more to come Wednesday in Mississippi, Alabama and Kansas.The cash infusion comes at a critical moment for Gingrich, whose campaign has flagged as conservative rival Rick Santorum’s has flourished. While much of the political world has been trained on Santorum’s battle to beat former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in Michigan and Arizona, two states that hold their primaries Tuesday, Gingrich has focused on trying to revive his fortunes by winning a series of Southern states next week, on Super Tuesday and beyond.All four of the states where the group will begin advertising Tuesday vote on Super Tuesday; the others follow.
These are my links for February 13th through February 14th:
“Dogs Against Romney”? Democrats Say Unleash the Hound! – Tomorrow outside the Westminster dog show at Madison Square Garden at noon the group “Dogs Against Romney” will protest “to ensure pet lovers are aware that Mitt Romney is mean to dogs,” according to the group’s press release.
While it may seem silly to some, Democrats are have every intention of making sure – if Romney wins the GOP nomination – that every voting American knows about the story of Romney putting his family dog Seamus in a kennel on top of his roof and driving from Boston to Canada, with said canine Seamus making his displeasure known in a rather scatological way. “I have a yellow Lab named Winston,” Fox News’ Chris Wallace said to Romney. “I would no sooner put him in a kennel on the roof of my car than I would one of my children. Question: What were you thinking?” “This is a completely airtight kennel, mounted on the roof of our car,” Romney replied. “He climbed up there regularly, enjoyed himself. He was in a kennel at home a great deal of the time as well. We loved the dog. It was where he was comfortable.” “When Seamus crapped all over the car I’m fairly certain he wasn’t expressing pleasure,” one top Democrat told ABC News.
“Simply put,” Frisch wrote, “the progressive movement is in need of an enemy. George W. Bush is gone. We really don’t have John McCain to kick around any more. Filling the lack of leadership on the right, Fox News has emerged as the central enemy and antagonist of the Obama administration, our Congressional majorities and the progressive movement as a whole.”
“We must take Fox News head-on in a well funded, presidential-style campaign to discredit and embarrass the network, making it illegitimate in the eyes of news consumers.”
What Frisch proceeded to suggest, however, went well beyond what legitimate presidential campaigns attempt. “We should hire private investigators to look into the personal lives of Fox News anchors, hosts, reporters, prominent contributors, senior network and corporate staff,” he wrote.
After that, Frisch argued, should come the legal assault: “We should look into contracting with a major law firm to study any available legal actions that can be taken against Fox News, from a class action law suit to defamation claims for those wronged by the network. I imagine this would be difficult but the right law firm is bound to find some legal ground for us to take action against the network.”
Laura Richardson’s ethics woes mount – Democratic Rep. Laura Richardson instructed taxpayer-funded House aides to work on political redistricting last year, sources familiar with the situation told POLITICO.
Such activities could amount to a violation of prohibitions against lawmakers pressuring aides to do political work, as well as rules against using official resources, including staff, for campaign purposes.
The redistricting work, which has not previously been disclosed, allegedly occurred after it became clear Richardson was under investigation over another set of allegations that she forced House aides to perform political and personal tasks in violation of House rules. Richardson did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Sources told POLITICO that Richardson’s congressional aides collected information about communities outside her district, organized a workshop to train constituents in advance of a public meeting of California’s independent redistricting commission, and wrote talking points for those constituents to deliver during the public-comments portion of the meeting at Long Beach City Hall in April 2011.
The redistricting work was done at Richardson’s direction — rather than on a voluntary basis — these sources said.
A spokesman for the Ethics Committee declined to comment on the Richardson case, but several sources indicated that investigators have expanded the probe and are now looking into the redistricting angle.
Iranians’ Internet access blocked temporarily: experts – Most computer users in Iran were blocked from accessing email, social networking and other services in recent days, U.S.-based Internet experts said on Monday, raising fears the government is extending the reach of its surveillance on ordinary citizens.
Internet service providers presumed to be acting at the Iranian government’s behest began blocking the most common form of secure connections on Friday, according to the outside experts and Iranian bloggers. Traffic rebounded to normal levels on Monday.
The cutoff apparently affected all encrypted international websites outside of Iran that depend on the Secure Sockets Layer protocol, which display addresses beginning with https, according to Earl Zmijewski of Renesys, a U.S. company that tracks Internet traffic worldwide.
SEIU Local 1000 and the Union of American Physicians and Dentists support AB 1655, the “Public Employees Bill of Rights Act.” Here’s what it would do:
• Gives unionized state employees priority over outside contractors and excluded state workers to fill permanent, overtime and on-call positions.
• Sets a one-year statute of limitations for employers to take an adverse action against a state employee. (The current law allows disciplinary actions up to three years after the discovery of fraud, embezzlement or records falsification.)
• Establishes a peer review committee to provide workplace operations input.
• Guarantees that the state won’t impose “unreasonable quotas” on employees.
• Bans extra work created by vacancies, furloughs of layoffs without “fair compensation.”
• Gives priority to workplace safety and health grievances.
• Explicitly bans workplace discrimination.
• Strengthens whistleblower protections.
• Requires employers exercise “preventive and corrective” actions before administering harsher employee discipline.
• Settles grievances in favor of the employee if the employer misses contractual deadlines for response.
• Defines protections and performance and merit evaluation processes for professionally licensed employees.
• Guarantees independent legal representation for professionally licensed workers named as codefendants in litigation against their employers.
A Center for Health Reporting article published in The Bee over the weekend detailed the shortcomings of the managed care program, including long wait times and comparatively low rates of dental care among the more than 110,000 Sacramento County children covered by the program.
In a letter to California Department of Health Care Services Director Toby Douglas, Steinberg called for immediate action to address what he called a “crisis in prevention and treatment services.”
“Despite that state funding, disturbing specific patient cases as well as the department’s own data cited in the article make it abundantly clear that prevention and treatment services are woefully inadequate for those children most in need,” the Sacramento Democrat wrote in the letter.
In addition to the investigation, Steinberg asked the administration to step up its monitoring of dental plans under contract with the program and withhold payments or cancel contracts with plans that fail to provide proper access to care or meet other performance standards.
A new Pew Research Center poll found Santorum and Romney neck-and-neck, with Santorum winning 30 percent of the support among Republican registered voters to Romney’s 28 percent — a difference that falls well within the poll’s five percentage point margin of error. Separately, Gallup’s latest tracking survey of the Republican race found Romney with 32 percent support and Santorum right on his heels with 30 percent.
Of concern for Romney, the Pew poll shows him struggling among the conservative groups that make up the Republican base. Among self-identified conservatives, Santorum leads Romney by an 11 percent margin, 36 percent to 25 percent. Among Tea Party supporters, Santorum leads 42 percent to 23 percent.
Romney’s support among Tea Party supporters is essentially unchanged from last month, when he received 26 percent support from Tea Party supporters to 24 percent each for Santorum and Newt Gingrich. But Santorum’s lead among the group may be a sign that they have begun to see him as the alternative to Romney.
The American Spectator : Can Mitt Close the Deal? – Cold, bleak February has turned into a happy time for us. It’s given us a short break from the constant barrage of debates, speeches and “crucial” primaries in the Republican presidential nomination contest. February has given us, and the candidates, a bit of time to think. Let’s make the most of it.
The nomination is still up for grabs. Mitt Romney has the clearest path to it but Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul are all promising to take it all the way to the convention. To those who natter about how cool a “brokered” convention would be, I say don’t wish for something because you might get it. (Among other frightful questions, who can be the brokers? It’ll be a food fight that benefits only the media.) The Republican Party is too weak and fractured to come out of such an event united and strong enough to win in November.
So let’s assume that Romney is the nominee. The arithmetic is pretty simple. Mitt Romney plus an energized Republican base can beat Obama in November. Romney without an energized base will lose. But the Republican base is conservative, and Romney hasn’t closed the deal with conservatives. Can he?
Let’s face it: Romney isn’t one of us. At CPAC last Friday he said he governed Massachusetts as a “severely conservative” Republican in the tone of voice my late maternal grandmother used to say she was severely constipated. We know his record as state candidate and governor, and national candidate since 2007. We need not rehearse it here. Suffice it to say that it defines him as a transactional conservative. He will apply conservative principles as a business owner might apply production scenarios and estimated profit margins to negotiating a deal. They aren’t part of his core, but will be useful tools for him in campaigning and, if he wins, governing.
“It is not clear whether Gingrich remains in the race because he still believes he could become president next year or because he wants to avenge his wounded pride: an ambiguity that suggests the problem with him as a leader. When he led Santorum in the polls, he urged the Pennsylvanian to leave the race. On his own arguments the proper course for him now is to endorse Santorum and exit,” the editors of the influential conservative online magazine wrote in an op-ed posted Monday.
Santorum moves ahead in Michigan – Rick Santorum’s taken a large lead in Michigan’s upcoming Republican primary. He’s at 39% to 24% for Mitt Romney, 12% for Ron Paul, and 11% for Newt Gingrich.
Santorum’s rise is attributable to two major factors: his own personal popularity (a stellar 67/23 favorability) and GOP voters increasingly souring on Gingrich. Santorum’s becoming something closer and closer to a consensus conservative candidate as Gingrich bleeds support.
Santorum’s winning an outright majority of the Tea Party vote with 53% to 22% for Romney and 10% for Gingrich. He comes close to one with Evangelicals as well at 48% to 20% for Romney and 12% for Gingrich. And he cracks the 50% line with voters identifying as ‘very conservative’ at 51% to 20% for Romney and 10% for Gingrich.