These are my news headlines for February 21st through February 22nd:
With Axelrod At NBC News, The Marriage Of Media And Politics Becomes Complete – What’s more, Team Obama has declared it has no intention of dismantling its campaign apparatus post re-election. Put Axelrod in the catbird seat at a news outlet and the “narrative” continues. Combine that with Team Obama’s masterful manipulation of journalists, its command of social media, and an ugly picture emerges of a press indistinguishable from the political establishment.This has happened in banana republics, but never in a Western democracy. Already it’s making old-school journalists who value news gathering over politics, such as the New York Times’ Roger Cohen, ABC’s Ann Compton and the Washington Post’s David Ignatius, uncomfortable. The one thing that will stop it is a press that won’t cooperate. So where is that press?
Budget hawks question Pentagon’s doomsday scenarios – But perhaps the biggest example of the Washington Monument maneuver is coming from the Defense Department, where it goes by another name. Over many decades of defense budget battles, the Pentagon has often used a tactic known as a “gold watch.” It means to answer a budget cut proposal by selecting for elimination a program so important and valued — a gold watch — that Pentagon chiefs know political leaders will restore funding rather than go through with the cut.So now, with sequestration approaching, the Pentagon has announced that the possibility of budget cuts has forced the Navy to delay deployment of the carrier USS Harry S. Truman to the Persian Gulf. With tensions with Iran as high as they’ve ever been, that would leave the U.S. with just one carrier, instead of the preferred two, in that deeply troubled region.
What Unites Obama’s Coalition — and What Could Divide It – Overall, the survey put Obama’s approval rating at 51 percent — almost exactly replicating his share of the vote last November. For all of his key groups, his approval ratings today remain close to his vote shares against Republican Mitt Romney. The survey put his approval among African-Americans at 91 percent (compared to his vote of 93 percent in November), among Hispanics at 68 percent (compared to 71 percent in November), college-educated white women at 48 percent (compared to 46 percent), and adults ages 18 to 29 at 57 percent (compared to 60 percent). Considering that several percent of those in each group described themselves as undecided on Obama’s performance, those numbers suggest almost no change from his support in the election.
Noonan: Government by Freakout – The president’s sequester strategy is like Howard Beale in “Network”: “Woe is us. . . . And woe is us! We’re in a lot of trouble!”It is always cliffs, ceilings and looming catastrophes with Barack Obama. It is always government by freakout.
That’s what’s happening now with the daily sequester warnings. Seven hundred thousand children will be dropped from Head Start. Six hundred thousand women and children will be dropped from aid programs. Meat won’t be inspected. Seven thousand TSA workers will be laid off, customs workers too, and air traffic controllers. Lines at airports will be impossible. The Navy will slow down the building of an aircraft carrier. Troop readiness will be disrupted, weapons programs slowed or stalled, civilian contractors stiffed, uniformed first responders cut back. Our nuclear deterrent will be indefinitely suspended. Ha, made that one up, but give them time.Mr. Obama has finally hit on his own version of national unity: Everyone get scared together.
Is President Obama overplaying sequestration hand? – President Barack Obama’s greatest adversary in the latest budget battle isn’t the Republican leadership in Congress — it’s his confidence in his own ability to force a win.He has been so certain of his campaign skills that he didn’t open a line of communication with House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell until Thursday, a week before the spending ax hits. And when they did finally hear from Obama, the calls were perfunctory, with no request to step up negotiations or invitations to the White House.
Fewer Americans Getting Health Insurance From Employer – Fewer Americans reported having employer-based health insurance in 2012 than did in 2008, 2009, and 2010, but at 44.5% it is unchanged from 2011. At the same time, more Americans continue to report having a government-based health plan — Medicare, Medicaid, or military or veterans’ benefits — with the 25.6% who did so in 2012 up from 23.4% in 2008.
A Tax By Another Name – Writing in the New York Times yesterday, Yuval Levin made the case for means-testing Social Security and Medicare. As you’d expect from Yuval the case is well made and elegantly thought-through. It’s also, if I may respectfully say so, misguided. Partly as a consequence of the refusal to make consumption take its fair share of the tax load, the US already taxes income on a pretty progressive basis (even more so, I suspect, if, just for the sake of argument, you excluded the very richest from the equation—highly taxed wage income generally makes up a lower percentage of their total take). Means-testing these two programs would only tighten the screws still further.
Charles Krauthammer: Immigration — the lesser of two evils – The president suggested he would hold off introducing his own immigration bill as long as bipartisan Senate negotiations were proceeding apace — until his own immigration bill mysteriously leaked precisely as bipartisan Senate negotiations were proceeding apace.A naked political maneuver and a blunt warning to Republicans: Finish that immigration deal in Congress, or I’ll propose something I know you can’t accept — and flog the issue mercilessly next year to win back the House.
These are my links for December 12th through December 13th:
The Republican brand problem – One thing comes through loud and clear in the new NBC/Wall Street Journal national poll: Republicans have a major brand problem.Consider the following findings in the NBC/WSJ poll:* Asked an open-ended question as to what single word or short phrase people would use to describe the Republican Party, 65 percent of the responses were negative, while just 17 percent were positive. (For Democrats, 35 percent were positive, while 37 percent were negative.) Among the most oft-mentioned phrases used to describe Republicans: “bad/weak/negative” (8 percent), “uncompromising/need to work together” (6 percent) and “broken/disorganized/lost” (6 percent). So, that happened.* The poll tested the positive and negative ratings for 11 politicians or political institutions. The lowest rated — in terms of the differential between positive and negative ratings — was the Republican Party, with a 30 percent positive score and a 45 percent negative score. Of the five worst positive-to-negative ratios, Republicans claimed four of them. (The lone exception: Susan Rice with a 20 positive/24 percent net-negative score.)
* When asked who they trusted more in “handling the fiscal cliff,” 38 percent named President Obama while just 19 percent named House Speaker John Boehner and Republicans in Congress. (Fourteen percent said they trusted both equally, and another 28 percent said they trusted neither side.)
What those numbers make clear is that the Republican brand is badly damaged. It is regarded by too many people as an uncompromising relic of the past — a party that lacks new ideas and is, therefore, forced to largely serve as a blockade to the other side. (That’s the biggest reason, by the way, why Republicans should be interested in compromising on the fiscal cliff. They gap between how Obama is regarded and how they are seen is enough to make going over the cliff a genuine political loser for them.)
California prison phychiatrist under investigation for $800,000 pay – After raking in half a million dollars for being “on call,” California’s top paid public employee of 2011 — a prison psychiatrist from Newark — has been suspended with pay for allegedly falsifying time records, officials said Tuesday.Dr. Mohammad Safi, 54, was paid more than $803,000 last year as a supervising senior psychiatrist at a Department of State Hospitals facility within Salinas Valley State Prison in Monterey County, records show.That amount included more than $503,000 for on-call pay — in Safi’s case being available to respond quickly to emergencies.His suspension was first reported Wednesday by Bloomberg News, which published an extensive analysis of state government pay that ranked California tops in the nation. It showed Safi was paid more than twice as much as any state psychiatrist in the 12 states Bloomberg examined.
California lawmaker Roger Hernandez proposes benefits for undocumented immigrants – A California lawmaker wants to expand government benefits for hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who qualify for a new federal work-permit program.Assemblyman Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina) introduced legislation this week aimed at illegal immigrants who are part of an Obama administration protocol that allows undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before they were 16, and who are now 30 or younger and meet certain other criteria, to obtain work permits.The bill, AB 35, would enable those immigrants to obtain state identification cards and receive unemployment benefits and state-administered medical services. This year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a measure that will allow that group of young immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.
Fiscal Cliff Creates Problems That Don’t Faze Obama – Is Barack Obama bluffing when he threatens to go over the fiscal cliff if Republicans refuse to agree to higher tax rates on high earners?Some analysts think so. Keith Hennessey, a former top staffer for the Bush White House and Senate Republicans and a veteran of budget negotiations, argues that Obama’s whole second term would be blighted if he allows the fiscal cliff tax increases and sequestration budget cuts to take place next month.
Blue Shield of California seeks rate hikes up to 20% – Health insurer Blue Shield of California wants to raise rates as much as 20% for some individual policyholders, prompting calls for the nonprofit to use some of its record-high reserve of $3.9 billion to hold down premiums.In filings with state regulators, Blue Shield is seeking an average rate increase of 12% for more than 300,000 customers, effective in March, with a maximum increase of 20%.Some consumer advocates and healthcare economists say Blue Shield shouldn’t be raising rates that high when it has stockpiled so much cash. The company’s surplus is nearly three times as much as the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Assn. requires its member insurers to hold to cover future claims.”Blue Shield is sitting on a huge surplus that is beyond what is required or necessary,” said Laurie Sobel, a senior attorney for Consumers Union in San Francisco. “It should be used to hold down rate increases when it hits these extraordinary levels.”
California officials can take into account an insurer’s amount of surplus, among many other factors, when determining whether they think a rate increase is reasonable. Both the California insurance commissioner and the state Department of Managed Health Care are reviewing the company’s proposed premiums, but neither agency has the authority to reject changes in rates
DeMint: Obama wants cliff dive – South Carolina GOP Sen. Jim DeMint accused President Barack Obama on Thursday of trying to take the country over the fiscal cliff.“The president campaigned on raising taxes and getting rid of the Bush-era tax cuts, and he’s gonna get his wish,” DeMint said on CBS’s “This Morning.”
Continue Reading“I believe we’re going to be raising taxes, not just on the top earners. Everyone is going to pay more taxes next year in this country, and I think that’s what the president wants. … If you look at the facts, we don’t need more revenue, we just need to stop spending. The president is not going to stop spending. He’s proposed more spending. So it’s hard to work with someone who I think is intentionally trying to take us over this cliff.”
GOP tech gap needs millions – Republicans need to make a multimillion-dollar investment to close a digital gap with Democrats and President Obama, according to GOP tech experts.The party faces a growing urgency to catch up with Democrats; frustrated GOP operatives believe the party is lagging in an area widely agreed to have given Obama the edge in the last two presidential election cycles.“Everyone in the party is frustrated. I haven’t talked to one person who thinks that the Republicans were more successful online in 2012 [than in 2008 or 2010],” said Vincent Harris, a GOP strategist who ran digital campaigns for Rick Perry’s and Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaigns.“There is no doubt in my mind that this is the moment that this must be fixed. The good news, though, is that everyone seems to be open to solutions,” he said
The do’s and don’ts of quitting smoking – Anyone who has ever smoked and tried to quit knows how addictive nicotine can be. But what really works when it comes to quitting? Several former smokers had some hard-earned tips that might help you quit.Carla Berg, a Winship Cancer Institute addiction expert and professor at the Emory School of Public Health, had talked to hundreds of people trying to quit.”One thing I hear from people all the time is, ‘I’m just waiting to feel ready to quit,’ or, ‘I just need to want to quit and then I’ll quit.’ And what we know is that just rarely happens out of nowhere. So I always tell people if you’re waiting for the best time to quit smoking, that time is now,” said Berg.So what works? Through her Facebook Page, FOX 5’s Beth Galvin asked former smokers to share their secrets.
Election over, administration unleashes new rules – While the “fiscal cliff” of looming tax increases and spending cuts dominates political conversation in Washington, some Republicans and business groups see signs of a “regulatory cliff” that they say could be just as damaging to the economy.For months, federal agencies and the White House have sidetracked dozens of major regulations that cover everything from power plant pollution to workplace safety to a crackdown on Wall Street.The rules had been largely put on hold during the presidential campaign as the White House sought to quiet Republican charges that President Barack Obama was an overzealous regulator who is killing U.S. jobs.But since the election, the Obama administration has quietly reopened the regulations pipeline.
Poll: Obama won 71% of Asian Vote – But Not Wedded to Either Party – Asian American voters came out in droves for President Barack Obama over GOP challenger Mitt Romney, but the country’s fastest growing ethnic group is not wedded to either party, according to a new poll out Wednesday.Obama won an estimated 2.3 million of their votes to Romney’s estimated 900,000 votes, or 71 percent to 28 percent, according to the survey by the Asian American Justice Center, Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote and the National Asian American Survey
5 ways the GOP can do better with Latinos – A coalition of conservative groups is releasing a major study of Latino voters in four key states this morning, and Republicans would be wise to heed its lessons.Resurgent Republic and the Hispanic Leadership Network are presenting the findings of their study at 9 a.m. Eastern. The polls of Florida, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada show Republicans remain in contention for as many as half of Latino voters in those four states in 2016, but fewer than one-quarter of Latinos in each state say they are likely to vote Republican four years from now.
Election Integrity Activist Calls for Prop 37 Recount – Another Bay Area citizen has called for a recount on a statewide ballot measure, this time on Prop 37, and she’s being helped by the man responsible for the Prop 29 recount last summer.Lori Grace, an election integrity activist based in Tiburon, Calif., filed a formal request with the Secretary of State’s office on Monday for a recount in the contest over Prop 37, a voter initiative that would require special labels on foods containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. (There won’t be any other ballot measure recounts from the general election, since Monday was the last day to file).Having two such recounts in one year is highly unusual, if not unprecedented. The earlier effort came after the June primary, when Bay Area surgeon John Maa requested a recount for Prop 29, the cigarette tax initiative that would have helped to fund cancer research.Now Maa is imparting some of his own hard-earned (and expensive — recounts in California must be bankrolled by the requester) knowledge to Grace. Both acknowledged that Maa has given her strategical advice on how to proceed.
California Governor Jerry Brown has early-stage prostate cancer – Gov. Jerry Brown is undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, his office announced this afternoon.The governor’s office described the condition as a “localized prostate cancer” and said Brown is continuing to work a full schedule while being treated with a short course of radiation.It released a statement from Eric Small, Brown’s oncologist at University of California San Francisco.”Fortunately, this is early stage localized prostate cancer, which is being treated with a short course of conventional radiotherapy,” Small said in the statement. “The prognosis is excellent, and there are not expected to be any significant side effects.”
As ‘fiscal cliff’ nears, Obama schedule loaded with photo-ops, holiday parties, golf – Since returning from a trip to southeast Asia on Nov. 21, President Obama has managed to play three rounds of golf but has met face-to-face only once with Speaker John A. Boehner, the man with whom he is trying to strike a deal on taxes and spending that could prevent another recession.With the deadline for going over the “fiscal cliff” less than three weeks away, the president’s schedule this week is exceptionally light. It does not include any time on the links with Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, who is also an avid golfer.On Monday, Mr. Obama’s only public event was a trip to Detroit, where he held a campaign-style rally with union auto workers that was ostensibly a push for middle-class tax cuts but mainly showcased Mr. Obama’s criticism of Michigan’s new “right-to-work” labor law.“It seems to me, that time would have been better spent here in Washington, D.C., working on the fiscal cliff, but he was in Michigan,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Republican.
On Tuesday, Mr. Obama had lunch with Vice President Joseph R. Biden and spoke to Mr. Boehner by phone late in the day. The president spent much of his evening with first lady Michelle Obama posing for photographs with members of the White House press corps and their guests at a holiday party. (Mr. Obama actually has performed this function twice in the past week; there was another media holiday party at the White House on Dec. 5).
California prison health care receiver issues layoff notices – California Correctional Health Care Services has issued layoff warnings to 2,200 of its employees with a goal of axing 829 positions early next year.The cuts will touch nearly 60 job classifications around the state, from doctors to custodians and impact 38 jobs in Sacramento County. The statewide cuts take effect Mar. 31, 2013.The state normally issues three lay off warning notices for every position it cuts, and workers in danger of losing their jobs can displace less-senior counterparts in state government, so it’s not clear how many staff will actually lose work. Officials don’t have an estimate of savings from the reductions.
Rep. Moran: Son’s Attack on Girlfriend “An Accident” – Virginia Rep. Jim Moran’s office has another statement about his son’s arrest for assaulting his girlfriend in Columbia Heights earlier this month. And it turns out it was all an accident, according to Moran, despite his son’s guilty plea to assault.”The situation was an accident,” Moran spokeswoman Anne Hughes writes in an email, adding that both Moran and his girlfriend testified to that in court. “Patrick didn’t hit or shove her.”Hughes claims that only Patrick Moran and his girlfriend were around to see the alleged attack. “They were the only two people who witnessed the scene,” writes Hughes. “In that sense, their statements are the only ones that matter.”That would contradict the police report, which describes both a Metropolitan Police Department sergeant and an Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration investigator seeing Moran slam his girlfriend’s head into a trash can cage outside the Getaway, a 14th Street NW bar.
Democratic senator Menendez employed illegal immigrant who was registered sex offender – U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez employed as an unpaid intern in his Senate office an illegal immigrant who was a registered sex offender, now under arrest by immigration authorities, The Associated Press has learned. The Homeland Security Department instructed federal agents not to arrest him until after Election Day, a U.S. official involved in the case told the AP.Luis Abrahan Sanchez Zavaleta, an 18-year-old immigrant from Peru, was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in front of his home in New Jersey on Dec. 6, two federal officials said. Sanchez, who entered the country on a now-expired visitor visa from Peru, is facing deportation and remains in custody. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details of Sanchez’s immigration case.
Fiscal Cliff: Hundreds of Billions Apart – The bellowing on Capitol Hill about which side has offered more “specifics” to resolve the fiscal cliff showdown masks a larger problem for Washington: The two sides are still hundreds of billions of dollars apart on revenue and entitlement cuts.Not to mention, Republicans and Democrats are also light-years apart on policy details that back up those budget targets.That’s why there’s increasing skepticism in Washington that a deal actually can be reached before Jan. 1, and the country will go over the fiscal cliff.
Fiscal Cliff: 180 economists oppose tax hike – A letter signed by 180 economists opposed to tax increases as part of a fiscal cliff deal will be delivered to Congress on Wednesday, according to a national anti-tax group.The letter argues that hiking tax rates would have a “significant, negative impact on the economy” and is slated to be sent to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, said Pete Sepp, executive vice president of the National Taxpayers Union, the low-taxes advocacy group that coordinated the effort.
War-making for Losers By Mark Steyn – The new US Army manual for troops heading east apparently blames the tendency of Afghanistan’s US-trained soldiers and policemen to shoot their western “allies” on “American cultural ignorance”. Fortunately, the manual offers a solution:The draft leaked to the newspaper offers a list of “taboo conversation topics” that soldiers should avoid, including “making derogatory comments about the Taliban”…I mean, it’s not like they’re the enemy or anything.…“advocating women’s rights,” “any criticism of pedophilia,” “directing any criticism towards Afghans,” “mentioning homosexuality and homosexual conduct” or “anything related to Islam.”
Inside the Boehner-Ryan Alliance – The speaker and the former GOP veep contender are quiet partners – Paul Ryan spent the summer and fall in the national spotlight, but this winter he’s a subdued presence. He’s rarely granting interviews, and his public appearances have been scattered, with the most high profile a speech at the Kemp Foundation dinner. His closest friends say that he wants to return to his work quietly, and that he’s uninterested in playing a prominent role in the fiscal-cliff debate, even though he’s the GOP’s reigning budget expert.
These are my links for September 10th through September 12th:
Attack Planned: US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and 3 other Americans killed in protest over film ridiculing Prophet Mohammed– Tuesday night’s deadly assault that killed the American ambassador to Libya and three other Americans was planned by attackers who used protests as a diversion, sources told CNN today.Earlier reports said the Americans were killed when a mob of protesters and gunmen overwhelmed the US Consulate in Benghazi, setting fire to it in outrage over a film that ridicules Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.Libya’s new president apologized Wednesday for the attack, which underlined the lawlessness plaguing a region trying to recover from months of upheaval.
Ambassador Chris Stevens, 52, died as he and a group of embassy employees went to the consulate to try to evacuate staff as a crowd of hundreds attacked the consulate Tuesday evening, many of them firing machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades.
By the end of the assault, much of the building was burned out and trashed. Stevens was the first US ambassador to be killed in the line of duty since 1979.
A Libyan doctor who treated Stevens said he died of severe asphyxiation, apparently from smoke. In a sign of the chaos of during the attack, Stevens was brought alone by Libyans to the Benghazi Medical Center with no other Americans, and no one at the facility knew who he was, the doctor, Ziad Abu Zeid, told The Associated Press.
Stevens was practically dead when he arrived close to 1 a.m. on Wednesday, but “we tried to revive him for an hour and a half but with no success,” Abu Zeid said. The ambassador had bleeding in his stomach because of the asphyxiation but no other injuries, he said.
Peggy Noonan: Romney not ‘doing himself any favors’– The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan is criticizing Mitt Romney’s response to the death of a U.S. diplomat in Libya, telling Fox News today she doesn’t feel that the Republican presidential nominee “has been doing himself any favors” in the past few hours.“I was thinking as he spoke, I think I belong to the old school of thinking that in times of great drama and heightened crisis, and in times when something violent has happened to your people, I always think discretion is the better way to go,” Noonan said. “When you step forward in the midst of a political environment and start giving statements on something dramatic and violent that has happened, you’re always leaving yourself open to accusations that you are trying to exploit things politically.”In a statement last night, Romney slammed the Obama administration for sympathizing “with those who waged the attacks” rather than condemning the attacks outright. Romney doubled-down on that attack today during a press conference, telling reporters the statement was “akin to apology” and that it was “disgraceful to apologize for American values.”But Romney’s effort to politicize the violence in Libya was met with blowback not just from the Obama administration but from the media. “[Romney’s] doubling down on criticism… is likely to be seen as one of the most craven and ill-advised tactical moves in this entire campaign,” Time magazine’s Mark Halperin wrote on his blog.
The Insane MSM Questions Romney Faced at Presser– So if a presidential candidate gives remarks about a foreign-policy crisis, you’d be forgiven for thinking that in the Q&A held immediately afterward, reporters would ask him about . . . foreign policy. But when Mitt Romney took questions today after talking about the situation in Libya and Egypt, the dominant theme of the questions was all about process and politics. Here are the seven questions asked:1. Reporter brings up that Romney had a “toughly worded statement last night,” and asks, “Do you regret the tone at all given what we know now?”2. “Do you think, though, coming so soon after the events really had unfolded over night was appropriate, to be weighing in on this as this crisis was unfolding in real time?” Follow-up: “What did the White House do wrong then, Gov. Romney, if they put out a statement saying they disagreed with it?”3. “The world is watching. Isn’t this itself a mixed signal when you criticize the administration at a time that Americans are being killed? Shouldn’t politics stop for this?”
4. “Some people have said that you jumped the gun a little bit in putting that statement out last night and that you should have waited until more details were available. Do you regret having that statement come out so early before we learned about all of the things that were happening?”
5. “If you had known last night that the ambassador had died, and obviously, I’m gathering you did not know . . . if you had known that the ambassador had died, would you have issued such a strongly-issued statement?”
6. Reporter comments that Romney is running on his “economic know-how and private sector experience,” and adds, “but now that foreign policy and the situation in the Middle East has been thrust into the presidential campaign, can you talk about why specifically you think you are better qualified than President Obama to handle these issues?”
7. “How specifically, Governor Romney, would a President Romney have handled this situation differently than President Obama did? You spoke out before midnight, when all the facts weren’t known. How would you have handled this differently than the president did?”
Only the last question even addressed what Romney would have done if he was in office. None of the questions asked Romney to give details or be more specific about what he thinks the United States should do going forward.
Open mic captures press coordinating questions for Romney “no matter who he calls on we’re covered”– Before Romney issued his statement today, an open mic capture the press coordinating questions to ask Romney, with one saying “no matter who he calls on we’re covered on the one question”. I’ve transcribed it to the best of my ability but the audio is below for verification:I’ve labeled one as the CBS News reporter as I believe it is Nancy Cordes who works for CBS News. If I’ve gotten that wrong I apologize and will correct.UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: …pointing out that the Republicans… *unintelligible* …Obama….CBS REPORTER: That’s the question.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: *unintelligible*
CBS REPORTER: Yeah that’s the question. I would just say do you regret your question.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Your question? Your statement?
CBS REPORTER: I mean your statement. Not even the tone, because then he can go off on…
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And then if he does, if we can just follow up and say ‘but this morning your answer is continuing to sound…’ – *becomes unintelligble*
CBS REPORTER: You can’t say that..
CBS REPORTER: I’m just trying to make sure that we’re just talking about, no matter who he calls on we’re covered on the one question.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you stand by your statement or regret your statement?
Dead Ambassador dragged through streets, MSM furious at Romney criticism of Obama– If there ever were a doubt, no matter how small, that the mainstream media is deeply in bed with the Obama campaign, the reaction to the killing of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and several other Americans should put such doubt to rest.Beginning early this morning, when news was just breaking, the left-blogosphere and mainstream media, led by MSNBC, has attempted to shift the focus from the Obama administration’s failure to protect our embassies and for its apologies (both before and after the attack on the Cairo Embassy) to whether Mitt Romney was wrong to criticize Obama last night.No, I’m not kidding.
No Record of Intel Briefings for Obama Week Before Embassy Attacks – According to the White House calendar, there is no public record of President Barack Obama attending his daily intelligence briefing–known as the Presidential Daily Brief (PDB)–in the week leading up to the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Cairo and the murder of U.S. Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens and three American members of his staff:
Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze on Dish TV– Glenn Beck is set for a TV comeback with his online channel TheBlaze launching on Dish Network Wednesday.“TheBlaze has helped revolutionize television over the Internet and now we are excited to bring the revolution back to traditional television,” Beck said in a press release. “TheBlaze will be home to news, information and entertainment programming with the facts and stories people care about most and we look forward to kicking things off with DISH.”The 24-hour online network will be available to Dish viewers starting on Sept. 12 at 5 p.m. Viewers with Dish’s America Top 250 package will be able to watch the channel, or can purchase it separately for $5 a month. TheBlaze — which celebrated its one-year anniversary on Wednesday — will continue to be available online, the release noted.“After being phenomenally successful with his online streaming network, we’re pleased to host Glenn Beck’s return to broadcast TV, especially during this exciting and important political season,” DISH CEO and President Joseph Clayton said in a press release on Wednesday announcing the launch. “With Glenn’s return, DISH is truly th
Obama, Romney locked in tight race in Nevada– President Obama travels to Nevada on Wednesday to further his attempt to win the state’s six electoral votes in the face of the country’s worst unemployment rate and a sputtering housing market.The conventional wisdom around the Silver State is that while Obama faces significant headwinds to repeat his 2008 victory in Nevada, he remains the favorite given his slight but steady lead in polls.“With 56 days to go, basically both campaigns would privately acknowledge that Obama is ahead,” said Jon Ralston, one of the state’s top political commentators. “The question is, how far ahead? The Obama folks think they’re above the margin of error. And the Romney folks think they’re within the margin of error.”
Obama Announces Letterman Appearance on Day He Snubbed Netanyahu– President Barack Obama will be visiting one of his biggest fans soon – late night talker David Letterman.The president will chat with the “Late Show” host during a trip to New York City next week, according to the National Journal. Letterman’s nightly monologues mostly spare the president from satirical ribbing, saving his most cutting remarks for the Romneys … or even former President George W. Bush.The news comes on the same day Obama told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he couldn’t meet with him due to a scheduling conflict.
United States and Israel Engage in Public Spat Over Iran Policy – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel inserted himself into the most contentious foreign policy issue of the American presidential campaign on Tuesday, criticizing the Obama administration for refusing to set clear “red lines” on Iran’s nuclear progress that would prompt the United States to undertake a military strike. As a result, he said, the administration has no “moral right” to restrain Israel from taking military action of its own.
Polls: Ryan beats Biden in popularity– Paul Ryan has had a higher favorability rating than Vice President Biden in every major nonpartisan national poll since the Wisconsin lawmaker was picked for the GOP vice presidential slot.In these polls, Ryan averaged a likability factor 7.5 percentage points higher than Biden, and he even bested President Obama’s favorability rating four out of six times.
Poll Shows Allen Up 5 Over Kaine in Virginia Senate Race – The same Gravis Marketing Poll released today that showed Mitt Romney leading Barack Obama by 49-44 in Virginia showed Republican George Allen leading Democrat Tim Kaine 47-42 in the Senate race. For Allen, today’s 5 point margin reflects a 2 point increase from a poll conducted a month earlier by the same firm
Noonan’s Blog: Everyone Will Watch the Debates– 1. People will be watching. Convention viewership may have been down, but almost every voter who can, will watch at least some of the debates. Three reasons. First, nothing else has moved the needle, the race has been neck and neck for months. Second, a lot of people will use the debates to test and double-test their preliminary judgments. Is Romney really strong enough for this job? Is Obama really who I want to stick with? Third, it’s a contest, it’s combat. Someone will cross the goal line, one of them will beat the other. Someone will emerge the champ, or at least an undamaged contender. Unlike a convention, a debate is something a candidate can win right before your eyes.So: everyone will watch. What do they hope for? They’d like to think by the end, “That guy is a president” and turn it off and go to bed, resolved. They will also accept, “My guy didn’t screw up! It was a tie, but he didn’t lose, I’ll watch the next one.”
Depending on Dependency – – Thomas Sowell– The theme that most seemed to rouse the enthusiasm of delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte was that we are all responsible for one another — and that Republicans don’t want to help the poor, the sick and the helpless.All of us should be on guard against beliefs that flatter ourselves. At the very least, we should check such beliefs against facts.Yet the notion that people who prefer economic decisions to be made by individuals in the market are not as compassionate as people who prefer those decisions to be made collectively by politicians is seldom even thought of as a belief that should be checked against facts.Nor is this notion confined to Democrats in America today. Belief in the superior compassion of the political left is a worldwide phenomenon that goes back at least as far as the 18th century. But in all that time, and in all those places, there has been little, if any, effort on the left to check this crucial assumption against facts.
White House pushes back on claims from Woodward book– Bob Woodward’s new book on the collapse of the grand bargain has put the Obama White House on the defensive on economic policy just as the 2012 campaign enters its most crucial phase.Republicans have seized on The Price of Politics as evidence President Obama is in over his head on the economy.The White House on Monday pushed back against Woodward’s latest conclusions: that weak leadership by Obama worsened last year’s debt-ceiling crisis and led to the failure to enact a deficit grand bargain.Obama’s leadership during the crisis was “significant,” according to White House spokesman Jay Carney, and reflected a “sincere and deliberate” effort to compromise.
Washington Post-ABC News Poll Among Likely Voters: Obama 49% vs. Romney 48%– Last week’s Democratic National Convention helped President Obama improve his standing against Republican Mitt Romney, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, but did little to reduce voter concern about his handling of the economy.The survey shows that the race remains close among likely voters, with Obama at 49 percent and Romney at 48 percent, virtually unchanged from a poll taken just before the conventions.But among a wider sample of all registered voters, Obama holds an apparent edge, topping Romney at 50 percent to 44 percent, and has clear advantages on important issues in the campaign when compared with his rival
California ranked 4th worst in business legal climate– California ranks 47th in the nation in its courts’ “fairness and reasonableness” regarding business lawsuits, according to a poll conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform.Not only is the state’s legal climate as a whole ranked fourth worst in the nation, just ahead of Mississippi, Louisiana and West Virginia, but Los Angeles County has the second worst lawsuit climate among local jurisdictions and San Francisco fourth worst..Delaware, the legal home of many major corporations, ranks No. 1 in business legal climate.The rankings are based on a survey of corporate general counsels and senior attorneys, conducted by Harris Interactive.The annual survey has been conducted for the past decade, and California’s standing has declined during that period. The survey report called California courts “havens for class action lawsuits because judges certify cases for trial that wouldn’t be certified in most other parts of the country.” It noted that the largest asbestos verdict in the nation this year – $48 million for one plaintiff – came in a Los Angeles jury trial.
GM’s Volt – The ugly math of low sales, high costs – loss of $49K each– General Motors Co sold a record number of Chevrolet Volt sedans in August — but that probably isn’t a good thing for the automaker’s bottom line.Nearly two years after the introduction of the path-breaking plug-in hybrid, GM is still losing as much as $49,000 on each Volt it builds, according to estimates provided to Reuters by industry analysts and manufacturing experts.Cheap Volt lease offers meant to drive more customers to Chevy showrooms this summer may have pushed that loss even higher. There are some Americans paying just $5,050 to drive around for two years in a vehicle that cost as much as $89,000 to produce.And while the loss per vehicle will shrink as more are built and sold, GM is still years away from making money on the Volt, which will soon face new competitors from Ford, Honda and others
9 states where the race will be won– The presidential race has narrowed to a core of nine states, a collection of margin-of-error battlegrounds spread across nearly every region.From New Hampshire in the Northeast to Nevada in the Rocky Mountain West, there is little disagreement between the two campaigns about the places where the election will be won and lost. Aside from those two swing states, there are seven others: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.Some of them are familiar presidential battlegrounds, accustomed to playing a pivotal role every four years. Others are relative newcomers to the swing state roster. Every one of them was carried by President Barack Obama in 2008.According to interviews with campaign officials and strategists, here’s the state of play and the forces at work in the nine states:
Romney going up in Wisconsin with TV ads– Mitt Romney’s campaign will be launching TV ads in Wisconsin, reflecting its belief that the state is within its grasp. It was not an easy or risk-free choice to spend money there.The last two months of a campaign are when political consultants earn their keep. There are only so many hours in a day, so much airtime to be bought and so much money (even in an election with as much money already sloshing around as was spent in the entire 2008 race). One of those is where to try to expand the map for your candidate.A senior Romney adviser told me the spate of ads rolled out Friday in eight states was shipped before the Democratic National Convention and before the rotten August jobs numbers were known. But the campaign guessed right in making the ads intensely focused on jobs (even breaking down the number of jobs each state could hope to add under a Romney presidency) and emphasizing that Romney has a jobs plan. That economic message will be pounded home throughout the fall. There was a reason Obama was so glum in Charlotte on Thursday; the economy was and remains critical in the election and we are at best going sideways at a time the economy should be rolling full-steam ahead.
Re: Romney and Obamacare – Pre-existing Conditions?– I reached out to the Romney campaign for clarification about Mitt Romney’s remarks this morning about liking some parts of Obamacare. An aide pointed out that Romney first said on Meet the Press that “I say we are going to replace Obamacare. And I am replacing it with my own plan.”In reference to how Romney would deal with those with young adults who want to remain on their parents’ plans, a Romney aide responded that there had been no change in Romney’s position and that “in a competitive environment, the marketplace will make available plans that include coverage for what there is demand for. He was not proposing a federal mandate to require insurance plans to offer those particular features.”UPDATE: In reference to pre-existing conditions, a Romney aide responds, “Governor Romney will ensure that discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage is prohibited,” and refers me to these remarks Romney made in Florida in June:
Many Democrats have high hopes for the Southwest in Election 2012 and some even think that President Obama even has a decent shot to move Arizona from Republican to Democrat in the Electoral College column this November. However, the president may have an uphill fight to achieve that goal as most voters in the Grand Canyon State disapprove of the way he’s done his job.
A new Rasmussen Reports telephone poll found that just 41% of Likely Voters in Arizona approve of the way President Obama has performed his role. Fifty-six percent (56%) disapprove. Those figures are significantly lower than the president’s national ratings. They include 28% who Strongly Approve and 48% who Strongly Disapprove.
Romney up in Colorado, close race in Minnesota – Last night’s results in Nevada were bad news for Newt Gingrich and PPP’s first day of polling in Colorado and Minnesota indicates things may only get worse for him in the coming days.In Colorado Mitt Romney looks primed for another big Western win to match his one in Nevada. He leads with 40% there to 26% for Rick Santorum, 18% for Gingrich, and 12% for Ron Paul.
Minnesota looks like a toss up with any of the four candidates having some shot at winning. Santorum holds a small edge there with 29% to 27% for Romney, 22% for Gingrich, and 19% for Paul.
What both states have in common is that Gingrich has fallen precipitously since our last polls in them. In Colorado Gingrich was in first place with a 19 point lead in early December. His support has declined 19 points since then and his net favorability has dropped 33 points from +41 (64/23) to only +8 (49/41). Gingrich has had a similarly large decline in Minnesota, but there it’s much more abrupt. We polled the state only two weeks ago but in that time he’s dropped 14 points from 36% to 22%, and his favorability has 26 points from +34 (59/25) to +8 (47/39). That after glow from South Carolina has worn off real fast.
Romney tops 50% in final Nevada tally – Mitt Romney won Saturday’s Nevada caucuses with his highest portion of a state’s vote yet, just over 50%, according to certified results released Monday by the Nevada Republican Party.Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich finished in second place with just over 21% of the vote. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas placed third at 18.7%, and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania earned 9.9%.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who also won the state’s GOP caucuses in 2008, received more than twice the votes of his closest opponent.
Obama: I’m getting ‘better as time goes on’ – During an interview that aired Monday on NBC’s “Today” show, President Obama said that he gets “better as time goes on” at his job and that he believes the grassroots movement that propelled him to victory in 2008 will help him win a second term.”What’s frustrated people is that I’ve not been able to implement every aspect of what I said in 2008. Well, it turns out our Founders designed a system that makes it more difficult to bring about change than I would like sometimes. But what we have been able to do is move in the right direction,” Obama said.
“And you know what? One of the things about being president is you get better as time goes on,” he added.
Iran mass producing anti-ship cruise missile – Iran has begun mass production of an anti-ship cruise missile, state television’s website said on Saturday.The Zafar missile, as it is dubbed in the report, “is a short-range, anti-ship cruise missile capable of destroying small- and medium-sized targets with high precision.”
It can be mounted on speed boats and other light vessels, can withstand electronic warfare, and is able to fly in low altitudes to avoid detection, the report said.
Iran has a fleet of speed boats that often challenge US and allied warships in the Gulf.
The vessels are usually controlled by the elite Revolutionary Guards and can be equipped with missiles.
Nearly half of California jobless workers considered ‘long-term’ – Not only does California have more than 2 million unemployed workers, but nearly half of them have been jobless for 27 weeks or more, according to new data assembled by the state Department of Employment Development.”Between May 2007 and February 2011, the number of people who were jobless 27 weeks or more in California rose an astounding 620 percent,” says the EDD report.
Those who are called “long-term unemployed” grew from 15.9 percent of the jobless population in late 2007 to 46.8 percent last March, remaining over 46 percent in December.
“The rapid rise in long-term unemployment can be directly tied to the collapse of the housing bubble in California,” the report continues. “This event had dramatic effects on the construction and finance industries and on the duratio