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%).
Senator Rand Paul first discussed his higher aspirations at the beginning of this year. He said he wouldn’t close the door on being a Vice Presidential candidate. After a speech in Louisville today, Paul held that door firmly open, saying he wants to be part of the national debate.
Paul’s name has swirled as a possible pick that would give Romney points with the Tea Party. When asked directly what he would say if Romney made the offer, Paul tried to punt.
“I don’t know if I can answer that question, but I can say it would be an honor to be considered,” he said.
Bonuses given after raises at Solyndra – Washington Times – Several of the nearly two dozen employees at bankrupt solar panel maker Solyndra LLC who were approved for bonuses Wednesday had months earlier received pay raises as high as 70 percent, a fact the company never disclosed in its request for bonus cash.
The company’s bankruptcy attorneys sought permission for the bonuses in a court hearing, arguing that the extra cash is needed to keep key employees from fleeing only to be replaced by more expensive outside consultants.
With little chance of stable employment and officials moving to liquidate assets, the workers needed to wind down the company have little incentive to stay, the Solyndra attorneys argued.
But an attorney for fired Solyndra workers railed against the plan, saying several of the proposed bonus recipients had received significant salary increases even after the company went bankrupt.
The Post-ABC News poll reports that 69 percent of Republicans have a favorable impression of him, the highest among all the GOP contenders. Even among “very conservative voters” he draws a 62 percent favorable rating. Rick Santorum scores a 74 percent rating (although this may change after his dreadful debate performance), but the numbers suggest that these voters don’t dislike Romney. They simply like (or liked) Santorum better.
In part, voters see perhaps what the right-wing bloggers, with visions of flat taxes and privatized Social Security ( i.e., ideal but unachievable conservative purity) dancing in their heads, miss: Romney is running on a rather conservative agenda. Not hardcore or angry conservatism, but definitely right of center.
Santorum Keeps Lead in Michigan – A new American Research Group poll in Michigan finds Rick Santorum continues to lead the GOP presidential field with 38%, followed by Mitt Romney at 34%, Ron Paul at 12% and Newt Gingrich at 7%.
“You have to ask Congressman Paul and Governor Romney what they’ve got going together,” Santorum told reporters in the spin room in Mesa, Arizona. “Their commercials look a lot alike and so do their attacks.”
Santorum’s top strategist John Brabender went even further, charging that the two men had “joined forces” and were coordinating attacks against his man
“Clearly there’s a tag team strategy between Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. For all I know, Mitt Romney might be considering Ron Paul as his running mate. Clearly there is now an alliance between those two and you saw that certainly in the debate.”
The was also coordination in their attack ads, he charged. “Ron Paul for all practical purposes has pulled out of Michigan. Correct? Where’s he running negative ads against Rick Santorum? Michigan.
“It was interesting to me that if you watch Ron Paul when he came into the debate wrote negative things about Rick Santorum down because when he started to get questions he would immediately pick up his paper and start mentioning Santorum stuff.”
He added: “What is amazing to me this shows a remarkable ability by Romney, who has already proven to be the most negative man in history on TV, now he’s even training his opponents to be negative for his benefit and actually I think that takes remarkable skill.”
The Romney campaign ridiculed the notion there was any coordination. “If ever there was an iconoclast who got up there and said what he believed it’s Ron Paul,” said Stuart Stevens, Romney’s chief strategist.
The plan would roll back tens of millions of dollars in spending cuts for the Wisconsin Technical College System as well as a corporate tax cut passed by Republicans last year. Falk, a Democrat and former Dane County executive, is seeking to challenge Gov. Scott Walker in a likely recall election.
“My ‘Invest in Success’ plan will create jobs and spur economic growth by supporting what worked in Wisconsin for 100 years – investing in education and training workers through our technical college system,” Falk said in a statement.
To help balance the state budget, Walker and GOP lawmakers in June of last year cut nearly $73 million, or 25%, from the Technical College System budget over two years. To undo part of that, Falk wants to roll back a tax cut on multi-state corporations approved by Walker and GOP lawmakers in the budget.
Runner has been absent from the upper house since January, when she disclosed that complications related to her condition required her to work outside of Sacramento. She said today that she expects to make a full recovery and will focus on “business and philanthropic efforts” after leaving office.
“Serving the people of our community over my lifetime has been an amazing blessing and I am so very thankful for their support throughout each of my elections and my tenure in office,” Runner said in a statement. “In the coming years, I will be working on behalf of the community that I love, but not in the role as an elected official.”
Mr. Obama is proposing to raise the dividend tax rate to the higher personal income tax rate of 39.6% that will kick in next year. Add in the planned phase-out of deductions and exemptions, and the rate hits 41%. Then add the 3.8% investment tax surcharge in ObamaCare, and the new dividend tax rate in 2013 would be 44.8%—nearly three times today’s 15% rate.
Keep in mind that dividends are paid to shareholders only after the corporation pays taxes on its profits. So assuming a maximum 35% corporate tax rate and a 44.8% dividend tax, the total tax on corporate earnings passed through as dividends would be 64.1%.
Why Obama’s corporate tax plan is a total bust – The current U.S. economic recovery is arguably the worst in modern American history. Incomes are flat, housing is moribund, and the past three years have seen the longest stretch of high unemployment in this country since the Great Depression. Yet President Barack Obama—with the backing of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner—has the temerity to propose a corporate tax reform plan that would actually raise the tax burden on American business by $250 billion over a decade (and de facto on workers, too) without lowering rates to an internationally competitive level. This is a terrible, terrible plan:
1. The Obama-Geithner plan would lower the statutory corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 35 percent, currently the second-highest among advanced economies. But that would still leave the combined U.S. corporate tax rate—state and federal—at 32.2 percent, far above the OECD combined average of 25 percent. The U.S. combined rate would be a bit below slow-growing Japan and France but above the U.K. and Germany. That’s not nearly good enough. Canada just lowered its corporate tax rate, for instance, to 15 percent. So instead of having the second highest corporate tax rate in the world, the United States would probably be fourth behind Japan, France, and Belgium.
“He should just write a check and shut up,” Christie said Tuesday on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight.” “Really, and just contribute. The fact of the matter is that I’m tired of hearing about it. If he wants to give the government more money, he’s got the ability to write a check — go ahead and write it.”
Racial Preferences Redux – The Supreme Court revisits discrimination and government – When the Supreme Court last upheld racial preferences in college admissions, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote that she “expects that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary.” That was 2003. By agreeing to hear a challenge to the University of Texas’s admissions policies yesterday, the Justices may have pushed up that deadline.
Heritage defines dependency as significantly depending on the government for help in two of the following basic expense items: housing, food, shelter, income security or higher education.
At the end of 2007, Heritage conservatively estimates there were 59.4 million Americans significantly dependent on the government.
By the end of 2010, this number had risen to 67.3 million, an increase of nearly 8 million. It is likely that another two or three million were added in 2011, for a net increase of 10 million to 11 million over the past four years.
It is not a coincidence that the number of people participating in the labor force has comparably declined over the same period.
California rates health plans on quality measures – California’s largest health plans have improved their care for diabetic patients, but many need to do better at treating children with throat infections, testing for lung disease and helping people overcome drug and alcohol addictions.
These are among the findings of the 11th annual report card released Wednesday by the state Office of the Patient Advocate.
The report card is meant to give consumers an easy-to-use tool to compare the quality of care delivered by the state’s nine largest health maintenance organizations, six largest preferred provider organizations and 212 medical groups.
Each plan is ranked in categories of care with one to four stars, depending on how well it meets national standards or how its members rate it in such areas as ease of getting appointments and customer service.
“Publicly reporting is one tool to keep plans accountable,” said Sandra Perez, director of the Patient Advocate’s Office.
“The report card helps educate everyone on what types of treatment they should be receiving from their health plan,” she said.
As in previous years, Kaiser Permanente outshone its competitors, receiving the top ranking of four stars in most categories. Most other HMO or PPO plans had no categories with four stars.
Among medical groups, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation also earned top scores, with four stars in both patient rankings and meeting national standards of care.
Tightening Arizona Race Heightens Pressure on Romney – With polls showing Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum within the margin of error of each other in Arizona and Michigan, both candidates have some tough decisions to make ahead of the states’ primaries on Tuesday.
Just a few weeks ago, Romney seemed headed for big wins in both races. Now he finds himself trailing Santorum in his native Michigan, and Santorum creeping up on him in Arizona. That means the top rivals have to carefully figure out how to best divide their time and energy over the next six days.
Obama will propose lowering the nation’s corporate tax rate to 28 percent. At the same time, however, he will seek to increase the amount of revenues raised overall through corporate taxation by eliminating numerous deductions and loopholes that save companies tens of billions of dollars a year on their tax bills, according to a senior administration official.
Chris Christie: Rick Santorum’s Satan Comments Are Relevant – Rick Santorum says his 2008 comments that “Satan has set his sights on the United States of America” are “not relevant” to the 2012 presidential race, but Chris Christie told me on “GMA” that Santorum is wrong.
“Listen, I think anything you say as a presidential candidate is relevant. It is by definition relevant. You’re asking to be president of the United States. I don’t think [Santorum's] right about that. I think it is relevant what he says. I think people want to make an evaluation, a complete evaluation of anyone who asks to sit in the Oval Office,” the New Jersey governor said.
Adding to the religious discussion on the campaign trail, yesterday Santorum said he would “defend everything” he says and Mitt Romney said the Obama administration has “fought against religion.”
But Christie doesn’t think a debate over religion is a conversation the Republican Party wants to engage in.
“Do I think it’s the things we should be as a party talking about and emphasizing at the moment? No,” he said.
Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, flanked by his wife Karen, right, and daughter Elizabeth, addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, Friday, Feb. 10, 2012
These are my links for February 9th through February 13th:
Congressman wants Afghanistan study group – Citing an Army lieutenant colonel’s claims that there is no progress being made in Afghanistan, Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., is urging Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to create an independent study group to review U.S. strategy in the sandbox.
In a letter dated Friday, Wolf wrote he is deeply troubled by the conclusions reached by Lt. Col. Daniel Davis and asks Panetta to immediately create an Afghanistan/Pakistan Study Group.
In 2010 and 2011, Davis traveled to Afghanistan on assignment with the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force, an organization tasked with getting urgently needed equipment to soldiers in the field.
“What I saw bore no resemblance to rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground,” Davis wrote in an opinion piece titled “Truth, lies and Afghanistan,” published online Feb. 5 by Armed Forces Journal.
Rather than the gradual progress described by top U.S. officials, Davis wrote he saw, “the absence of success on virtually every level.”
During a yearlong deployment that began in late 2010, Davis wrote, his job sent him around the country to talk, travel and patrol with troops in Kandahar, Kunar, Ghazni, Khost, Paktika, Kunduz, Balkh, Nangarhar and other provinces. It was his fourth combat deployment, and his second in Afghanistan.
Davis wrote a classified and unclassified report. He has not released either report publicly. On his website, he says he will publish the full unclassified version as soon as Army public affairs completes its review and grants permission for release.
On Feb. 10, Rolling Stone magazine published a copy of the unclassified version on its website.
Davis has provided the reports to members of Congress — both Democrats and Republicans, senators and House members. He has also sent his reports to the Defense Department’s inspector general.
He declined to comment for this story.
The Pentagon maintains that the security environment in Afghanistan continues to improve.
During a briefing this week, Army Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, deputy commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, described steady progress in the country, from local and national government to the development of Afghan security forces. Responding to a question about Davis’ report, Scaparrotti said, “it’s one person’s view of this,” adding that he thought the Defense Department’s outlook is accurate.
Wolf has written similar letters to Panetta over the past several months.
The congressman is the author of the legislation that created the Iraq Study Group and has been pushing for the Obama administration to conduct a similar review of the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Santorum surges into the lead – Public Policy Polling – Riding a wave of momentum from his trio of victories on Tuesday Rick Santorum has opened up a wide lead in PPP’s newest national poll. He’s at 38% to 23% for Mitt Romney, 17% for Newt Gingrich, and 13% for Ron Paul.
Part of the reason for Santorum’s surge is his own high level of popularity. 64% of voters see him favorably to only 22% with a negative one. But the other, and maybe more important, reason is that Republicans are significantly souring on both Romney and Gingrich. Romney’s favorability is barely above water at 44/43, representing a 23 point net decline from our December national poll when he was +24 (55/31). Gingrich has fallen even further. A 44% plurality of GOP voters now hold a negative opinion of him to only 42% with a positive one. That’s a 34 point drop from 2 months ago when he was at +32 (60/28).
Santorum is now completely dominating with several key segments of the electorate, especially the most right leaning parts of the party. With those describing themselves as ‘very conservative,’ he’s now winning a majority of voters at 53% to 20% for Gingrich and 15% for Romney. Santorum gets a majority with Tea Party voters as well at 51% to 24% for Gingrich and 12% for Romney. And with Evangelicals he falls just short of a majority with 45% to 21% for Gingrich and 18% for Romney.
It used to be that Gingrich was leading with all these groups and Romney was staying competitive enough with them to hold the overall lead. No more- a consensus conservative candidate finally seems to be emerging and it’s Santorum.
Shrinking Senate Hopes – for 2012 – Three other Democratic seats are vulnerable. No state has trended Republican in recent years more than Missouri. John McCain narrowly beat Obama in Missouri in 2008. Roy Blunt won the open Senate seat there in 2010 by 14 percentage points. So it’s no surprise that Democratic senator Claire McCaskill is in deep trouble this year. The Republican Senate primary is August 7.
Wisconsin is more Democratic, but it offers Republicans a great opportunity. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, the Democratic candidate, is gay, liberal, and a zealous campaigner. Either of the GOP candidates, former governor Tommy Thompson or ex-House member Mark Neumann, could beat her. When Neumann gave up his House seat in 1998 to run (unsuccessfully) for the Senate, by the way, he was replaced by Paul Ryan.
In Hawaii, Democrat Dan Akaka is stepping down after three terms, and there’s only one Republican with a realistic chance of winning his seat, former governor Linda Lingle. Fortunately for Republicans, Lingle is running. She didn’t have to buck a Democratic tide in a presidential year when she won the governorship in 2002 and 2006. With Obama, a native of Hawaii, leading the ticket, she’ll have to overcome a strong partisan headwind.
Where does this leave us? Duffy projects a Republican gain of three to six seats. The Rothenberg Report says two to five. A year ago, I’d have said four to seven. Today, three to six seems about right, with emphasis on the three. But my rule of politics is that the future is never a straight line projection of the present. In November, Republican prospects may look better—or worse.
The Afghanistan Report the Pentagon Doesn’t Want You to Read – Earlier this week, the New York Times’ Scott Shane published a bombshell piece about Lt. Colonel Daniel Davis, a 17-year Army veteran recently returned from a second tour in Afghanistan. According to the Times, the 48-year-old Davis had written an 84-page unclassified report, as well as a classified report, offering his assessment of the decade-long war. That assessment is essentially that the war has been a disaster and the military’s top brass has not leveled with the American public about just how badly it’s been going. “How many more men must die in support of a mission that is not succeeding?” Davis boldly asks in an article summarizing his views in The Armed Forces Journal.
Davis last month submitted the unclassified report –titled “Dereliction of Duty II: Senior Military Leader’s Loss of Integrity Wounds Afghan War Effort” – for an internal Army review. Such a report could then be released to the public. However, according to U.S. military officials familiar with the situation, the Pentagon is refusing to do so. Rolling Stone has now obtained a full copy of the 84-page unclassified version, which has been making the rounds within the U.S. government, including the White House. We’ve decided to publish it in full; it’s well worth reading for yourself. It is, in my estimation, one of the most significant documents published by an active-duty officer in the past ten years.
Teachers union defends endorsement of Falk – The state’s largest public teachers union is standing behind its endorsement of Kathleen Falk for governor despite controversy among Democrats and some union members.
Some complained the endorsement came too early: A recall election hasn’t been ordered, and many expect other prominent candidates to join the race. Others felt the unions shouldn’t play kingmaker before a primary or give the impression that the election is about only collective bargaining rights.
Mary Bell, Wisconsin Education Association Council president, said she understood the passionate feelings but said the recommendation was made with input from union leaders throughout the state.
“It’s not surprising,” she said. “Our members have a lot invested in what’s happening.”
Though acknowledging other candidates may enter the race, Bell said she is confident the former Dane County executive is the best choice to beat Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
Bell said the short and uncertain time frame of a recall made it necessary to put out a recommendation early.
Mike Tate, chairman of the state Democratic Party, said the party is proud to work closely with organized labor – which he called “the backbone” of the party – though he said the election is about much more.
“A million Wisconsinites signed a recall petition; each one has their own reason,” he said. “There’s a number of reasons to recall Scott Walker.”
He shrugged off the significance of the WEAC decision.
“Unions make endorsements,” Tate said Thursday. “That’s what they do.”
Kathleen Falk, the candidate from WEAC, says she wants to “undo the harm” that Governor Walker has done and is apparently willing to devastate Wisconsin in order to advance her agenda.
Want to see what “undoing the harm” would look like?
A year ago Pat Quinn, the ultra-liberal Governor of Illinois, faced many of the same challenges that Scott Walker faced. Instead of standing up to public employee unions and reining in spending, Quinn pushed for massive tax increases and business as usual.
So how did that work out?
In contrast to Governor Walker (who has an approval rating over 50%), Quinn has an approval rating of 30%! That’s right! 30%.
Let’s be real clear. Kathleen Falk is a slightly more opportunistic version of Pat Quinn with a Madison mailing address. The policies of Quinn have decimated Illinois. There’s absolutely no reason to think that they’d work any better in Wisconsin under Kathleen Falk.
Want to see what Wisconsin would look like one year after Kathleen Falk became Governor? Just look at Illinois today.
It’s not a pretty sight.
Nearly 1 in 20 US adults over 50 have fake knees – Nearly 1 in 20 Americans older than 50 have artificial knees, or more than 4 million people, according to the first national estimate showing how common these replacement joints have become in an aging population.
Doctors know the number of knee replacement operations has surged in the past decade, especially in baby boomers. But until now, there was no good fix on the total number of people living with them.
The estimate is important because it shows that a big segment of the population might need future knee-related care, said Dr. Daniel Berry, president of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and chairman of orthopedic surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He was not involved in the research.
These are my links for December 1st through December 6th:
Senate Republican filibuster blocks Obama D.C. Circuit nominee Caitlin Halligan – Tuesday’s vote is notable in that it marks the second time that Senate Republicans have blocked an Obama judicial nominee. In May, Republicans filibustered Obama’s nomination of Goodwin Liu to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit following a protracted battle over what GOP senators cited as the University of California at Berkeley law professor’s liberal views.
Six years ago, a bipartisan “Gang of 14” senators negotiated an agreement aimed at preventing filibusters of judicial nominees except under what they termed “extraordinary circumstances.” On Tuesday, as in May’s vote on Liu, the four Republican members of that group who remain in the Senate – Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Susan Collins (Maine) and Olympia Snowe (Maine) – voted “no,” a sign that Republicans as well as Democrats have now come to view filibusters of judicial nominations as fair game.
After saying the radio segment would not be a “gotcha interview,” Beck aggressively questioned the former House speaker over issues including climate change and health care reform.
Gingrich somewhat famously recorded a public service announcement in 2008 with then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about steps to combat climate change, something Beck in the interview called “the dumbest moment.” In response, Gingrich toed the line on the issue, saying he believed “in the environment in general,” and that evidence exists on both sides of the climate change argument.
“I never believed in Al Gore’s fantasies,” Gingrich said, before adding that he worked against cap and trade legislation as a member of Congress.
Criticism of his long record in public office has increased with his recent rise in polling of Republican voters, something Beck perpetuated during his questioning over Gingrich’s stance on health care, and more specifically the changes to Medicare he would or would not support.
Gingrich said he promotes a practical approach to changing the program, instead of completely overhauling or dismantling it, as some, including House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan and Beck have suggested.
“I think what you want to have is a system where people voluntarily migrate to better outcomes, better solutions, better options, not one where you suddenly impose upon,” Gingrich said. “I’m against ‘ObamaCare,’ which is imposing radical change and I would be against a conservative imposing radical change.”
Heartbreak Awaits Republicans Who Love Gingrich – Before Republicans put Newt Gingrich at the top of their party, they should consider what happened the last time he led it.
In the mid-1990s, Gingrich was the de facto head of the Republican Party. He helped lead it to victory in the congressional elections of 1994, which brought about real accomplishments such as welfare reform. But once he attained power, both his popularity and that of his party started to plummet. In the aftermath of his leadership, a Republican was able to take the presidency only by pointedly distancing himself from Gingrich.
Conservatives who dislike George W. Bush’s compassionate conservatism have Gingrich to thank for it. After Gingrich lost the budget battles with President Bill Clinton, it took 15 years for any politician to take up the cause of limited-government conservatism that he had discredited.
Although Gingrich isn’t solely responsible for the Republican policy defeats of those years, his erratic behavior, lack of discipline and self-absorption had a lot to do with them. He explained that one reason the federal government shut down in 1995 was that he was angry that Clinton had snubbed him during an international flight. The Clinton White House then released pictures of the two men gabbing on the plane. Later negotiations didn’t go well, with Gingrich saying, “I melt when I’m around him.”
Poll Shows Age Gap in G.O.P. on Immigration – With immigration now a front-burner issue in the Republican presidential contest, a new poll shows a substantial age gap among Republican voters over whether there should be a path to citizenship for immigrants who are in the country illegally.
A majority – 57 percent — of Republicans who are 65 and older say that tighter border security and tough law enforcement should be the only focus of immigration policy, with no path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, according to a poll released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, a nonpartisan group in Washington. Only about one-quarter of this group, or 24 percent, favor combining strict enforcement with a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
Among Republicans who are younger than 30, the poll found, 42 percent favor a combined approach of tough enforcement against illegal immigration with a path to citizenship, while 30 percent wanted only enforcement. Among these younger Republicans, another 26 percent said that opening a path to citizenship should be the immigration priority, with or without tougher enforcement.
The poll showed other differences. Among Republican voters who agreed with the Tea Party, 52 percent favored a policy based only on tougher enforcement. Among Republicans who disagreed with the Tea Party or had no opinion, 36 percent wanted only enforcement, while 44 percent favored policies pairing enforcement with a path to citizenship.
It doesn’t help to have a frugal socialist. That’s really what we’re talking about is managing socialism and trying to be a frugal socialist.
Beck, recognizing that a headline had just been made sought to clarify, asking Bachmann “Did you just say that Newt Gingrich is a socialist?” Bachmann responded:
What I’m saying is that – I’m saying a frugal socialist, yes! Because you’re looking at proposals and programs that are in effect redistribution of wealth and socialism-based, and are we going to have real change in the country or are we going to have frugal socialists?
F. Scott Fitzgerald said it and promptly died before he could have a second act — but he would have had one, because that’s what tends to happen to famous and accomplished people in the United States. It’s happening to Newt Gingrich right now.
For those of us who live and breathe politics and make our livings in and around it, the words “Newt Gingrich” mean something entirely different than they do to the Republican primary voters who are now shifting over to him in droves.
Astronauts in a weightless environment usually lose 5 to 7 percent of their bone density in six months even while exercising two hours a day. In the study conducted by researchers of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Tokushima University and others, five astronauts who stayed in space for up to 163 days exercised daily and took bisphosphonates used to treat osteoporosis once a week during their stay on the space station. As a result, researchers found almost no bone-density loss in the astronauts.
Romney and Gingrich, from bad to worse – Republicans are more conservative than at any time since their 1980 dismay about another floundering president. They are more ideologically homogenous than ever in 156 years of competing for the presidency. They anticipated choosing between Mitt Romney, a conservative of convenience, and a conviction politician to his right. The choice, however, could be between Romney and the least conservative candidate, Newt Gingrich.
Romney’s main objection to contemporary Washington seems to be that he is not administering it. God has 10 commandments, Woodrow Wilson had 14 points, Heinz had 57 varieties, but Romney’s economic platform has 59 planks — 56 more than necessary if you have low taxes, free trade and fewer regulatory burdens. Still, his conservatism-as-managerialism would be a marked improvement upon today’s bewildered liberalism.
Said Barbour: “I don’t think it’s clear. I think people make the mistake of writing off Rick Perry and believe he can’t come back. He’s got a mountain to get over, but I don’t think it’s impossible. Both Newt and Romney have a lot of support, but I don’t think it’s a two-man race. I think Perry could get back in it with Gingrich and Romney. I can’t look you in the eye and say nobody else can come up. You’ve got to learn your lesson this year not to say that about anybody.”
He added: “I haven’t decided who is the best nominee for the party. I can see how either one of them could be the best nominee. But I think it is premature to write off Perry. He is a very successful governor. This is very unpredictable. I’ve never seen a nomination on our side like this.”
Mitt Romney looks to outlast and outwork Gingrich to GOP nomination – The Romney campaign believes organization will be particularly critical because of changes in the nominating process. In the past, the winner of a state — or, in some cases, the top vote-getter in each congressional district — won all the delegates. But in 2012, most of the 30 states that hold contests before April 1 will award delegates proportionally. The ones that will come after will still be winner-takes-all.
That means a candidate could lose a number of states but still remain competitive in the race to gain the majority of the 2,427 delegates at stake.
As a reminder to take the long view, Romney’s political director, Rich Beeson, walks around headquarters carrying a matrix in his pocket charting which states award delegates proportionally and which are winner-takes-all.
“We’re not Kentucky Fried Chicken,” Beeson said. “We don’t have the luxury to just do one thing and do it right.”
Unauthorized Immigrants: Length of Residency, Patterns of Parenthood – Nearly two-thirds of the 10.2 million unauthorized adult immigrants in the United States have lived in this country for at least 10 years and nearly half are parents of minor children, according to new estimates by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.
These estimates are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s March 2010 Current Population Survey, augmented with the Center’s analysis of the demographic characteristics of the unauthorized immigrant population using a “residual estimation methodology”1 that the Center has employed for many years.
– YouTube – I like this ad from Rick Perry Can Perry make a come back, if Newt heads downward in the polls?