These are my links for February 29th through March 1st:
National GOP: Romney 40%, Santorum 24%, Gingrich 16%, Paul 12% – Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, coming off his primary wins in Arizona and Michigan, has jumped to a 16-point lead over Rick Santorum in the battle for the Republican presidential nomination. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Republican Primary Voters shows Romney with 40% support to 24% for the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania. This is Romney’s biggest lead to date and the highest level of support any GOP candidate has earned in regular surveying of the race. Two weeks ago, it was Santorum 39%, Romney 27%.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich earns 16% support, closely followed by Texas Congressman Ron Paul at 12%. Two percent (2%) prefer some other candidate, and six percent (6%) are undecided. The new findings mark virtually no change in national support for Gingrich and Paul.
Bob Kerrey running for Senate in Nebraska – Climbing down from the fence, Democrat Bob Kerrey said Wednesday that he will run for his old Senate seat from Nebraska, soon to be vacated by retiring Sen. Ben Nelson and a major target for Republicans who hope to win control of the chamber in November.
The decision comes on the heels of Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe’s surprise announcement Tuesday to not seek re-election in Maine. And the twin events breathe new life into Democratic hopes of holding onto the Senate.
Santorum Leads Big in Tennessee – A new Middle Tennessee State University poll shows Rick Santorum way ahead in next week’s Tennessee GOP primary with 40%, followed by Mitt Romney at 19%, Newt Gingrich at 13% and Ron Paul at 11%.
Odds of a Brokered Convention Are Increasing – We’re finally close enough to Super Tuesday to get a sense of how the overall delegate count might work out in the GOP primary. The end result: Assuming that none of the four candidates drops out of the race, it looks increasingly as if no one will be able to claim a majority of the delegates. The candidate with the best chance is Mitt Romney, but he probably wouldn’t be able to wrap up the nomination until May or even June. The other candidates will probably have to hope for a brokered convention.
US Stocks: Stocks Add to Losses Amid Bernanke Speech – Bernanke said the job market is still “far from normal” and may require the Fed to launch more stimulus measures, in his semi-annual monetary policy report to Congress. (CNBC.com is streaming this event live.)
Bernanke also added rising gasoline prices will likely push up inflation temporarily, while reducing consumers’ purchasing power.
Chu: DOE working to wean U.S. off oil, not lower prices – The Energy Department isn’t working to lower gasoline prices directly, Secretary Steven Chu said Tuesday after a Republican lawmaker scolded him for his now-infamous 2008 comment that gas prices in the U.S. should be as high as in Europe.
Instead, DOE is working to promote alternatives such as biofuels and electric vehicles, Chu told House appropriators during a hearing on DOE’s budget.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy accused House Leader Linda Upmeyer of failing to properly inform legislators about planned debate today on the bills. The short notice hindered Democrats from offering amendments to improve the bills, McCarthy said.
But Upmeyer, R-Garner, shot back this morning that Democrats did have adequate warning, and suggested their flight from the Capitol was an attempt to make a political scene.
“Iowans didn’t send us down here just to do easy stuff,” she said. “The Second Amendment is a question that many Iowans would like placed before them. I don’t know why they’re afraid to have a debate on a subject just because they don’t like the subject. That seems ludicrous to me.”
One bill would alter the state constitution to specifically include gun rights. Another would rewrite the law on “reasonable force” so that a person may use force — including deadly force — against someone who they believe threatens to kill or cause serious injury or who is committing a violent felony.
In separate communications Feb. 23, ADA officials urged the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to table or vote against S. 1461, and the Association joined dental, other health, religious and social organizations expressing “our strong opposition” to the bill in a letter to the full Senate.
The 2009 ADA-supported Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act authorizes FDA regulation of the manufacture, marketing and distribution of tobacco products. The proposed S. 1461, the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2012, would prohibit the FDA from promulgating any regulations involving certain types of cigars.
“There is a strong association between cigar smoking and mortality from oral (mouth) and pharyngeal (throat) cancers,” the Association told the HELP Committee bipartisan leadership in a letter signed by Dr. William R. Calnon, president, and Dr. Kathleen T. O’Loughlin, executive director. “About 8 out of 10 people with mouth and throat cancers use tobacco. Smokers are many times more likely than non-smokers to develop these cancers and the risk increases with the amount smoked and the duration of the habit. On average, 40 percent of those with the disease will not survive more than five years after being diagnosed.
“Taxpayer dollars would be better spent discouraging the use of cancer-causing products, including traditional large and premium cigars,” the Association said. “It is vital that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration be allowed to retain its strong, effective authority to regulate these products.”
According to PPP, Walker’s two potential contenders, Tom Barrett and Kathleen Falk, hold narrow leads over the unpopular governor. The poll shows Barrett with a 49-46 advantage, while Falk has a slight 48-47 edge over Walker.
The poll also found that former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) would have a more commanding lead over Walker than either Barrett or Falk. PPP found that Feingold would hold a 52-45 advantage over the governor. Feingold, however, has said he will not run in the recall election.
Poll: Wisconsin’s Walker to survive union recall drive – So much for that recall effort. According to a new Rasmussen poll of likely Wisconsin voters, Gov. Scott Walker should survive an effort to throw out his 2010 election, a campaign driven by pro-union activists angered that he limited collective bargaining rights for public employees in a budget-cutting move.
It’s a huge and positive switch for Scott’s fortunes. Opponents made headlines when they easily collected 1 million signatures on a recall petition. Walker this week said he would not challenge the signatures-including names like “Donald Duck”-because there isn’t enough time before the May recall election.
Rasmussen’s poll is the latest done on the election and finds that 54 percent of likely Wisconsin voters at least somewhat approve of the governor’s job, while 46 percent somewhat disapprove. He does good with independents, as 58 percent approve of his performance. The telephone poll of 500 likely voters conducted Monday shows a pro-Walker move, coming days after a Public Policy Polling survey conducted February 22-26 that found the state divided 49 percent-49 percent on the recall.
The Bain Capital Bonfire – About the best that can be said about the Republican attacks on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital is that President Obama is going to do the same thing eventually, so GOP primary voters might as well know what’s coming. Yet that hardly absolves Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and others for their crude and damaging caricatures of modern business and capitalism.
Bain’s business model is little more than “rich people figuring out clever legal ways to loot a company,” says Mr. Gingrich, whose previous insights into free enterprise include years of defending the taxpayer-fed business of corn ethanol.
A super PAC supporting the former House Speaker plans to spend $3.4 million in TV ads in South Carolina portraying Mr. Romney as Gordon Gekko without the social conscience. The financing for these ads will come from a billionaire who made his money in the casino business, which Mr. Gingrich apparently considers morally superior to investing in companies in the hope of making a profit.
Mr. Perry, who has no problem using taxpayer financing to back his political allies in Texas, chimes in that “I have no doubt that Mitt Romney was worried about pink slips, whether he was going to have enough of them to hand out. Because his company Bain Capital, with all the jobs that they killed, I’m sure he was worried he’d run out of pink slips.”
The study — by Steven J. Davis of the University of Chicago; John C. Haltiwanger of the University of Maryland; Josh Lerner of Harvard, and Ron S. Jarmin and Javier Miranda of the Census Bureau — looked at about 3,200 buyouts conducted between 1980 and 2005.
It found that companies bought by private equity firms let go a larger proportion of workers than similar firms, shrinking their work forces about 6 percent more over a five-year window. But companies bought by private equity firms also tend to open more new branches, offices and factories and hire more new staff members, partly offsetting the job losses.
Some economists also argue that private equity takeovers make good economic sense in the long term, even if they result in more layoffs in the short term, by making companies more efficient.
Gingrich’s Own Close Tie to Buyout Industry – Newt Gingrich has ramped up his attacks on Mitt Romney as a heartless leveraged buyout executive for his years at Bain Capital, asking reporters in Manchester on Monday, “Is capitalism really about the ability of a handful of rich people to manipulate the lives of thousands of other people and walk off with the money? Or is that, somehow, a little bit of a flawed system?”
But Mr. Gingrich was himself on an advisory board for a major investment firm that had a similar business model, Forstmann Little, a pioneering private equity firm co-founded in 1978 by Theodore J. Forstmann that was, along with Mr. Romney’s Bain Capital and Henry R. Kravis’s Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts, among the leading private equity firms during the 1980s and 1990s.
Forstmann Little earned billions of dollars in profits from its investments in companies including General Instrument and Gulfstream Aerospace. But the firm shut down most of its operations a decade ago after suffering losses from ill-timed bets on high-flying telecommunications companies at the height of that industry’s bubble.
Mr. Gingrich’s involvement with the firm could complicate his attacks on Mr. Romney.
Still, to be fair, Mr. Forstman bristled at some of the more aggressive tactics of his rivals, and once described them as “barbarians at the gate.” That phrase was used as the title of a bestselling book that detailed Mr. Forstmann’s buyout battle with Mr. Kravis for RJR Nabisco, a contest K.K.R. eventually won.
Unemployment Rate Drop Is for Real – now 8.5% – The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 8.5% in December, while a broader measure dropped even further to 15.2% from 15.6% the prior month, both at their lowest levels since February 2009.
While the unemployment rate has been falling in part due to people leaving the labor force, a large portion of this month’s number appears to come from people finding jobs.
The unemployment rate is calculated based on people who are without jobs, who are available to work and who have actively sought work in the prior four weeks. The “actively looking for work” definition is fairly broad, including people who contacted an employer, employment agency, job center or friends; sent out resumes or filled out applications; or answered or placed ads, among other things. The rate is calculated by dividing that number by the total number of people in the labor force.
In December, the household survey showed the number of people employed rose by 176,000, as the population increased by 143,000 over the month. So even though the labor force — the number of people working or looking for work — fell by 50,000, job growth is outpacing the increase in the population.
Brown Seeks 7% California Spending Boost – Governor Jerry Brown proposed $92.6 billion in spending for the year starting in July, an increase of about 7 percent, which will count on voters approving $7 billion of higher taxes in November.
The spending plan foresees a deficit of $9.2 billion through the next 18 months. Almost half of that is in the current fiscal year, he said. He called for $4.2 billion in cuts, mostly to welfare and programs for the poor. If the tax increase isn’t passed, Brown’s plan would cut another $4.8 billion in support for public schools and community colleges.
California is Standard & Poor’s lowest-rated state, at A-, six levels below AAA. Moody’s Investment Service grades it A1, four steps below the top rating, tied with Illinois (STOIL1) for the worst credit rating among states.
This quiet reality, which is spreading nationwide, is claiming a wide range of casualties, including family physicians, cardiologists and oncologists.
Industry watchers say the trend is worrisome. Half of all doctors in the nation operate a private practice. So if a cash crunch forces the death of an independent practice, it robs a community of a vital health care resource.
“A lot of independent practices are starting to see serious financial issues,” said Marc Lion, CEO of Lion & Company CPAs, LLC, which advises independent doctor practices about their finances.
Doctors list shrinking insurance reimbursements, changing regulations, rising business and drug costs among the factors preventing them from keeping their practices afloat. But some experts counter that doctors’ lack of business acumen is also to blame.
As bans on smoking sweep the USA, an increasing number of employers — primarily hospitals — are also imposing bans on smokers. They won’t hire applicants whose urine tests positive for nicotine use, whether cigarettes, smokeless tobacco or even patches.
Such tobacco-free hiring policies, designed to promote health and reduce insurance premiums, took effect this month at the Baylor Health Care System in Texas and will apply at the Hollywood Casino in Toledo, Ohio, when it opens this year.
New Pentagon strategy stresses Asia, cyber, drones – President Barack Obama unveiled a defense strategy on Thursday that would expand the U.S. military presence in Asia but shrink the overall size of the force as the Pentagon seeks to reduce spending by nearly half a trillion dollars after a decade of war.
The strategy, if carried out, would significantly reshape the world’s largest military from the one that executed President George W. Bush’s “war on terrorism” in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Cyberwarfare and unmanned drones would continue to grow in priority, as would countering attempts by China and Iran to block U.S. power projection capabilities in areas like the South China Sea and the Strait of Hormuz.
But the size of the U.S. Army and Marines Corps would shrink. So too might the U.S. nuclear arsenal and the U.S. military footprint in Europe.
Obama: the US can no longer fight the world’s battles – The mighty American military machine that has for so long secured the country’s status as the world’s only superpower will have to be drastically reduced, Barack Obama warned yesterday as he set out a radical but more modest new set of priorities for the Pentagon over the next decade.
After the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that defined the first decade of the 21st century, Mr Obama’s blueprint for the military’s future acknowledged that America will no longer have the resources to conduct two such major operations simultaneously.
Instead, the US military will lose up to half a million troops and will focus on countering terrorism and meeting the new challenges of an emergent Asia dominated by China. America, the President said, was “turning the page on a decade of war” and now faced “a moment of transition”. The country’s armed forces would in future be leaner but, Mr Obama pointedly warned both friends and foes, sufficient to preserve US military superiority over any rival – “agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats”.
Mitt Romney’s the nominee: The Republican primary race is over. – Is there anyone not annoyed by Mitt Romney’s narrow win in the Iowa caucus? Conservatives are disappointed because they recognize that the former Massachusetts governor, who used to be pro-choice and was for Obamacare before it was called that, is only pretending to be one of them. Seventy-five percent of Iowa’s Republican voters wanted someone further to the right. But because their votes were divided among too many weak and weird candidates, the only moderate running in their state came out on top.
Liberals are bummed because Romney is the strongest potential challenger to President Obama. This shows up clearly in head-to-head polls, which put Romney tied with or slightly ahead of Obama, while other Republican contenders trail by 10 points or more. It was hard for Obama campaign officials to suppress their glee last month when Newt Gingrich, the only even remotely plausible alternative to Romney, briefly ran at the head of the pack. But even they knew this was a momentary aberration. Short of Republicans committing collective suicide by picking someone else, Democrats would like to see Romney win the nomination after a protracted, costly struggle that would deplete his financial resources, sully his image, and drag him further to the right. Today, that scenario looks less likely.
Richard Cordray & the Use and Abuse of Executive Power – Some think me a zealous advocate of executive power, and often I am when it comes to national security issues. But I think President Obama has exceeded his powers by making a recess appointment for Richard Cordray (whom I respect and have no problems with as a nominee) to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Any private party can challenge this nomination by refusing to obey any regulation issued by the agency as the act of an unconstitutional officer. As a result, this may be the first time that Richard Epstein and I get to represent someone in court together!
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, the Texas governor said he had made a poor choice of words during the Sept. 22 presidential debate, but he stood by his view that the decision in his state to extend tuition breaks was the right one.
“I was probably a bit over-passionate by using that word and it was inappropriate,” Perry admitted. “In Texas in 2001 we had 181 members of the legislature – only four voted against this piece of legislation – because it wasn’t about immigration it was about education.”
During the wide-ranging interview, Perry:
• Opposed the idea of a fence stretching the entire length of the Mexican border;
• Repeated his claim that social security is “a Ponzi scheme,” saying it’s so bad it “would make Bernie Madoff blush;”
• Attacked challenger Mitt Romney as “a flip-flopper;’
• Accused President Barack Obama of sending government agencies to “go to war” against business, and;
• Said most voters want their president to be “a person of faith.”
As you may recall, the 47-year-old attacked Sarah Palin’s oldest daughter last week, calling her mother “evil” and a “whore,” among other unbelievably offensive insults. You can watch the original battle unfold here:
You would think from the Ventura County Star that the Ventura County Republican Party was accepting money from drug lords or crack dealers.
The last time Flap checked smoking was NOTillegal and the manufacture of cigars, cigarettes and other tobacco products was NOT illegal. Moreover, there are many Americans employed by the tobacco industry who pay their taxes, vote and enjoy their pursuit of happiness like everyone else.
Also, the state of California and the federal government gladly tax the purchase of these products.
What is REALLY the Flap?
The political agenda of the Ventura County Star, Timm Herdt and Brian Dennert is to paint Ventura County Republicans as immoral,unhealthy and irresponsible pols who take the money to the detriment of Ventura County citizens and voters. Flap invites the readers to look at Dennertâ€™s and Herdtâ€™s blogs and see if they can refute Flapâ€™s opinion of their BIASED agenda.
Does Flap think smoking is unhealthy? You bet. But, I do not believe it is criminal to smoke in a responsible way and according to California law. Nor is it a campaign issue if members of the California legislature lawfully accept campaign money from companies that make tobacco products.
A question back to Timm Herdt: If Tony Stricklandâ€™s opponent Democrat Hanna-Beth Jackson accepts ANY campaign contributions from the Democrat Party, California State employee groups and/or Union PACS who have received money from the tobacco industry will she return the money?
Flap thinks it is doubtful because that â€œdistastefulâ€ tobacco cash is heavily laundered in Jacksonâ€™s campaign reports. Check them out here.
Now, readers of the Ventura county Star have written exposing the BIAS of the newspaper and HYPOCRISY of the Hanna-Beth Jackson campaign.
Samantah Harrison, Moorpark:
…How completely predictable that in an article that points out that both parties accept contributions from Altria, we get a headline singling out Tony Strickland and the GOP. The fact that Democrats accept money from the same source is buried in the article and almost excused. Not only that, but some of the contributions made directly to Hannah-Beth Jackson’s campaign were from Democratic candidates who received money from Altria. How hypocritical of her to criticize Strickland for accepting help when she has done the same from indirect sources…
Josh Guthrie, Ventura
…What a stellar example of The Star’s political bias! In an article in which Timm Herdt freely admits both parties and their candidates have received money from Altria, both the headline and subhead mention only the GOP and Tony Strickland. The readers of this paper need to realize that between now and November, The Star’s mission will be to help get Hannah-Beth Jackson elected while pretending to be unbiased…
Mark J. Masterson, Ventura
…If Bill Gallaher, chairman of the county Democratic Central Committee, is correct that we’re judged by who our friends are, then perhaps people should be aware that most of Hannah-Beth Jackson’s campaign contributions have come from extreme labor unions, trial lawyers and controversial organizations like Planned Parenthood.
I also haven’t seen her ask the Democratic Party to return contributions from the same source she criticizes the Ventura County Republican Party for…
Tressa Golden, Ventura
…It didn’t take me long to discover that some of Hannah-Beth Jackson’s campaign contributors were recipients of funding from Altria.
These contributors are either current or past Democratic candidates for office in California.
To be consistent with the statements she made in this article, she should return the money she received from these sources.
Tressa has a good question and Flap repeats his question to Timm Herdt of the Ventura County Star:
If Tony Stricklandâ€™s opponent Democrat Hanna-Beth Jackson accepts ANY campaign contributions from the Democrat Party, California State employee groups and/or Union PACS who have received money from the tobacco industry will she return the money?
The people can be fooled some of the time but the repeated BIAS of the Ventura County Star newspaper is OVER THE TOP.
Over to Herdt, Dennert and the Jackson campaign to explain themselves.