Verona, PA - The Rick Santorum for President campaign has issued the following statement on the health of Isabella Santorum.
Hogan Gidley, National Communications Director, said: “Rick and his wife Karen have taken their daughter Bella to the hospital. The family requests prayers and privacy as Bella works her way to recovery.”
This morning, despite the stock market being closed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the jobs report for March.
The average in surveys of economists was for a gain of about 209,000 non-farm jobs, but the actual report came in at 120,000 jobs (seasonally adjusted data.)
There were job gains in many sectors, including manufacturing, finance, restaurants, and health care, with the notable exception of retail which lost more than 30,000 jobs in the month.
While the unemployment rate dropped to 8.2 percent, it was primarily because people dropped out of the work force (we typically need over 125,000 jobs in a month just to keep up with population growth.) The participation rate fell by 0.1 percent.
In other words, the unemployment rate fell only because the labor force fell by as much (164,000) as the population grew (169,000).
The total number of employed people fell and the number of people not in the labor force spiked up.
On the other hand, the total number of unemployed fell in the month, and the so-called U-6 unemployment rate which measures unemployed and underemployed fell dramatically — for which my best guess as to an explanation is that people went from looking for work to not looking for work. If someone is not looking for work, they do not count as unemployed.
Furthermore, college graduates who have not been able to find their first job also do not count as unemployed in this data.
This jobs report is so far below estimates that I would not be surprised to see it revised upwards later. In the meantime, the stock market will be looking at some rough sledding when it opens on Monday.
The Obama Administration will trumpet the 0.1 percent downtick in the unemployment rate while Republicans will talk about the low number of actual jobs created, and the high actual number of unemployed people in the US.
The real story remains that this is the worst recovery since the Great Depression. Given that recoveries usually roughly mirror the recession that preceded them; this is true outside the US as well as in our history.
President Obama’s policies are a wet blanket smothering entrepreneurialism in this country. James Pethokoukis addresses this in a worth-reading article for the NY Post, and Ed Lazear’s article for the Wall Street Journal explains the Obama non-recovery quite well.
For economists to be looking for a GDP growth rate under 3 percent for 2012 is a disaster at this point in what should be a strong recovery following a serious recession. Whether it is Obamacare, tax uncertainty, or new EPA regulations, everything this administration does is anti-growth and anti-business.
What is remarkable is not that our economic statistics remain so weak at this point during the business cycle but that they are not weaker. For this we have to thank the American entrepreneurial spirit which is stronger even than the most anti-free market administration this nation has seen since FDR, or perhaps ever.
Justice Thomas chides judges for asking too many questions (AP)
DNC Jewish liaison in trouble for Facebook post (Buzzfeed)
TIME asks Gov. Nikki Haley if she tips Sikh taxi drivers more (RCP)
The Gingrich group files for bankruptcy (MSNBC)
78 year old man in Toledo beaten in memory of Trayvon (Toledo Blade)
9 signs your campaign dreams are over (ABC)
Sarah Palin celebrates Today show ratings (Daily News)
Fairfax County teacher tells students “Republicans are stupid” (Daily Caller)
Key Democratic donors cool to Obama’s Super PAC (Reuters)
Payoff for efficient cars takes years (NY Times)
AZ lawmakers receive knitted uterus (AP)
Coke withdraws support for ALEC (Reuters)
Gov. Jerry Brown vs. the left (City Journal)
Democrats give special interests a role at the convention (LA Times)
Federal judge approves $25 billion mortage pact (Reuters)
Mitt Romney using ethics exception to withhold information about Bain (WaPo)
Rick Santorum favors female members of Augusta golf club (CNN)
Panetta’s trip to California cost taxpayers $860,000 (Military Times)
On Thursday night, Obama raised $1.5 million in 3 hours (The Hill)
100 years of the family budget (The Atlantic)
VIDEO: GSA employee mocks lavish spending by agency
It was long day in Cleveland. But isn’t it always a long day in Cleveland?
But it was indeed a long day at Progressive Field as the Cleveland Indians and the Toronto Blue Jays played the longest Opening Day game in MLB history lasting 16 innings before Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia hit a three run homerun to give the Jays a 7-4 win. The Tribe had been leading 4-2 in the 9th inning when Edwin Encarnacion tied the game with a two run double wasting eight strong innings for Indians starter Justin Masterson. Everybody got their money’s worth except for Indians fans. Then again by the end of the game, Progressive Field looked as empty as old Municipal Stadium by Lake Erie.
Up the road in Detroit, I saw parts of the Red Sox-Tigers game on TV while at work. Justin Verlander was overpowering the Sox with his fastball. The scary thing was that his curveball was even better. Verlander’s hook broke sharper than Bert Blyleven. He gave up only two hits and had a 2-0 lead going into the 9th. I wondered if Tigers manager Jim Leyland was going to let Verlander go for the complete game or bring in Jose Valverde for the save. Leyland opted to bring in Valverde. In 2011, Valverde went 49 for 49 in save opportunities. Well, the Sox were grateful to see anyone other than Verlander on the mound and ended up tying the game thus ending Valverde’s save streak on day one. It was his first blown save since September 2, 2010. However, Valverde got the win on a Austin Jackson single in the bottom of the ninth.
And the season has only just begun.
I highly recommend Shelby Steele’s piece in The Wall Street Journal concerning Trayvon Martin or more precisely the naked opportunism of so-called civil rights leaders and the liberal media:
In fact Trayvon’s sad fate clearly sent a quiver of preverse happiness all across America’s civil rights establishment, and throughout the mainstream media as well. His death was vindication of the “poetic truth” that these establishments live by. Poetic truth is like poetic license where one breaks grammatical rules for effect. Better to break the rule than lose the effect. Poetic truth lies just a little; it bends the actual truth in order to highlight what it believes is a larger and more important truth.
The civil rights community and the liberal media live by the poetic truth that America is still a reflexively racist society, and that this remains the great barrier to black equality. But this “truth” has a lot of lie in it. America has greatly evolved since the 1960s. There are no longer any respectable advocates of racial segregation. And blacks today are nine times more likely to be killed by other blacks than by whites.
If Trayvon Martin was a victim of white racism (hard to conceive since the shooter is apparently Hispanic), his murder would be an anomaly, not commonplace. It would be a bizarre exception to the way so many young black males are murdered today. If there must be a generalization in all this - a call “to turn the moment into a movement” - it would be to have a movement against blacks who kill other blacks. The absurdity of Messrs. Jackson and Sharpton is that they want to make a movement out of an anomaly. Black teenagers today are afraid of other black teenagers, not whites.
I would say the civil rights establishment and the liberal media are feeling more than a quiver of happiness from Trayvon Martin’s death. They are deriving pleasure from it and are working hand in hand to stir up incitement. The result of which will be rioting if George Zimmerman is a) not charged b) charged but acquitted or c) charged, convicted but receives what is considered to be an inadequate sentence. For many people, nothing short of Zimmerman’s murder would be satisfactory. Unless the Al Sharptons of the world are at long last discredited, nothing good can come of this whole sorry episode.
In his column today, Bob Tyrrell expresses hope that Mitt Romney won’t become one of those presidential hopefuls who jog to gain attention. I don’t think we’ll need to worry about that, not if we keep in mind this anecdote from Jonathan Cohn’s lengthy profile of Romney, which ran in the July 2, 2007 issue of the New Republic. Cohn is describing a key event in Romney’s prep school career at Cranbrook, the sort that offers an early preview of his subject’s doggedness and toughness, however awkwardly manifested. For this section, Cohn has interviewed a former classmate of Romney named Eric Muirhead. Let them take it from here:
Muirhead admits that he didn’t think much of Mitt’s mettle, either—until senior year, when Mitt suddenly seemed a lot more serious about himself and decided to go out for the cross-country team. Although Mitt had never run track before, Muirhead, who was the team’s captain, and the rest of the team were quickly impressed with Mitt’s work ethic—so impressed, in fact, that when Muirhead fell ill before one of the season’s first meets, he told the coach Mitt should take the open slot.
The race began and, as expected, Mitt fell behind the pack. Muirhead figured it wouldn’t affect the end result. Given the strength of Cranbrook’s top runners, the team would still win, just as long as Mitt actually finished. But, as Mitt neared the end, he was gasping for breath. And, as he staggered through the final stretch, along a track circling the football field, he fell onto his hands and knees. The crowd, there for the homecoming football game, stood up as one—including Lenore Romney, who’d come to see her son’s first race. Muirhead ran out to help, but Mitt refused. “He got up, staggered, and fell again,” Muirhead says. “He kept getting up, kept falling, but kept shouting at us—kept telling us not to touch him. I don’t know how many times he fell, but he finished, he made his way around that track, and he got an ovation like I never heard. He won a lot of people’s respect that day. … In all my years, I never saw a guttier performance.”
Sen. Santorum, still think you can outlast him?
I would add to Aaron’s concerns regarding the evolving shape and stature of Egyptian democracy an ominous warning issued by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), presaging the Muslim Brotherhood’s decision to field el Shater:
“We ask everyone to be aware of the lessons of history to avoid mistakes from a past we do not want to return to, and to look towards the future.”
I’d hazard that the warning can be read one of two ways. First, as some Islamist leaders in Egypt are suggesting, it can be understood as a thinly veiled allusion to Nasser’s elimination of the MB in 1954. On the other hand, it could be suggestive of the SCAF’s unease about their grip on power… not to mention their considerable financial holdings.
In terms of domestic politics, the Brotherhood currently controls approximately 50% of the Egyptian Parliament. If they were to capture the executive office, the movement could threaten the ruling junta’s significant business interests — which are currently shielded from government oversight. A win at the ballots would mean MB control of the parliament, the constitutional assembly and the presidency…not to mention the bank vaults, national industries and corporate rentiers that line the pockets of the strongest and most enduring elements of Mubarak-era oligarchy.
If we’re prognosticating worst case scenarios…complete MB control of the mechanics of government rings in right behind the SCAF’s dissolution of the parliament or preclusion of the presidential elections, which would likely entail violent reprisal and potential state fracture.
Of course, the Obama administration’s decision to flagrantly ignore Congressional conditions for aid to our “allies” in Egypt removed any leverage the United States held to press the Cairene cabal to meet the demands of civilian rule, transparent election and the protections of free speech and assembly.
So either way you cut it, we’re stuck supporting the mullahs or the generals… all on the American tax-payer’s dime.
If this report is any indication, Rick Santorum seems as likely to double down as to drop out. That certainly fits in with his recent pattern of increasing the sharpness and frequency of his attacks on Mitt Romney. Santorum has also been talking up the similarities between Romney and Barack Obama. In the end, the voters in Pennsylvania will have much to say about Santorum’s plans.
UPDATE: It looks as though Santorum does indeed intend to double down.
On Tuesday, several Obama Administration officials met with a delegation of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said, “Following Egypt’s revolution, we have broadened our engagement to include new and emerging political parties and actors.”
Given that the Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 how exactly is it that they qualify as a new and emerging political party?
In any case, while the Muslim Brotherhood is telling the United States, Britain and other Western countries that it is moderate, its presidential candidate is telling quite a different story back in Egypt. The same day the Muslim Brotherhood delegation met with White House officials, Khairat el-Shater met with the Jurisprudence Commission for Rights and Reforms, a group of Salafist clerics and scholars. Well, whatever el-Shater said it made quite the impression. On their Facebook page, the Jurisprudence Commission stated, “El-Shater stressed that Shariah is his top and final goal and that he would work on forming a group of religious scholars to help parliament achieve this goal.”
Of course, el-Shater jumped into the presidential race despite a pledge from the Muslim Brotherhood not to do so. When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked about this development she replied that the Obama Administration would “watch what all of the political actors do and hold them accountable for their actions.” Yeah, her and what army? She went on to say, “We want to see Egypt move forward in a democratic transition - and what that means is that you do not and cannot discriminate against religious minorities, women, political opponents.” Well, religious minorities, women and political opponents haven’t exactly thrived under Shariah law.
But this is the Obama Administration we’re talking about. I’m sure they still view the Muslim Brotherhood as a “largely secular” organization despite all evidence to the contrary.
Former Attorney General Ed Meese saw this coming.
President Obama is now operating in tandem with the New York Times and other sympathetic media outlets to delegitimize not just the Supreme Court, but the Constitution itself. This effort can be traced back to a front page NYT hit piece authored by Adam Liptak that ran on July 24, 2010. The article is built around a database created by the National Science Foundation (NSF) that gauges the ideological complexion of court rulings and the leanings of individual members. “In the database, votes favoring criminal defendants, unions, people claiming discrimination or violation of their civil rights are, for instance, said to be liberal,” the report explains. “Decisions striking down economic regulations and favoring prosecutors, employers and the government are said to be conservative.”
In a subsequent piece that ran in February, Liptak targets the Constitution itself.
“The Constitution has seen better days,” the article begins.
From here, Liptak goes on to describe how the Constitution is no longer a compelling model for other countries. He even quotes sitting U.S. Supreme Court Association Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to drive the point home.
“I would not look to the United States Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012,” she said. As an alternative, Ginsburg recommends looking to South Africa’s constitution, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or the European Convention on Human Rights.
General Meese suspects the NYT reports are deliberately timed with White House actions.
“What he [Obama] is really doing is leading an effort to undermine the Constitution as the primary document which forms the basic principles of our government and the structure that should be followed by the executive branches as well as the other two branches,” Meese explained during a talk at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
Mark Wohlschlegel, a staff attorney with Americans for Limited Government (ALG), challenged Justice Ginsburg’s view of the Constitution in a recent report.
The Constitution “is not a document designed to empower the government to protect its people, but rather one that was designed to protects its people from their government,” he wrote.
It is now apparent that Team Obama views not just the Supreme Court, but the Constitution itself as an obstacle.
Now Easter weekend is coming up and is as good a time as any for respite and reflection. He may very well be raring to go on Monday full speed ahead. Yet I cannot help but wonder if Santorum will spend this good part of this respite reflecting on the viability of his campaign. Unless Mitt Romney collapses like the Boston Red Sox did last September, Santorum’s chances of capturing the GOP nomination are scant.
One of Santorum’s selling points is that he is a conservative who can win in a blue state. But if Santorum’s internal polling in Pennsylvania isn’t good he’s going to have a hard time convincing people outside of Pennsylvania to jump on board with him be they from blue states or red states.
I have a funny feeling that Santorum is going to drop out on Monday. Of course, I’m also the guy who just picked the Pittsburgh Pirates to win the NL Central. So take from that what you will.
UPDATE: As Jim Antle has noted, it looks like Santorum is staying in the race - for now. Given that Santorum is meeting with other social conservatives I wonder if this means he is going to become far more aggressive with Romney on abortion and gay marriage. I can’t imagine how else he might gain an advantage over Romney.
I’m grateful for Ralph Reiland bringing attention to the matter of “emo” eradication in Iraq, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t expand, slightly, on his thoughts. It’s an important matter that I’ve been paying close attention to over at the Foreign Policy Association — and been quoted about here. To be clear, young men and women in Iraq are not being killed for the type of music they listen to or for merely being “emos” — a label once reserved in the West for sensitive youth who soothed the tempo of young adulthood with melodic styles of rock, and unique dress.
In Iraq, “emos” describe a peculiar mash-up of femininity, Satan worship, affinity for Western dress — but most of all, presumptions of homosexuality. In practice, the label “emo” is a catch-all for suspected gays and lesbians (al shath), used by the conservative Interior Ministry to eradicate this grave religious and cultural taboo.
Mr. Reiland is correct “emos” are being killed…but he drastically understates the amount of violence directed toward this particular subset of Iraqi society. Over the past two months, more than 80 so-called “emos” have been beaten to death by roving bands of Shi’a militia, assigned the rank of “community police” by the bureaucratic higher-ups who want to wage culture war on social deviance.
It all started back in August of 2011, when the Interior Ministry instructed the Education Ministry to distribute memos to curb “emo” culture in schools. Concurrently, offenders were listed by name on flyers posted anonymously around predominantly Shi’a neighborhoods. Before long, bodies began to turn up.
The weapon of choice is the cinder block (known as the mawt al-blokkah) — a blunt instrument of violent identity politics. As international consternation grows, the Interior Ministry adjusted its tone, and retracted more bellicose warnings against these young people. However, they maintain a stated commitment to see “emos” are “dealt with.” Their denials of cultural crusading ring hollow, as do protestations that this crisis has been exaggerated by the media.
The worst and most virulent homophobia in Iraq is regularly witnessed in Shi’a neighborhoods. Although Iraqi gays claimed success in 2006 following the decision of Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani to remove a fatwah calling for the killing of all homosexuals in the “worst, most severe way possible” from his website, the tone of conduct was clearly established years ago.
The tide is high for social violence — initial efforts to root out gays have careened off into attacks against any young man with long hair or a slightly effete appearance. Despite government statements that this is a non-event, Iraqi bloggers are reporting many victims were brutally raped before they were murdered, suggesting this crescendo of murky violence boils down to a question of control.
As if we needed another instructive lesson, that power comes with targeted bloodshed in Iraq.
On Tuesday, a federal judge agreed with Amazon.com about the unconstitutionality of a 2010 law passed in Coloardo and invalidated what had become known as the “Amazon tax.” District Judge Robert Blackburn, who had placed a preliminary injunction against the rule shortly after its passage, issued a final ruling that “enforcing a reporting requirement on out-of-state retailers will, by definition, discriminate against the out-of-state retailers by imposing unique burdens on those retailers.”
In 2010, one of a package of “dirty dozen” tax increases in Colorado rammed through the state legislature by Democrats and signed by then-governor Bill Ritter (yet another fake “moderate”) was a tax designed to make online retailers either collect sales tax or else report to the state the information of every Colorado purchaser of products from those sites. I offered more details on the tax and regulation here.
It was not only the tax aspect of the law which was objectionable, but that the state intended to force out-of-state online retailers to report to the state all purchases by Coloradans. It was, as I noted at the time, rather Orwellian. Beyond that, it was stupid, as the cost of enforcing the law would probably have been about as much as any sales tax collected.
The “Amazon Tax” caused Amazon to shut down its “Amazon Associates” program in the state. At the time the law passed, Amazon stated their view that the Colorado law was obviously unconstitutional. One relatively prominent technology hedge fund owner and supporter of former Governor Bill Ritter was quite bitter about the Democrats’ passing this tax.
In 2011, after Republicans took control of the State House of Representatives, a bill was passed to repeal the Amazon Tax, with the repeal passing the relevant House committee by an 11-1 vote and passing the full House on a 58-6 vote, including many Democrats. However, the bill was killed by Democrats on the relevant State Senate committee and never got a vote in that chamber.
Now, thanks to Judge Blackburn, the Amazon tax is dead and buried…though zombie taxes are expected to soon be wandering through the halls of legislatures everywhere.
“Brick and mortar” stores complain bitterly about the uneven playing field with their having to charge sales tax while their online competitors don’t. A well-known example is how Best Buy is occasionally called “Amazon.com’s showroom” with people going to the local store to look at products and then going online to buy them, often getting a lower initial price and always avoiding sales tax.
When you’re talking about $100 in sales tax (such as on a $1200 television), it’s easy to understand why people do this…and I admit being one of those who would almost never buy an expensive item at a local store for exactly this reason.
Of course, ordinary stores have the additional overhead costs of large number of employees and real estate costs to recover in sales, meaning it’s difficult for them to match a large online retailer’s prices even separate from the sales tax issue.
But Walmart (admittedly with scale advantages that no other retailer has) does a good job of it, and people would likely be willing to pay a small premium to buy locally, for the convenience (of being able to get a product right away), the ease of returning something, and the availability of support. Of course, buying online has the convenience advantage of being able to get a product without having to leave your desk. In these days of $4 gasoline, avoiding driving certainly helps the online retailers as well.
Let’s say that customers might be willing to pay enough more to buy locally that brick and mortar stores could compete with online retailers on nominal price alone. This would imply that the major factor in consumers’ behavior when it comes to choosing between a local store and an online retailer, especially for high-dollar items is the sales tax.
The only solution ever discussed for this disparity is to try to force online retailers to collect sales tax and hand it over to the states. But following the Supreme Court decision in Quill, states have found that essentially impossible, with Judge Blackburn’s ruling being the latest nail in the coffin. No doubt states will continue to try to collect taxes on everything we buy, and even Amazon has suggested it would not oppose a federal solution to this question.
But another solution seems never to be discussed: lowering sales tax rates.
States, counties, and towns will say that they can’t afford to lose the sales tax revenue that would accompany lower rates, but there must be a Laffer Curve effect for retail purchase decisions just as with federal income tax. In other words, if the sales tax were low enough that people didn’t have such a large incentive to buy online to avoid the tax, local retailers would sell more products, especially high-dollar products.
Another alternative would be to lower the tax rate on products which cost more than $100 or more than $1000.
The left, of course, thinks the opposite way. They always think that expensive items show a rich buyer waiting to be soaked. This is the sort of thinking that gave the nation (with the signature of George H.W. Bush) a 10 percent tax on “yachts”, decimating the high-end boat-building business in America until the tax was repealed about two years later…after which the industry rebounded.
Sales taxes almost never decrease. Instead they stealthily increase over time, “just” 1/8 or 1/4 percent at a time, boiling the consumer frog, until you suddenly realize that you’re looking at adding another $8 or $10 on your $100 purchased, after a combination of state, county, and city sales taxes.
I am not optimistic that this discussion will end up any way other than with consumers being soaked for sales tax on their online purchases. But it says something that nobody, and I mean nobody, involved in the highest levels of such policy discussions ever suggests narrowing the online vs brick-and-mortar disparity by cutting tax rates.
Obama signs insider trading bill (Yahoo News)
Rick Santorum takes vacation from capaign trail (Fox DC)
DOJ runs from Obama’s SCOTUS remarks (Breitbart)
Obama, Romney see each other as vulnerable to charges of elitism (The Hill)
School removes “God” from Lee Greenwood song (Fox News)
CATO’s Crane Chronicles: Care and feeding of board members (Breitbart)
Sarah Palin’s pick for VP: Allen West (Politico)
TRICARE cost hike draws fire (Politico)
IL Rep. Tim Johnson to retire (The Hill)
Stocks take nosedive as investors worry (CNN)
Americans brace for next foreclosure wave (Reuters)
Pain at the pump hits gas stations (WSJ)
A Catholic university ends birth-contorl coverage (Reuters)
The easiest way to cheat on your taxes (NY Times)
Shelby Steele on Trayvon Martin (WSJ)
Surgery bans eldery patient over her carbon footprint (The Telegraph)
Spain is in “extreme difficulty” (Bloomberg)
Al-Qaeda forum back online after blackout (WaPo)
Esquire’s pay-to-play journalism in China (Reason)
CIA: Iran expanded nuclear program last year (Free Beacon)
VIDEO: Obama’s recycled rhetoric
Opening Night in MLB has come and gone. I was talking over the phone with my Dad as the Miami Marlins unveiled their new ballpark by hosting the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals. Redbirds starter Kyle Lohse tossed six innings of no-hit ball. As the game entered the bottom of the seventh, I told Dad, “I wonder when the announcers will mention that Bob Feller threw a no-hitter on Opening Day in 1940.”
Moments later, right on cue. there was the graphic indicating Feller did indeed throw an Opening Day no-hitter on April 16, 1940 against the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park. A couple of moments, also on cue, Lohse surrendered a single to Jose Reyes. Rapid Robert still stands alone. Nevertheless, Lohse got the W as the Cards beat the Marlins 4-1.
Baseball is back. I couldn’t be happier.
With Mitt Romney going 3 for 3 last night in Wisconsin, Maryland and D.C. has his long stalled inevitability finally arrived? The folks at FNC, as noted this morning by Stacy McCain, seem to think so and were pretty much in consensus in calling for Rick Santorum to step aside lest he face a humiliation in Pennsylvania later this month.
The argument was that Romney will just fill Pennsylvania’s airwaves (especially the TV market in Philadelphia)with negative ads about Santorum as he has done in other states. But it’s not like people in the Keystone state don’t know Santorum. Whatever Romney’s ads about Santorum, it’s not like they haven’t heard it before and too much of it could backfire against Romney.
But Santorum is damned if he does win Pennsylvania and damned if he doesn’t. If he doesn’t, calls for him to exit will reach a fever pitch. But if he does win then I suspect the analysts at FNC will say he ‘was supposed to win his home state.’ There are also primary contests in New York, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island that night and Romney is heavily favored to win all of those states. Unless Santorum scores an upset in one of these other states (preferably New York), there will still be calls for him to exit the race even if he does win in Pennsylvania.
Hugh Hewitt argues this race ended in Florida. I don’t buy that argument. I think if Santorum had beat Romney in Michigan (its primary a full four weeks after Florida) I think the complexion of the race would be different. I’m not saying Romney wouldn’t still have an advantage but I don’t think anyone would be talking about Mitt’s inevitability the way it is being discussed now.
With that said, unless Romney is caught with both a dead girl and a live boy, Santorum’s chances of winning the nomination is about as slim as Angelina Jolie. And even if Romney were caught with both a dead girl and a live boy, I’d still say his chances were about 50-50. I’m not saying Santorum should drop out but the math is against him.
Look I’m not sold on Romney. Every time I see his key supporters (i.e. Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio and Chris Christie) I ask myself, “Why aren’t they running?” I am certain that I am far from alone in thinking this way and that does not bode well for Romney.
But let’s say that Romney is, in fact, inevitable. Well, he faces an opponent who can not only outspend him but is prepared to “kill” him. Throw in a sympathetic, if not a sycophantic media and President Obama will be a far more formidable foe than either Santorum or Newt Gingrich.
Complicating matters is a significant portion of the conservative electorate part of which doesn’t trust him and part of which is grudgingly beginning to embrace him. The only way Romney fully wins over this crowd is if he bloodies President Obama in the debates. But given that he won’t call Obama a socialist this isn’t likely.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think President Obama is intelligent enough to be in the same room with Mitt Romney much less qualified to be an entry level employee in one of his companies. But yet that might not matter.
Over the last two days, Barack Obama’s reelection strategy has become clear. If the health care law is overturned, he will run against the Supreme Court. If the law is upheld, he will run against Paul Ryan. But what would the first scenario look like?
On the one hand, a Supreme Court reversal of the president’s signature domestic achievement would fire up the Democratic base. Liberals would be outraged. It would help the Obama campaign get turnout among minorities and younger voters to approach the improbable 2008 levels, as the president would treat it as an undemocratic attack on his legitimacy. It would help solve whatever enthusiasm problems remain among liberal voters.
The flip side is that the law is unpopular, especially among groups the president needs to win reelection and who in some cases exist in larger numbers than liberals. Many Americans believe Obamacare is unconstitutional and would like to see it repealed one way or another. Is Obama really going to campaign on reinstating a law large numbers of swing voters intensely dislike? It seems to be a good way to remind independents of what they came to dislike about the administration and its policies.
Obama may be hoping for an assist from Mitt Romney, his likeliest Republican challenger. A Supreme Court decision against the individual mandate would in many respects help Romney neutralize the issue. But Obama will probably use it to muddy distinctions between the two major party candidates on health care while reminding liberals that some Republicans didn’t have a problem with the mandate before the Democrats took office. Whether that strategy would work is less clear.
Here’s a big question that the exit polls don’t quite answer: Who are the Rick Santorum Democrats? Are they liberal mischief-makers, social conservatives in the mold of the Reagan Democrats, or some combination of both?
In Wisconsin, 11 percent of the voters who participated in the open Republican primary identified as Democrats. Santorum won this group by 20 points, taking 44 percent to Mitt Romney’s 24 percent and Ron Paul’s 19 percent. Newt Gingrich got just 5 percent. Independents voted 38 percent for Romney, 34 percent for Santorum, and 21 percent for Paul. Santorum came within three points of Romney among the plurality of voters who identified themselves moderate or liberal, taking 33 percent to Romney’s 36 percent. Those are relatively high numbers for someone running as a conservative insurgent against the Republican establishment choice.
In Maryland, the numbers were more along the lines of what you’d expect. Only 2 percent of the Republican primary voters identified themselves as Democrats. The independents broke 40-25 for Romney, with Paul in third with 21 percent. The moderate to liberal voters went 48-22 for Romney, with Paul taking 16 percent.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is taking a different tone than the president with regard to the Supreme Court and the health care law, but she expresses similar confidence that the law will be upheld.
“I’m predicting 6-3 in favor,” Pelosi said, as quoted by the Washington Times. “We shall see. It’s a lesson in civics, and I respect it.” Pelosi didn’t name the six justices she thought would uphold the law, but the likeliest breakdown in that scenario would be Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy voting with the court’s liberal bloc.
Then Speaker Pelosi’s response to the intial constitutional questions has not been improved upon by subsequent liberal commentary: “Are you serious?”
Interesting nugget from last night’s exit polls: In Wisconsin, a 40 percent plurality of Republican primary voters described themselves as moderate or liberal. But they didn’t vote overwhelmingly for Mitt Romney. They broke down Romney 36 percent, Rick Santorum 33 percent, and Ron Paul 19 percent.
In Maryland, a smaller 31 percent slice of the Republican primary electorate described themselves as moderate or liberal. Romney dominated, taking 48 percent to Santorum’s 22 percent and Paul’s 16 percent. Newt Gingrich made it into the double digits at 10 percent.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s education reform agenda could be coming to a head in the Louisiana State Senate this week where the vote is expected to be close on some key bills. Jindal has proposed converting the New Orleans voucher program into a statewide option, expand the number of charter schools, and interlink tenure with student and teacher performance. The governor has encountered stiff opposition from the state’s two teachers unions—the Louisiana Association of Educators and the Louisiana Federation of Teachers. Jindal is also now the target of a recall effort initiated by individual teachers whom the unions have not yet formally embraced.
But unlike Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker is now under siege after taking on the public sector, Louisiana is a right to work state where business interests are on more of an even keel with the power of organized labor. If Jindal is successful, his reforms could reverberate across state lines.
Under the legislation enacted in 2008, the Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence (SSEE) program provides low-income families in Orleans Parish with the option to select a public or private school. Over 1,800 students in grades K-6 have received scholarships in the current 2011-2012 school year.
To be eligible, household income cannot exceed 250 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, which would be $55,875 for a family of four in 2011. Moreover, the student must have attended an “F” rated public school the previous year, or be entering kindergarten. The Louisiana Department of Education has published a list of the schools participating in the Orleans Parish program.
Sen. Conrad Appel, the Republican chairman of the Senate Education Committee, cautions against thinking the voucher proposal will initially impact a substantial number of students. But he is hopeful the program can grow over time as more seats become available.
“When you compare the voucher proposal with the legislation that could be used to open more charter schools, the modifications to teacher accountability, and the [re-defined] relationship between school boards, superintendents and principals, we are talking about a very small change,” Appel said. “I think the voucher concept is very valid, and it does create opportunities for certain families, but in practice what we are talking about is not as far reaching as the other proposals that are part of the education reform package.”
Under Sen. Appel’s bill (SB 597), any Louisiana student enrolled in a school with a C grade or lower would be eligible to apply for a voucher. That student must also be part of a household with an income that does exceed 250 percent of the federal poverty rate. This means about 380,000 students would be eligible to apply, according to state figures.
Catholic school officials have concluded that about 2,000 additional seats could be opened up across the state if the voucher legislation is passed.
The Black Alliance for Educational Opportunity (BAEO) conducted a survey by direct mail this past December that showed over 90 percent of parents with scholarship students were pleased with their child’s school and their academic progress. The Pelican Institute has also released a study that shows Louisiana students stand to benefit from school vouchers and other choice initiatives.
Mit Romney sweeps DC, MD, and WI primaries (Chicago Tribune)
Justice Department must answer federal court about Obama’s health care comments (Fox News)
Associated Press chief offers lavish praise for Obama (Weekly Standard)
Can Obama convince America Romney is a radical right-winger? (The Atlantic)
NBC apologizes for Zimmerman tape edits (WaPo)
Russian spy arrested after getting dangerously close to Obama cabinet member (Wired)
Treasury officials given 1 day to review Solyndra loan (Bloomberg)
Bi-partisan P90X workouts (ABC)
Sara Palin co-hosts the Today show (Breitbart)
Paul Ryan’s Hunger Games (WSJ)
Overturning ObamaCare and the polling fallout (NY Times)
Federal reserve slows down talk of more stimulus (Reuters)
VP Joe Biden: Fracking causes earthquakes (The Right Scoop)
Regulators will punish JP Morgan over Lehman collapse (NY Times)
Moody’s downgrades Generel Electric (GE)
Nancy Pelosi wants Hillary Clinton to run in 2016 (USA Today)
Why wouldn’t Planned Parenthood accept a $500,000 donation? (Forbes)
Deal closes on night raids in Afghanistan (NY Times)
VIDEO: White House Press Secretary can’t answer why Senate hasn’t passed a budget
This race ain’t over. But the Santorum campaign is now facing incredibly daunting odds. They need a big win April 24 in Pennsylvania, not just a small victory — and they need to pull off an upset in Delaware, too. And then they need everything to go perfectly from then on. Tim Tebow, Dave Wottle, and Han Solo need to report for duty.
I had to be dragged kicking and screaming to Twitter, but I am finding (after several weeks) that I actually like it. It’s sort of fun. Lots of good humor on it.
Follow me at
I had a column yesterday at the Washington Examiner that explains, again, why we should drastically cut or, even better, completely eliminate the corporate income tax. See here.
Americans businesses were turned into April Fools on Sunday when a cut in Japan’s top corporate income tax rate left the United States with the highest such rate in the developed world — including Communist China’s. With Great Britain also slicing rates this month from 26 percent to 24 percent, the U.S. average top rate (federal and state combined) of 39.2 percent stands as a tremendous barrier to economic growth, higher incomes and job creation. …
[A] zero rate would help keep consumer prices down, boost retiree and union pension funds and eliminate most businesses’ tax compliance costs, freeing business accountants to concentrate on efficiencies rather than tax avoidance. It would also discourage debt financing in favor of safer equity financing and produce multitudinous growth effects.
Among numerous other benefits, one bears particular emphasis. Half the lobbying in Washington is aimed not at securing pork or contracts, but at finagling special corporate tax treatment. Eliminate the tax, and we eliminate that lobbying — and the incentives for graft that go with it. The repeal of corporate taxes would serve as a sort of backdoor ethics reform…..
Hope y’all enjoy the whole thing.
Speaking of “the media’s role in recent years as an arm of the Obama press office,” as Ross Kaminsky so aptly put it earlier today, did anyone catch the loving treatment Mr. Obama received from CBS during halftime of last night’s NCAA basketball finals? To be sure, he did look a bit lost without his teleprompter while trying to respond to CBS’s analyst Clark Kellogg’s tough questioning. And he did look rather runty in the presence of Kellogg, a towering former NBA and Big Ten star forward. Yet it also amounted to four minutes of adoring advertising, it would seem. I’m surprised CBS didn’t have the president place a call to the winning team when it was all over.
Last week, in an article for the Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf penned a complimentary piece about “America’s Most Important Anti-War Politician,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).
Friedersdorf concluded that non-interventionists on both sides of the aisle should focus more on the legislative branch and less on the presidency if they’d like to see the “path to war” run through the Congress, as opposed to an increasingly imperial executive.
The article was prompted by Paul’s solitary stand against war with Iran last week, when the junior senator blocked bipartisan passage of new sanctions to bring context to the use of force.
In his floor speech, Sen. Paul remarked:
Many in this body cannot get boots on ground fast enough in a variety of places, from Syria to Libya to Iran. We don’t just send boots to war. We send our young Americans to war. Our young men and women, our soldiers, deserve thoughtful debate.
Before sending our young men and women into combat, we should have a mature and thoughtful debate over the ramifications of and over the authorization of war and over the motives of the war.
Paul prefaced this statement with brief — but incisive — analysis of the Founder’s hesitation to give the president the power to declare war. Perhaps unlike any other command, the authority to wage war summons the likeness of monarchy.
I should be clear — Paul wasn’t up there to block passage of new and effective sanctions against Iran.
Rather, he sounded a wake-up call against a high-flying presidency, unencumbered by the fundamental checks and balances, separation of powers and representative government framed by constitutional principle — not illusions of American empire.Continue reading…
Our friend, conservative titan Craig Shirley, has just been honored as a finalist for the Book of the Year Award for his superb December 1941, a history of the start of the U.S. involvement in World War II. Congratulations, Craig!
Liberals were saying the same thing before oral arguments that they are saying even louder now: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is so obviously constitutional that the Supreme Court simply must uphold it. When the solicitor general couldn’t articulate a coherent constitutional defense of the law or even competently answer entirely predictable questions about it, the subject was changed to “judicial activism” and power plays by right-wing justices (some of whom will be hailed as wise men if they do in fact vote to uphold Obamacare).
Let’s examine the high quality arguments that only ideology can keep the justices from finding persuasive.
Here we have James Fallows citing an email from a Dutch reader with an elementary school understanding of American politics. That emailer worries that “Scalia’s ‘originalism’ is being demonstrated to be fundamentally hollow and partisan,” without giving any sense he even knows what originalism means. Fallows himself concludes “real-world circumstances have changed so dramatically in the past 230+ years that the practical-minded drafters of the Constitution would never have suggested that the details of their scheme should be applied, unaltered, in the 21st century.”
Of course, that’s not originalism either. What is at issue here is whether the American people, through the process of ratifying the Constitution and its amendments, every understood themselves to be giving the federal government the powers it is now asserting. That’s not the same as saying the air force is unconstitutional because the Founding Fathers didn’t have planes.
This was sublime constitutional reasoning compared to this Slate piece invoking Dr. Seuss in defense of Obamacare:
It helps me to recall that even Dr. Seuss’ creatures were able to overcome their short-sightedness. One day, the Sneetches got “really quite smart” and recognized that belly star or not, “Sneetches are Sneetches.” Were we to come to a similar conclusion, the Affordable Care Act would have nothing to fear.
If that helps you to recall, be my guest pal.
And for the win, we have the president asserting the following: “I’m confident that this will be upheld because it should be upheld.” That is, in essence, the constitutional argument here. The should be clause, the latest emanation or penumbra, joins the commerce clause (redefined as a power to regulate everything) and the necessary and proper clause (redefined as a mandate to pass any old law Congress wants) as a get-out-of-jail-free card for federal pols exercising unenumerated powers.
Less than a month ago, Barack Obama decided to give a speech on Super Tuesday, a key day in the Republican primary season. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the timing of the speech was “not a coincidence.”
Perhaps he is trying to remind people that he is the president while the scrambling Republicans just hope to be.
More likely he is trying to keep the cameras pointed at him, in part to distract attention away from his competitors and in part because he is a publicity hound fueled by a mild case of narcissism — as also shown by the fact that he thinks we need his opinion on every issue in the news (about which more tomorrow) and that nothing is ever his fault.
Today is another important day in Republican politics, with primaries in Wisconsin, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. Mitt Romney is expected to win all three, with some wondering aloud whether that would be a “knock-out blow” to Rick Santorum. (I very much doubt it will be a knock-out blow, though if Santorum does not win his home state of Pennsylvania in three weeks, that could prove a watershed moment despite a more favorable spate of southern states coming up in May.)
Given what a potentially big day this is for Mitt Romney in the news cycle, here comes Barack Obama on cue with a plan to attack the House Republican Budget, authored by Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan — who recently endorsed Romney.
Early reports give a glimpse into Obama’s approach. Let’s just say it’s not one looking for common ground (not that there is much.) “It’s a Trojan horse. Disguised as deficit reduction plan, it’s really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. It’s nothing but thinly veiled social Darwinism.”
The tactics can work the other way; it is possible that some of the news value of Obama’s attack on the Ryan budget (which the left is calling the Ryan-Romney budget) will be lost in coverage of the primary contests. But given the media’s role in recent years as an arm of the Obama press office, most news broadcasts and newspapers are likely to play up the president’s ultra-partisan language and play down any good news for Obama’s most likely opponent in November.
Beyond the question of whether it’s wise for Obama to bring up “radical vision” when his truly radical vision for American health care is in public focus, one has to wonder whether a courageous reporter will ever ask the president why he keeps scheduling speeches on days of major Republican primary contests. I’m not holding my breath.
Republican primaries in WI, DC and MD today! (WaPo)
GOP, Romney to raise money jointly (WSJ)
GSA head resigns amid reports of lavish spending in Vegas (AP)
President Obama declares war on Supreme Court (Breitbart)
Obama denounces “radical” Republican budget plan (AP)
4 Indiana Dems charged with election fraud in 2008 presidential race (Fox News)
The war against youth (Esquire)
Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom” (EW)
Eurozone unemployment soars to record levels (Daily Mail)
Dept. of Energy allowed company to skirt light bulb rule (Free Beacon)
Foreclosure reforms to widen (WaPo)
Investors dip into riskier waters (WSJ)
Got money offshore? IRS starts new amnesty program (WSJ)
The bizarre calculus of emergency room charges (LA Times)
Newt aims for Gingrich flavor in Romney platform (Washington Examiner)
Where is George W. Bush? (Politico)
VIDEO: Insurance mandates vs. pizza toppings
On Friday, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, by a vote of 5-0, officially certified the recall election for Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, and four GOP state senators (one of whom has resigned). Primaries to determine possible replacements will be held on May 8, with the final election taking place on June 5. The Friends of Scott Walker campaign committee estimates the recall will cost approximately $9 million in taxpayer money.
Since January, it appeared the leading Democratic contender would be former Dane County executive Kathleen Falk, who received every major endorsement and the backing of large unions representing public workers and teachers.
But polling for Democrats haven’t been great, and former mayor Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett jumped into the race. Barrett lost narrowly to Gov. Walker in 2010.
The proposal Barrett sent to Falk and the other candidates would impose financial penalties on candidates if they mentioned their opponents in ads — or if outside groups attacked Democrats on their behalf.
“As Democrats, we must be united in the only mission that matters: recalling Scott Walker and moving our state forward,” Barrett wrote in a letter to his opponents. “Nearly one million people signed recall petitions as members of a citizen grass-roots movement to restore Wisconsin values trampled on by this governor — not to watch Democrats sling mud at one another.”
However, there is no chance of Falk agreeing to the pledge, because as Barrett continues to gain momentum, her only resort is to point out Barrett’s previous support for a law that limited bargaining rights.
Falk’s union supporters have already chimed in on the blogosphere to remind voters that Barrett has championed the same reforms that fixed Wisconsin’s $3.6 billion budget hole:
As you can tell, this primary could easily become an ugly battle.
And when Democrats finally pick a candidate, they will face the $12 million in unlimited campaign contributions Walker has been able to raise since mid-January. (Henceforth, now that the recall has been certified, he’ll have to abide by limits.) By contrast, Barrett has roughly $450,000 in his mayoral re-election fund that he’d be able to transfer to the general campaign.
Earlier today, Quin Hillyer suggested that Rick Santorum needs to reach out to Ron Paul supporters.
There is a kernel of truth to that statement. Anyone who is the standard bearer of the GOP has to appeal to its various factions. Which is exactly why there is no chance in hell of Rick Santorum persuading Ron Paul supporters to sport his buttons in Tampa.
Aside from the fact that Tehran Ron supporters aren’t going to support someone who wants a military intervention in Iran, they are also not going to support someone who is so openly disdainful of libertarianism.
After all it was Rick Santorum who said last summer, “I am not a libertarian, and I fight very strongly against libertarian influence within the Republican Party and the conservative movement.”
Earlier this year, Santorum made it clear that he and Paul weren’t on the same page when it came to The Constitution:
Ron Paul has a libertarian view of the Constitution. I do not. The Constitution has to be read in the context of another founding document, and that’s the Declaration of Independence. Our country never was a libertarian idea of radical individualism. We have certain values and principlesthat are embodied in our country. We have G-d given rights.
Given Santorum’s distaste for libertarianism, it’s hard to see how Santorum can possibly bridge such a chasm. I’m sure Santorum and Paul have points of agreement but their differences are so vast, even if Santorum had the money he couldn’t possibly build a tent big enough for the Paul supporters to set up camp.
What if Rick Santorum — or any Republican running to Mitt Romney’s right — had cut this ad much, much earlier in the primary process and had the money to air it frequently?
UPDATE (4/3): After posting yesterday about the Indiana Senate primary, I was contacted by Sen. Richard Lugar’s son David Lugar and political consultant Pat Hynes about errors in my post.
It is true I mixed up the efforts of two super PACs that are buying ads to support Lugar in Indiana: 1) Hoosiers for Economic Growth and Jobs; and 2) Indiana Values Super PAC.
Also, David Lugar confirms that he has no association with the Indiana Values Super PAC.
I inferred that there was, because the super PAC used the same address that was once listed for Lugar’s lobbying firm. However, a fourth quarter 2011 lobbying disclosure filed about the same time as the super PAC’s formation lists a different address for The Lugar Group.
There was no need for me to make additional assumptions about the Indiana Values Super PAC, and I sincerely apologize to David Lugar.
Long-time Indiana Senator Richard Lugar is fighting for his political life against a challenge from Tea Party State Treasurer Dick Mourdock. And conservative groups such as FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth have turned it into the most heated Senate primary in America.
Lugar, who was first elected to the Senate in 1976, is being challenged by these conservative organizations for what they consider to be his insufficiently conservative record. More specifically, they point to his vote for the creation of the Department of Energy, his vote for the Bush-era Medicare Part D, and his support of the 2008 Economic Stimulus Act.
Media reports show Sen. Jim DeMint, a conservative leader in the Senate known for keeping a low profile, has taken the unusual step of transferring at least $500,000 from his Senate Conservatives Fund to the Club for Growth to fund attack ads currently running on Indiana television, such as this one.
In response, a pro-Lugar Super PAC launched its own attack ad. However, its target isn’t Mourdock. Instead, it’s focused on the Club for Growth’s president, Chris Chocola, who is from Indiana and who hasn’t been in Congress since 2006 when he was defeated by Rep. Joe Donnelly, who will be the Democrat candidate for Lugar’s Senate seat.
Another pro-lugar Super PAC running ads is Indiana Values Super
PAC, Inc. shows its treasurer is Andrew Klingenstein, a former
staffer Lugar who is
at the address of David Lugar’s lobbying firm:
The Lugar Group, LLC. At 555 12th St. NW #770, Washington,
Also, the super PAC’s 2011 FEC report for Indiana Values, which covers the last two weeks of December, lists a $10,000 contribution from Robert J. Kabel on December 21 and a $17,000 expenditure for a poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies.
According to the Federal Election Campaign Act, non-connected PACs are required to register with the FEC within 10 days, once contributions or expenditures exceed $1,000. But while that poll was commissioned on December 13, Indiana Values’ state of organization report with the FEC wasn’t signed and postmarked until January 5. This appears to be a violation of FEC rules.
This may be another problem Lugar has to wrestle with, after he received good news on Friday that his 604 acre farm, which Lugar considers too “rustic” to live on, can be used as Lugar’s address for voting purposes. Until now, Lugar was being pummeled for living fulltime in suburban Washington and not maintaining a home and voting address in the state he represents.
Primaries in 2012 have already been bad news for incumbents across the country, with angry Tea Party voters showing up to the polls. Perhaps Indiana is next.
In recent weeks, we have seen Mitt Romney win Illinois and then Rick Santorum take Louisiana by a wide margin. Tomorrow, Romney is all but certain to win Maryland and the District of Columbia while he’s likely to carry Wisconsin. This raises a question I see a lot in the comments section: Why do blue states get to pick the Republican nominee?
Take a look at the remaining primary calendar. The states that look best for Romney are mostly blue. Santorum’s best remaining opportunities remain in red states, with the significant exception of his home state of Pennsylvania. This leads many people to ask: Who cares if Romney wins states that Republicans are never going to carry in November?
I understand the sentiment, but there are a few things in play here. First, the GOP delegate allocation process already does reward states with a recent history of voting Republican. Perhaps that formula could be modified or the rewards increased, but states that voted for John McCain in 2008 or elected a Republican governor since then get a boost from their GOP voting habits.
Second, even in blue states with open primaries most of the Republican primary voters will end up supporting the eventual nominee. They are red voters within blue states. In some cases, like California, they can be rather conservative. Do we want to punish or disenfranchise Republicans who live in the wrong states? Third, how would you handle swing states? Should Ohio’s primary have counted for significantly less after voting for Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996? What about Florida after it went for Barack Obama in 2008? West Virginia wasn’t a reliably red state until George W. Bush, voting for Michael Dukakis in 1988 and then for Clinton twice.
It seems to me that too heavy-handed an approach to swing states that recently voted Democratic would make their Democratic voting habits a self-fulfilling prophecy. And shouldn’t the party’s goal be to make more states Republican? California once regularly voted for Republican presidential candidates while most Southern states did not. The idea is to be a national, not regional party.
Finally, a sweep of the early red and purple states — Iowa, South Carolina, and Florida — by a single conservative candidate may have hobbled Romney’s candidacy long before the larger blue states even voted.
The computer systems of a major credit card payment processing company called Global Payments have been hacked, reportedly compromising information on up to 1.5 million credit card account numbers.
Two of my credit cards (one MasterCard and one American Express) are among the numbers stolen, as proven by Amex and Citibank calling me to verify charges on my cards (2 through Yahoo, 1 to Google AdWords, and 1 to EasyJet) which I did not make. Those cards have been canceled.
I’m impressed by and grateful for how seriously and effectively the card companies and banks work to prevent fraudulent charges.
Although 1.5 million represents less than one percent of the total number of debit and credit cards issued to United States cardholders, don’t assume that your data is safe.
I encourage you to get online if you can to check activity on your credit cards and make sure the charges you see are valid, and keep checking for a few weeks. If you can’t or don’t check your activity online, make sure to check your statement very carefully when it arrives.
Generally, you will not be liable for charges you didn’t make, though if you wait a long time to report the charge to your card company, your risk of being stuck with the charge may increase.
One of the disturbing aspects of this story is that the public was only notified of this hack at the end of March (on Friday). The company became aware of the data breach in early March, and the breach itself apparently lasted for more than a month, from January 21, 2012 to February 25, 2012, according to the Krebson Security blog which has a good timeline of the release of information. However, the company claims that they discovered and reported the breach themselves; it was not found or reported first by customers or banks. They also say that they reported the breach to federal law enforcement immediately upon discovery in early March. Perhaps law enforcement asked the company not to disclose the breach to the public in order to try to make their initial investigations easier by not alerting the criminals to the fact that the data theft had been discovered.
Visa has dropped Global Payments from their list of approved providers.
Global Payments held a conference call on Monday morning to discuss the issue (as well as their earnings report.) The company has posted a webcast of the call. They claim that only “Track 2” data (relating to the tracks on the magnetic stripes on the backs of credit cards) was taken, and that other key information, including Social Security numbers, names, and addresses were not stolen. According to the Chicago Tribune, “A person improperly using Track 2 information can transfer the account number and expiration date of a card to a magnetic stripe on a fraudulent card and then try to use it to make online purchases. The attempt could be blocked, however, if an online merchant asks for the CVV code, or the three or four digits usually located on the back of card.”
If Track 1 data was also taken, which is possible, that would include the cardholder’s name.
It was disappointing to hear the company say that they were unaware of any fraudulent transactions on any of the stolen accounts. Perhaps someone at the company will read this blog note and change their answer…
The company is also launching a web site to update the public with information on the data breach. It should be operational later today at http://www.2012infosecurityupdate.com/
Global Payments stock (NYSE: GPN) plunged from $52 to $47.50 per share on Friday, and is down about another $1.50 to just below $46 in early trading on Monday.
The Boston Globe has a new poll out showing Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) locked in a dead heat with his likely Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren. The exact numbers are Brown 37 percent and Warren 35 percent with 26 percent undecided. Interestingly, neither side’s attacks on the other seem to be sticking:
Few poll respondents associated her with the “Harvard elitist’’ label that Brown has tried to tag her with. Likewise, only one in five of those surveyed agree with Warren’s argument that Brown is marching in lockstep with the Republicans.
The race will likely hinge on undecided independents and moderate to conservative Democrats. Brown currently leads among the first group, Warren the second, but about a third of each bloc hasn’t made their mind up yet.
A new USA Today/Gallup poll which includes specific data on “swing states” has Barack Obama with his largest lead of this election season over Mitt Romney among registered voters nationally and in those swing states.
Obama’s 4-point lead over Romney is the largest margin for either candidate since the question was started being asked in August. Obama’s lead over Rick Santorum is twice as large, at 8 percent.
For the first time since the question started being asked in late October, Obama leads Romney in a dozen key “swing states”:
The last piece of bad news for Romney in today’s report is in the declining enthusiasm of those who say they would support him, with a dramatic drop over the last two months from 56 percent to 43 percent being “extremely enthusiastic” or “very enthusiastic” about voting. Obama’s enthusiasm numbers also dropped, from 50 percent to 46 percent.
As the Chicago Tribune reports, Romney has suffered dramatically among women under 50 years old. In February, Obama led among this group by nine percent. That lead has since doubled to 18 percent. This is a gender gap which must be narrowed by the eventual Republican nominee, no matter who he is, in order to have any chance of winning this election. In my view — and I know that many “real conservatives” out there will squawk — Romney’s running as a “severe conservative” is a major political loser in the general election, and it hasn’t really helped him in the primary season either as the Republican base doesn’t believe him. So he’s getting the worst of both worlds by trying to portray himself as a rock-ribbed conservative
Democrats shouldn’t start planning Barack Obama’s re-inauguration just yet.
We’ve been through two months of intense battle among the Republican presidential hopefuls, with Santorum and Romney in particular dragging each other down with intensely negative ads and comments.
Despite Romney’s modest attentions to Obama, the president has gone essentially unscathed over the last two months, not least because of the “mainstream” media’s interest in seeing him re-elected.
Can you imagine what the New York Times and Washington Post would have done to a Republican president who whispered to a Russian leader that he would have “flexibility” on missile defense negotiations after an election?
Can you envision what the network news broadcasts would have done to a Republican president with pictures of gas stations selling gasoline over $4 per gallon?
Complaining about media bias is fruitless. My point is that once a Republican nominee is selected, his focus will be intensely and solely on President Obama and this administration’s destructive policies — and the media will have to cover it.
Mitt Romney isn’t doing himself any favors in terms of generating enthusiasm by visiting a massive home he’s renovating, complete with an elevator for his cars. The New York Times said that they received plans for the expansion from “a rival campaign.” One has to wonder whether the Times got the info from the Obama team but is trying to make it sound like it came from the Santorum campaign in order to add ammunition to the typical Republican circular firing squad.
Still, people know that Romney is rich. They know he’s the 1 percent of the 1 percent. The question is whether the Democrats are overestimating how much that will hurt Romney in November, especially in comparison to an incumbent who seems as out of touch with the average American — who has to pay his own gasoline and electricity bills, and worry about his own employment — as any Democrat in recent memory, Jimmy Carter included. Obama is every bit the elitist that Romney is, just not as wealthy an elitist.
Obama remains personally popular, whether because he’s a “historic” first black president or because he seems like a good family man or because voters are subconsciously hesitant to admit they made a mistake (or were fooled) as egregious as the mistake the nation made in 2008, not just in electing Barack Obama but in giving Democrats enough power in Washington that they could jam Obamacare down our throats.
Therefore, Romney’s challenge, if he is to reverse these poll numbers — and I believe he will — is to find a way to attack Obama’s record and policies without sounding as if he’s attacking Obama personally.
During the heat of a Republican primary season, neither the media nor the public is listening intently to Republican critiques of Obama. And of course the media is ignoring any piece of news which is not favorable to the president, which is to say every piece of recent news that involves him.
This, more than anything fundamental about Mitt Romney or Barack Obama, is what Monday’s poll results are telling us. Yes, it would be better for Mitt Romney if his numbers hadn’t suffered so badly over the last two months. But overconfidence by Democrats or excess concern by Republicans is not warranted…at least not yet.
Why, 15 years ago is… 1997. Hey, that’s also the year the world agreed to the Kyoto Protocol to… halt catastrophic man-made global warming! Wow, that’s some super fast-acting global governance.
Of course, with the exception of chronically recessed Japan, Russia, and Canada, this treaty only covered Europe; and only a combination of the recession and buying “credits” from exempt countries like China, India, Brazil, South Korea, and so on allowed Europe to meet its promise. Not creation of a viable “clean energy economy.”
And global emissions, well, they went up. While temperatures fell well below what we could have achieved had we de-industrialized. According to the models. So, to recap, emissions at the upper regions of projections (even with the not-projected recession); temps well-below any reduction scenario.
So the theory, like the computer model projections on which the entire enterprise was premised (with the spit and tape of Malthusean dogma), is proved wrong. But, still, let’s declare victory and go home.
That is, if it really was about the climate. Which of course it wasn’t, given the same computer models acknowledged there would be no detectable climate impact even from perfect implementation of Kyoto, with emission reductions not “carbon credit trading” which allows BAU so long as covered countries transfer sufficient wealth.
But whatever one’s rationale, now seems like a good time to abandon the climate panic and its apparent real purpose, the thoroughly anti-prosperity agenda, and get on with putting things back together from amid the rubble of the same crowd’s other great ideas.
Because my column this morning already was so ridiculously long, I left out a point I wanted to make. But here’s a key consideration: If Rick Santorum hopes to win his challenges to the Arizona and Florida delegations, and hopes to win a convention battle on the second or later ballot, it is a near-imperative for him to start doing more to appeal to people who back Ron Paul. There probably will be well over 100 delegates at the convention who are committed on the first ballot to Paul; they will be free agents — THE key free agents — after the first ballot. And their numbers, if they shift heavily to Romney, could put Romney over the top. If they shift largely to Santorum, they could go a long way toward making Santorum the winner.
Right now, Santorum has spent more time criticizing Ron Paul’s foreign policy than he has spent emphasizing the parts of his own economic plans that dovetail nicely with Paul’s positions. Santorum is no libertarian on many “social issues” (such as legalizing drugs), but he supports reforms of the Federal Reserve; he supports free-market economics to a greater extent than Romney does; and he is far closer to Paul than Romney appears to be on certain civil liberties. But Santorum hasn’t done enough to make this clear. Unless he does, on these and a number of other issues, the Paul delegates may not swing his way.
You can’t build a coalition without reaching out. Santorum’s campaign needs to find ways to make common cause.
Current TV bosses had laundry list of reasons Keith Olbermann was sacked (Fox News)
Obama, Calderon, Harper talk trade, energy (AP)
A widening gender gap boosts Obama over Romney (USA Today)
Mad Men slams Romney… George Romney (Breitbart)
Santorum: Ryan’s budget doesn’t go far enough with cuts (The Hill)
House Republicans discuss reviving earmarks (Reuters)
RSC budget vote flippers (RedState)
Sarah Palin to co-host NBC’s ‘Today’ on Tuesday (AP)
In Canada, Senators solve disagreements in the boxing ring (National Post)
Chris Christie goes to Israel (NBC)
Obama lawyers used faulty data on uncompensated care (IBD)
Biggest bond traders see worst over for treasuries (Bloomberg)
Top Obama campaign donor accused of fraud (AP)
Michelle Obama gets slimed (Daily Mail)
Sen. Richard Burr abandons Whip bid (Roll Call)
Corzine is getting a pass - would you? (WSJ)
Eleven alternatives to Obamacare’s individual mandate (Bloomberg)
Candidate allowed to call himself an “astronaut” on the ballot (Space.com)
If you won the lottery on Friday, what should you do? (WSJ)
Egypt candidate: Muslim Brotherhood’s Khairat al-Shater (BBC)
VIDEO: Mitt Romney’s staff play an April Fools joke on the candidate
Yesterday, Aung San Suu Kyi handily won a by-election for a seat in the Burmese Parliament. One could certainly argue that such a headline would have been inconceivable a year and a half ago. Lindsay Murdoch of the Sydney Morning Herald proclaimed, “There will be no silencing Suu Kyi.”
But make no mistake. Burma (or Myanmar - as it called by its military rulers) is still a dictatorship and dictatorships always operate arbitrarily and caprciously. There is nothing to stop the military junta from placing Suu Kyi back under house arrest be it tomorrow, next week, next month or next year. This is exactly what they will do if they believe she threatens their hold on power.
Don’t get me wrong. Her election yesterday was a significant achievement given that the deck was stacked against her. But caution is the operative word so long as her hard work can be wiped out on a whim.
1. In separate Sunday talk show appearances, Newt Gingrich affirmed that he would vote for the Republican nominee in the general election while Ron Paul was noncomittal. Paul said that he liked Mitt Romney personally and described him as a “dignified” person, they still had significant differences on important issues.
2. Paul also described his young supporters as the future of the party while his opponents were the past. Whether past or present, Romney would like to win those voters in November if he is the Republican nominee. A Reason-Rupe poll found that Paul could win a Ross Perot-like 17 percent of the vote as an independent. That’s unlikely, but there’s no guarantee Paul will endorse Romney and a slight chance he could back a third party candidate like Libertarian Party frontrunner Gary Johnson.
3. The Miami Herald has an interesting story suggesting that Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Paul Ryan have teamed up to stop Rick Santorum. The beneficiary would be Romney, who they worry will be weakened in the fall by continuing the primary campaign.
4. On Friday, I suggested that Ryan’s endorsement will give Romney a conservative agenda — in the form of the Ryan plan — to run on. Judging from the comments and subsequent posts, maybe it won’t help much among conservatives.
5. Gingrich, Paul, and Santorum have agreed to a Texas debate before the state’s Republican primary. Romney has yet to confirm whether he will attend.
6. A new USA Today/Gallup poll of voters in 12 swing states shows Obama beating Romney by 51 percent to 42 percent. The survey samples registered voters and shows women under 50 increasingly gravitating toward the president.
Paul Ryan endorsed Mitt Romney? Big surprise. The man wants to be vice president. Plus, he isn’t turned off by Romney’s support for TARP, because Ryan was for it, too.
Then again, maybe Romney should turn down the endorsement. After all, he has been running non-stop ads criticizing Rick Santorum for a few pro-union votes despite Santorum’s mere 13% rating from the AFL-CIO. If Romney hates all pro-union votes so much, surely he wouldn’t want to associate with a union lackey like Ryan, right? Remember Ryan voting for project labor agreements?
Of course, Ryan isn’t really a union lackey. Then again, neither is Santorum. But that doesn’t stop Romney’s cheap-shot ads.
At times, we owe it to ourselves to step back and appreciate just how lucky we are.
President Barack Obama is among history’s greatest leaders, and we’re blessed to have him.
Russia needed an advocate in the White House, after all.
In previous years, US presidents have represented US interests in negotiations with Moscow.
For once, we have a president who can show the kind of flexibility the Kremlin deserves.
Of course he can’t do that until he gets re-elected, but that’s a minor detail.
Obamacare, meanwhile, stands as a towering achievement that is unquestionably constitutional.
So let’s cut out the complaining and be thankful for what we’ve got, shall we?
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?