Monday Open Thread

Michael Rose (born 11 July 1957) is a Grammy award winning reggae singer from Jamaica. Possessing a wide-ranged voice, Rose would regularly meet in Kingston with singers, musicians, writers, and producers such as Dennis Brown, Big Youth, The Wailers, Gregory Isaacs, Sly and Robbie, and others.

Rose started his recording career as a solo artist for record producers Yabby You and Niney the Observer. He joined Black Uhuru in 1977 after the departure of Don Carlos and Garth Dennis. He led them to international success in the early 1980s, having written most of their popular material. They won the first-ever Grammy Award for reggae in 1985 for the album Anthem,[2] with the hallmark voice of Rose in the forefront.

About SouthernGirl2

A Native Texan who adores baby kittens, loves horses, rodeos, pomegranates, & collect Eagles. Enjoys politics, games shows, & dancing to all types of music. Loves discussing and learning about different cultures. A Phi Theta Kappa lifetime member with a passion for Social & Civil Justice.
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64 Responses to Monday Open Thread

  1. President Obama’s Bilateral Meeting with President Saakashvili of Georgia

  2. CNN Political Ticker @PoliticalTicker

    Carney throws RNC’s ship captain analogy overboard

  3. TerryMoran:

    Gingrich in FL: “I’m a little bit tired of respecting every other religion on the planet. I want them to start respecting OUR religions.”

  4. A Teachable Racial Moment: On Fingers Pointed in Black Faces


    So I thought that it might be time to write a Teachable Racial Moment post.

    Ok, here goes: If you are wise, you will not ever put your finger–or your whole hand– in a Black person’s face, unless you know you want to immediately engage in a knock down, drag out, fight-to-the-concrete physical brawl. It’s actually a well-known signal for “let’s fight right this moment” in the Black community.


      …otherwise, it will be on & poppin. No doubt about it!

      • rikyrah says:

        Ok, here goes: If you are wise, you will not ever put your finger–or your whole hand– in a Black person’s face, unless you know you want to immediately engage in a knock down, drag out, fight-to-the-concrete physical brawl. It’s actually a well-known signal for “let’s fight right this moment” in the Black community.

        TELL IT

        TELL IT

        TELL IT

  5. rikyrah says:

    Tea Party Group Wants To ‘Soften’ Slavery In Textbooks

    Some political groups are asking Tennessee lawmakers to re-write history, or at least how it is taught. Some members of the Tea Party say what’s in your kid’s textbook may be giving them a negative opinion about our nation’s founding history.

    What do you remember about American History class? Chances are you took away the basics; the birth of a democracy and a roller-coaster of ups-and-downs. But some Tea Party members say those basics are flawed when it comes to textbooks.

    “My biggest concern is that important information is being omitted, which creates a negative light on our Founding Fathers,” said Tea Party activist Brian Rieck.

    Many members of the group are asking Tennessee lawmakers to tweak textbooks so that doesn’t happen. Notably, they’re hoping to make changes in how slavery and encroachment on Native Americans are portrayed to students. “Slavery is of course portrayed in the textbooks nowadays I’m sure as a totally negative thing. Had there not been slavery in the South, the economy would’ve fallen,” Rieck said.

    Rieck told News 5 without offering that balance, the Founding Fathers, many of whom were slave owners, could be slighted for their contributions in the eyes of students.

    But when teaching her grandchildren about our past, Jackie Leonard says that’s not something that goes through the mind. “I think it was a bad thing, and I think that our children today need to know that,” said Leonard.

    It’s also a worry for educators like C.J. Manahan who teach from those textbooks. “I feel they do a pretty good job of presenting [history] objectively already,” said Manahan.

    Manahan, an eighth-grade American History teacher, tells us making these types of changes could send mixed signals on what it means to be an American. “We can’t create opinions from history. You know, [many Founding Fathers] were slaves owners, yes. That’s true, and if people choose to have an opinion of that being negative, that is their right. So, it’s not anybody’s place to decide what everyone’s opinions happen to be,” Manahan said.

  6. rikyrah says:

    How to Nurture the Press Corp
    by BooMan
    Mon Jan 30th, 2012 at 01:15:01 PM EST

    Any effort to explain media bias in favor or against any of the presidential candidates should really start with an examination of why, exactly, the Establishment press corp developed such a gargantuan man-crush on John McCain in 2000. I don’t know if I can provide a precise answer to that question. Part of it was that the press corp was, at that time, largely made up of men who had avoided military service in Vietnam. They seemed to get some kind of vicarious thrill out of McCain, who they constantly heralded as a ‘hero,’ even though his military service and career were the furthest thing from heroic. No one could dispute that McCain had suffered terribly while serving the country, and that was fetishized by a group of men who hadn’t suffered at all. So, that was the starting point. McCain was a real man. Bush and Gore were spoiled brats who only got where they were because of their daddies.
    But admiration for McCain and a certain sense of personal inadequacy only goes so far in explaining why the press corp fawned all over the senator from Arizona. Just as important, John McCain made himself extremely accessible. He traveled around in his Straight Talk Express bus and mingled freely with the reporters. He told bawdy jokes. He provided good quotes. He helped the reporters meet their deadlines and keep their editors happy. And he fed them well. He acted as if he liked the people covering his campaign, and maybe he did. The result was that reporters largely forgot that John McCain, too, only got where he was because of his daddy. They forgot that he had been even more of a spoiled brat than Gore and Bush before he wound up in the Hanoi Hilton. They didn’t talk about how many planes he had destroyed. They didn’t dwell on how close he came to being expelled from the Naval Academy or how he graduated near the bottom of his class. They didn’t talk about how he ditched his wife after she was disfigured in a car accident. They turned his ethical lapses in the Keating 5 scandal into a virtue that had launched his principled crusade to redeem himself.
    To summarize, the press saw in McCain someone who embodied the courage they lacked, who suffered while they were comfortable. They saw him as absurdly virtuous, which he was not. And they liked him. They were drawn to his personality and appreciated that McCain treated them well and made their jobs easier.
    In other words, there really wasn’t much of an ideological bias. Reporters didn’t like McCain because he was more or less conservative than Bush or Gore. They did like that he occasionally criticized his own party or took an unorthodox stand, but mainly because it allowed them to cast McCain as a “maverick.” McCain’s main asset with the press was his personal biography and his friendly and respectful accessibility.
    Compare that to Mitt Romney’s personal biography and his unfriendly, truculent inaccessibility. If you want to know why today’s press corp isn’t too keen on Mitt Romney, you don’t have to go as far as Joe Trippi. Yes, the press wants the contest to continue and they want to have some excitement, but the press isn’t just engaging in sensationalism.
    A bias that favors sensationalism is a bias that by definition favors Gingrich, who is sensational in every sense of the word. The kind way of describing this is to say that Newt is recognizably human: He is, as BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith puts it, “a flawed, interesting man with a story that includes success and failure.” A more colorful way is offered by the National Review’s Jim Geraghty: “He’s Rex Ryan, with an enormous ‘Can you believe what this guy said?’ factor in every appearance.” Or, perhaps even more apt, Gingrich is a candidate forever on the verge of spontaneous human combustion—and what reporter in his right mind would want to drive a guy like that out of the race any sooner than necessary?
    Trippi comes closer to the truth when he talks about Romney.

    Most plainly, there is the media’s antipathy to the kind of disciplined, unspontaneous, inaccessible campaign that Romney is running. Also to the fact that, hey, let’s face it, he’s not exactly a Roman candle of a candidate. Then there is the temperamental gorge that separates him from most journalists. “Reporters are the kids in the back of the classroom, throwing spitballs,” says Lewis. “McCain would be sitting back there, too, saying, ‘I’m not listening to this B.S.,’ and so would Gingrich. Romney is the guy sitting up in front, raising his hand to every question. Reporters listen to Arcade Fire; Romney listens to the Carpenters and Donny and Marie.”
    The suspicion of Romney is even deeper than that, however. Ever since his run in 2008, when his contortions on various issues earned him his reputation as an inveterate flip-flopper, the members of the media—and his rivals, then and today—have regarded him as a phony, his candidacy based on, as Smith puts it, “some really brittle half-truths about his consistency.” But now there is a creeping sense that he may be something worse; that on a range of issues, notably his finances, Romney is making claims that may be less than fully truthful.

    But, again, it’s not that Romney is a liar. Newt Gingrich may be the most accomplished liar in the entire country. Romney’s bigger problem is that he treats reporters as the enemy, denies them access, probably doesn’t feed them all that well, and doesn’t make their jobs easier. On top of that, the press corp can’t relate to his personal biography. They may have skipped the Vietnam War, but they didn’t do it knocking on doors in France as a Mormon missionary. They may admire personal wealth, but not really so much when the fortune is made as a vulture capitalist. And Romney doesn’t tell any bawdy jokes.
    The press may be pulling for Gingrich to stay in the race and do lasting damage to Romney, but it’s not because they like Gingrich or strictly because they want to sell papers or get page-views. They just don’t like Mitt. He’s given them no reason to like him.

  7. rikyrah says:

    By Ta-Nehisi Coates
    Jan 30 2012, 12:30 PM ET

    IV. Morality

    One rather unfortunate argument made to me, over the past few weeks, grudgingly acknowledges Ron Paul’s willingness to cover up his profligate race-baiting, as well as the foolishness of his claim that rich planters should have been financially compensated for trafficking children. The argument then pivots to note that such issues are ancient history and of little importance when weighed against the great present evil of our time–the drug war.

    I confess that I too get that old feeling in my leg when I hear Paul denounce both wars abroad and at home. Moreover, Paul does so with a kind of forthrightness and directness that you don’t really see among national politicians. The appeal is strong, invigorating, and should be acknowledged. I am not sure whether it is the shame of our politics, or the shame of our electorate, that such topics seem so off-limits and so off-stage.But the selective abandonment of uncomfortable history is neither a viable option for my tribe, nor is it particularly wise for the greater tribe which\believes our criminal justice system to be a great failure.

    It is often said that Americans aren’t interested in history, but I think it’s more accurate to say that people–in general–aren’t interested in history that makes them feel bad. We surely are interested in those points of history from which we are able to extract an easy national glory–our achievement of independence from the British, the battle of Gettysburg, our fight against Hitler, and even the campaign of nonviolence waged by Martin Luther King. For different reasons, each of these episodes can be fitted for digestibility. More importantly that can be easily deployed in service our various national uses. Thus it is not so much that we are against history, as we are in favor of a selective history. The fact is that Martin Luther King is useful to us, in a way that Bayard Rustin is not (yet.)

    Likewise, Ron Paul, and his followers are not against deploying history, so much as they are for deploying history in ways which advantages their candidate. When Paul invokes his own history of service to attack our wars abroad, no one says “That’s all ancient history.” The connection is obvious and advantageous. Paul’s own service gives his claims a kind of moral weight, that Newt Gingrich’s lack. Moreover, it buttresses Paul’s credibility in an effort to sway those who remain undecided. Of course a necessary truth, follows this line of reasoning: As sure as Paul’s service in the military lends respectability to the critique of our international wars, his service in the aims of white supremacy detract respectability from the critique of our national wars.

    Indeed, one of the quicker ways to delegitimize the critique of the War on Drugs, in the eyes of black people, would be making Ron Paul the prominent face of the movement. That black people even need to be swayed doesn’t seem to occur to Paul’s supporters who, admittedly, are unoriginal in viewing African-Americans as the slick paint-job on a pre-fab argument. But the fact is that black people are far from united in their feelings about the criminal justice system in general, and drug crimes in particular.

    A look at California, and the effort to legalize marijuana, is instructive. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, in the 25 counties of that state, blacks are arrested at “double, triple or even quadruple the rate of whites” for marijuana possession. Blacks make up less than 10 percent of L.A. county’s population, but they account for 30 percent of its marijuana arrests.It is unlikely that this arrest rate reflects usage, as government data has consistently found that young whites use marijuana at higher rates than young blacks.

    The effects are considerable:

    They go before a judge who tells them they have been charged with a misdemeanor, and that if they plead guilty they will be fined up to $100. The judges routinely recommend defendants waive their right to a trial. Most people, wanting to get released and put this experience behind them, accept this recommendation and plead guilty. Most people find the money to pay the fine and court costs and give it little thought until they apply for a job, apartment, student loan or school, and are turned down because a criminal background check reveals that they have been convicted of a “drug crime.”

    Twenty years ago, misdemeanor arrest and conviction records were papers kept in court storerooms and warehouses, often impossible to locate. Ten years ago they were computerized. Now they are instantly searchable on the Internet for $20 to $40 through commercial criminal-record database services. Employers, landlords, credit agencies, licensing boards for nurses and beauticians, schools, and banks now routinely search these databases for background checks on applicants. The stigma of criminal records can create barriers to employment and education for anyone, including whites and middle class people. Criminal drug arrest and conviction records can severely limit the life chances of the poor, the young, and especially young African Americans and Latinos.

    And yet, with this backdrop, efforts to decriminalize marijuana have only limited support in the black community. Last year, when activists in California attempted to legalize marijuana through Proposition 19, only 47 percent of the black community supported the measure. I find that unsurprising. Unfortunately, black people have disproportionate contact with crime and criminals. That contact often doesn’t breed sympathy, but severity. And as Adam Serwer once noted, it isn’t just true of marijuana:

  8. rikyrah says:

    The GOP’s Plan To Corner Obama On The Keystone Pipeline

    Republicans are pushing full speed ahead to authorize the Keystone XL pipeline via congressional action after President Obama rejected it on the grounds that the narrow time window he had was insufficient to evaluate the environmental consequences. The strategy is aimed at exploiting Democratic divisions and pushing Obama into a corner politically.

    Most Senate Republicans — along with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (WV) — are now backing legislation to approve of the Canada-to-Texas pipeline. House Republicans intend to attach it to their upcoming infrastructure bill, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said Sunday.

    Even if both chambers of Congress vote to approve the project, Obama can veto the legislation, and it’s unlikely he’ll get overridden. But that’s what Republicans want him to do: force him repeatedly to take a position against the pipeline so they can bludgeon him with it politically.

    Democrats argue that the debate largely ceased to be about the pipeline itself after Republicans demanded as part of last month’s payroll tax cut package that Obama make a decision on the project by late February. Even though Obama seemed to be leaning in its favor, he had said earlier that he needed more time to evaluate the environmental and health consequences. And so, his administration argued, the GOP essentially forced him to turn down the application from TransCanada.

    Republicans seemed all too aware of this possibility. “It’s a question of whether we’d rather have the pipeline or the issue,” a GOP aide said in December. Indeed, deferring a decision would have neutralized the politics surrounding the matter.

    But now Republicans have turned it into a weapon, and the politics are win-win for them. Their base overwhelmingly supports the pipeline and its capacity for job creation puts them on the right side of the most important issue on voters’ minds in this election year.

    For Democrats, the issue is a headache because their constituencies are split: environmentalists oppose it, while labor and big business have forged an unlikely alliance in its favor. The GOP push may not yield anything substantive, but it forces Obama to keep taking sides within his base, and answer to Republican attacks that he’s blocking a job creation opportunity.

    That’s why Republicans want to keep the Keystone issue atop the agenda for as long as possible.

  9. rikyrah says:

    Mitch Daniels Joins John Boehner’s Web Of Keystone XL Corruption

    It is common knowledge that Republicans engage in misinformation campaigns to curry favor with their supporters whether they are special interest groups, lobbyists, or ignorant Americans unwilling or unable to verify their favorite standard bearer’s statements. Over the past two or three months, Republican machinations to expedite construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline have tied the project to 160 million American’s payroll tax cut extension with fallacious job creation numbers and promises of lower gas prices to force President Obama to grant a construction permit. Speaker of the House John Boehner is TransCanada and the oil industry’s point man on the project and his persistence at parroting wildly inflated jobs numbers provoked a petition demanding his resignation or expulsion from Congress. Last Tuesday, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels joined Boehner in pushing the pipeline during Republican’s response to President Obama’s State of the Union address using anti-Obama rhetoric to enrich the oil industry and Canada’s tar sand industry.

    Daniels’ pernicious remarks are standard fare for Republicans seeking to portray the President as a detriment to economic growth, and he said President Obama’s extremism “cancels a perfectly safe pipeline that would employ tens of thousands,” and that his decision was a “pro-poverty agenda.” Besides Daniels’ programmed anti-Obama rhetoric, his remark about the pipeline’s safety and job creation numbers are false according to TransCanada and many independent agencies, but there is more to Daniels’ pack of lies that is stunning and warrants outrage from Indiana taxpayers.

    According to recent disclosures, Daniels is part of a concerted Republican effort to lobby Congress to push the tar sands pipeline through prime agricultural land and over the Ogallala Aquifer that supplies groundwater for 20% of America’s agriculture and drinking water for 2 million Americans. It is despicable that Daniels lied to Americans about the pipeline, but it is beyond the pale that his lobbying effort is being funded with Indiana resident’s tax dollars

    Think Progress reports that Indiana’s Washington D.C. representatives were paid with taxpayer dollars to lobby Congress during the fourth quarter of 2011 including “advocacy of the tar sands pipeline.” The Indiana Petroleum Council has pushed the Keystone XL pipeline even though it is unlikely that any Indiana residents will work on its construction. It is one thing to push the pipeline if it created jobs for Indiana residents and one would expect the state to actively lobby for any project to help the unemployed, but not only are there no jobs for Indiana residents, the pipeline does not even pass through Indiana. And yet Indiana taxpayer’s are funding the oil industry’s lobbying effort at a time when Governor Daniels and Republican state legislators have slashed spending for programs like Medicaid and most recently, full day kindergarten and the state fair. Apparently, for Daniels and Republicans in Indiana, it is better to spend tax dollars to enrich the oil industry than fund children’s health, higher education, and K-12 education that suffered Republican’s deep spending cuts.

  10. rikyrah says:

    I’m still not clear on why conservatives don’t want people voting early, yet they do want people voting absentee
    by Kay

    Sunshine in the sunshine state:

    Election experts and Democratic voting advocates told U.S. senators Friday that a Republican-backed overhaul of Florida election laws will suppress Democratic turnout in the nation’s biggest battleground state next fall.
    Democratic Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida and Dick Durbin of Illinois held a field hearing at the Hillsborough County Courthouse that drew a racially diverse crowd that at times resembled an orchestrated Democratic rally. In packed pews in a sixth-floor courtroom, people wore yellow stickers that read “Our voice, our vote” and hissed a witness who defended the law.
    Testimony centered on the most controversial changes: reducing early voting from 14 days to eight, from 96 hours to a minimum of 48, and ending it on the Saturday before the election; requiring third-party groups to register and face fines if they turn in voter registration forms after 48 hours; and requiring voters to cast provisional ballots if they moved from another county since they last voted if they did not update their addresses.
    Nearly 200 people attended the hearing and about 200 more watched on TV from a nearby room. The crowd erupted into loud applause when Durbin said: “There are people literally fighting and dying for the right to vote in countries like Syria, and we are finding ways to restrict the right to vote?”
    As the two-hour forum ended, Nelson said: “The rule of law has been assaulted in this state by this election law under the pretense of cutting down on election fraud.”

    I think these field hearings are a great idea. Part of the problem with conservatives changing voting requirements every twenty minutes is that voters don’t know that the rules have changed or what, exactly, the ever-changing rules now require. The more attention voter suppression laws get, the better. Targeted groups have to know they’re targeted before they can act to protect their right to vote.

    Nelson called this witness:

    University of Florida political science professor Daniel A. Smith will testify Friday before several U.S. senators about Florida’s new voting law.
    Smith was invited to the hearing by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights.
    The hearing, to be held in Tampa, will examine a Florida law that limits the time available for early voting, makes it more difficult for volunteer organizations to register voters and changes the cause for voters to cast provisional ballots.
    Smith was selected by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s office to “speak from an academic viewpoint, not an activist’s,” Smith said. Smith was chosen as a witness because of his work on Florida election law and voting behavior.
    Smith’s testimony will look at three features of the new law and how they potentially limit voting rights of Floridians.
    “The first is early voting. The new Florida law truncates the early voting period from a 14-day window to an eight-day window, and most importantly, it eliminates the final Sunday before Election Day,” Smith said.

    Early voting is popular with voters, yet Republicans are working hard all over the country to limit early voting. The crazed conservative assault on early voting makes even less sense than their other nonsensical, wholly imaginary claims re: voting, because there’s absolutely no difference between an early vote and an election day vote in terms of security or potential fraud. They don’t even have a remotely plausible storyline on Fox News on why we must limit early voting. They have nothing. People like early voting because it’s convenient. Conservatives oppose early voting because… well, we don’t know why conservatives oppose early voting.

    Smith and Michael Herron, a professor of government at Dartmouth College, matched the voter file from the 2008 general election with the early voting file from that election, identifying trends such as which ethnic, racial, gender, or age groups were more likely to vote early in 2008, and how the new law likely will affect them.
    Smith said they found African-American, Hispanic, youth, and first-time voters were much more likely to vote on the Sunday before the election.

    Oh. That explains it.

  11. rikyrah says:

    No need to fear zombie voters in South Carolina
    By Steve Benen – Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:23 AM EST.In light of the larger “war on voting,” South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson (R) raised a few eyebrows last week when he claimed over 900 dead people voted in the state’s Republican presidential primary. Wilson, of course, wasn’t alleging zombie voters, but rather, he believed he’d uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud.


    State Election Commission director Marci Andino testified that some of the voters the DMV data said were dead are very much alive — and were eligible to cast a ballot. […]

    In a news release that election agency spokesman Chris Whitmire handed out prior to the hearing, the agency disputed the claim that dead people had voted. One allegedly dead voter on the DMV’s list cast an absentee ballot before dying; another was the result of a poll worker mistakenly marking the voter as his deceased father; two were clerical errors resulting from stray marks on voter registration lists detected by a scanner; two others resulted from poll managers incorrectly marking the name of the voter in question instead of the voter above or below on the list.

    The attorney general’s office had only given the State Election Commission six names off its list of 950 or so names to examine. The agency found every one of them to be alive and otherwise eligible to vote, except for the one who had voted before dying.

    The odds are quite good that if Wilson’s office had been willing to subject its list to more scrutiny, we’d see even more debunking of the initial claim.

    As Kevin Drum explained over the weekend, “This is the story of voter fraud in a microcosm. Claims of fraudulent voting become urban legends practically before the first YouTube video goes up on someone’s website, but upon investigation the actual incidence of voter fraud turns out to be virtually nonexistent.”

    Quite right. In fact, the larger context here is critical: Republican officials in South Carolina are desperate to impose harsh new restrictions on voting, and are looking for real-world evidence to create a need for these curbs. Joan McCarter explained, “Remember, the Department of Justice has blocked South Carolina from implementing a voter ID bill passed last year under the Voting Rights Act, arguing that the new law would create an unconstitutional impediment to voting by certain groups.”

    GOP officials in the state hoped these new allegations of fraud would bolster their case. So far, this hasn’t turned out well for them.

  12. rikyrah says:

    January 30, 2012 1:56 PM

    Time For “Late Entry” Keeps On Slipping, Slipping
    By Ed Kilgore

    As is his habit, Davidson College’s Josh Putnam, proprietor of the invaluable Front Loading HQ website, has listened to all the idle talk of “late entry” presidential candidates and “brokered conventions” and looked at the facts. After tomorrow, he notes, the number of delegates available in states whose filing deadlines have not already passed drops to 1066, less than the 1144 necessary to win the nomination.

    Yes, some of these states have “uncommitted” ballot lines or allow write-in votes, and others where voting has already occurred will later name some delegates who are not legally bound to vote for the winner of the caucus or primary (e.g., Iowa). Stretching the definitions of “uncommitted” as far as he can, Josh identifies a maximum of 1768 delegates that could theoretically be picked up by a candidate not already in the field. But then he asks: who would that be?

    Who is the candidate who can not only successfully enter the race late, but who can also marshal the organization necessary to cobble together enough delegates to take the nomination or throw enough of a monkeywrench into the process and still maintain support in the party to win the nomination at the convention? Let’s think about this for a moment. There are people in this race now actively seeking the nomination (and who have been running for president for quite some time) who cannot get on the ballots in some states. And we are expecting someone to come in and immediately be able to beat these deadlines, organize write-in efforts and uncommitted slates of delegates to get within shouting distance of 1144 or a lower total held by the frontrunner.
    I apologize, folks. But I just don’t see it. There is no silver bullet. There is no white knight.

  13. rikyrah says:

    January 30, 2012 1:22 PM

    Contraception and “Religious Liberty”
    By Ed Kilgore

    It’s been underway for a good while now. But the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ offensive to label federal requirements that religiously affiliated non-church institutions offer coverage for contraceptive services in employee health plans as an assault on “religious liberty” gained steam yesterday as many priests around the country were required by their superiors to read statements from the pulpit on the subject.

    The Bishops’ specific complaint is that the “conscience” exception whereby churches are permitted to waive coverage of contraception for their employees has not been expanded to include affiliated institutions such as charities, hospitals and colleges. As Sarah Kliff explains at Wonkblog, states have adopted a range of “conscience” exceptions, mostly a bit more expansive than the current federal rule, but none as expansive as the Bishops would prefer.

    Many reproductive rights advocates have favored no exception at all, and there may be some merit to E.J. Dionne’s argument today that the administration has placed Catholic progressives on a bit of a slippery slope by trying to thread the needle with a relatively narrow exception.

    But step back from the specific dispute for a moment, and if nothing else, it should be clear that given the vast opposition of U.S. Catholics to the Church’s teachings on contraception and (to a lesser extent) abortion, the Bishops do not exactly come to the table with clean hands when it comes to its demands for “religious liberty.” Maybe they should choose another term.

  14. BREAKING: Sen. Whitehouse to introduce “Buffett Rule” to ensure millionaires pay at least a 30% tax rate

  15. Rep. Allen West – “Obama, Reid, Pelosi, get the hell out of the USA”

  16. Michelle Obama Launches Twitter Campaign To Get Jay Leno To Eat His Veggies

    Tonight Show host doesn’t like the First Lady’s favorite food group: “We’ll see about that!” Mrs. Obama tweets…
    “I don’t think I’ve had a vegetable since 1969,” comic Jay Leno told Parade magazine in 2006.

    “My mother gave up on trying to make me eat them.”

    Six years later, First Lady Michelle Obama is stepping in as Mom in Chief: She’s launched a Twitter campaign to get Leno to eat some vegetables onscreen when she joins him on Tuesday, Jan. 31 in his Burbank studio to film The Tonight Show. (At top: Mrs. Obama with Leno during a 2008 appearance)

    “.@JayLeno says he never eats vegetables…we’ll see about that! #LetsMove to get Jay to eat some veggies on #TheTonightShow on 1/31! -mo,” the First Lady tweeted on the Let’s Move! account.

    Mrs. Obama will promote the upcoming second anniversary of her campaign when she visits Leno, ahead of a three-day tour which kicks off on Feb. 9 with a visit to Des Moines, Iowa. Leno has not yet responded to Mrs. Obama’s tweet, but he’s been vocal about his love of unhealthy food, and jokes about it on his show. He’s never actually eaten a salad, he said.

    “I eat a lot of junk food like pizza hamburgers and hot dogs. When I have a soda, I have a soda — not a diet soda,” he told Parade.

    Leno has also joked about Let’s Move!. Last October, he aired a doctored video clip of Mrs. Obama punching out NBC’s Al Roker during an interview when they were discussing her efforts to get kids physically fit.

  17. rikyrah says:

    Valerie Jarrett Discusses President Obama’s State Of The Union Address, Gov. Jan Brewer

  18. rikyrah says:

    Gingrich rap song “Hoot for Newt”
    G-O-P presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has a new tool in his campaign chest.

    Supporters of the former House Speaker have created a rap song — titled “Hoot for Newt.”

    The song was presented to Gingrich during an appearance in Port Saint Lucie, Florida.

  19. Congress Taking Up Insider Trading Bill Within Hours

    WASHINGTON — Aware that most Americans would like to dump them all, members of Congress hope to regain some sense of trust by subjecting themselves to tougher penalties for insider trading and requiring they disclose stock transactions within 30 days.

    A procedural vote Monday would allow the Senate later this week to pass a bill prohibiting members of Congress from using nonpublic information for their own personal benefit or “tipping” others to inside information that they could trade on.

    Insider trading laws apply to all Americans, but CBS’ “60 Minutes” in November said members of Congress get a pass, citing investment transactions by party leaders and a committee chairman in businesses about to be affected by pending legislation.

  20. ‘Tea Party 10’ Targeted In Multimillion Dollar Campaign By Liberal Super PAC

    WASHINGTON — A liberal super PAC is set Monday to launch what it is billing as a multimillion dollar campaign to “Take Down the Tea Party Ten.”

    The effort by the progressive outfit CREDO aims to use the new big-spending super PAC model, which can accept unlimited donations, to back extensive local organizing and “education” aimed at defeating 10 members of Congress seen by the left as the worst of the worst.

    “We’re talking about some of the most odious members of Congress. Even for Republicans these guys are low,” said Campaign Manager Matthew “Mudcat” Arnold in a statement.

    “We’re going to empower local activists to organize their friends and neighbors to lay out the truth about their representatives in the most basic terms,” Arnold added. “They are anti-woman. They are anti-science. They are hypocritical, bigoted, and have said and done things that are downright crazy. They’ve done more to embarrass their constituents than they have to govern or work toward solutions. They are unfit for Congress, and we’re going to help their constituents hold them accountable.”

  21. rikyrah says:

    Ex-RNC chief rips current chairman for comments on Obama
    By Geneva Sands-Sadowitz – 01/30/12 09:14 AM ET

    Former head of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele ripped his successor, current RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, on Monday for comparing President Obama to the Italian cruise ship captain who allegedly abandoned ship and has been arrested on multiple charges.

    “I think it’s an unfortunate analogy. I mean, people died in that situation,” Steele said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday in Florida.

    On CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Priebus referred to President Obama as “Capt. Schettino.”

    “We’re going to talk about our own little Capt. Schettino, which is President Obama, who’s abandoning the ship here in the United States and is more interested in campaigning than doing his job as president,” Priebus said.

    Francesco Schettino was the captain of the Costa Concordia, the cruise ship that ran aground and partially sank off the coast of Italy earlier this month, killing at least 16 people.

    Steele, an MSNBC political analyst, was also critical of the RNC’s effectiveness, saying the committee “dropped the ball” when it came to reaching out to voters.

    “The reality of it is the RNC, the party has got to come to the country with a message. They haven’t done that. They dropped the ball,” Steele said.

  22. Jason E. Taylor @SupportYourPrez

    #Fact: the day of #PBO inauguration he started receiving record threats on his life; how could policy be the reason on day 1?

  23. rikyrah says:

    Why Mitch McConnell should avoid discussing the debt
    By Steve Benen – Mon Jan 30, 2012 9:29 AM EST.

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was asked about an extension of the payroll tax break yesterday, but instead of answering the question, the Republican changed the subject. The subject on McConnell’s mind was the debt.

    “We have this problem at the risk of being repetitious, because we spend way too much. We now have a debt the size of our economy. We look a lot like Greece. We’re heading toward western Europe. If you want to see what happens, just look across the Atlantic. That’s the direction we’re headed in.

    “Under this administration, we’ve run the national debt up 43 percent in just three years.”

    McConnell first started equating the U.S. and Greece last summer, and the argument is not improving with age.

    In every meaningful way, the comparison is just silly. The U.S. has extremely low interest rates and foreign investors are happy to loan us money; Greece has extremely high interest rates and no one is eager to loan the country money. The U.S. has its own currency; Greece has the Euro. We have a manageable debt; Greece has a debt crisis. We’re a large country with an enormous economy; Greece is a small country with a small economy. We have one of the world’s most stable systems of government (at least for now); Greece’s government structure is suspect.

    For a leading senator to tell a national television audience that the United States looks “a lot like Greece” is a clear reminder: McConnell is not to be taken seriously on these issues.

    Incidentally, there’s also the matter of McConnell’s credibility on fiscal issues, or in his case, the lack thereof. The Republican leader voted for the Bush tax cuts, and added the costs to the national debt. He voted to finance the war in Afghanistan by adding the costs to the national debt. McConnell voted to put the costs of the war in Iraq onto the national debt. He supported a massive expansion of the government’s role in health care (Medicare Part D) and voted to pile all of its costs right onto the national debt. The GOP leader even backed the Wall Street bailout and added the bill to the national debt.

    Perhaps Mitch McConnell should choose something else to complain about.

  24. Think Progress:

    The U.S. Defense Department cannot account for about $2 billion it was given to cover Iraq-related expenses in 2004

  25. HuffPost Politics @HuffPostPol:

    ‘Birther queen’ looks to Rep. Allen West to be a congressional surrogate for the birther movement

  26. Gingrich Wants Kids To Work As Janitors, But Refused To Work Himself

    Newt Gingrich has made headlines and raised eyebrows on the campaign trail for proposing to make poor children work as janitors in their school, saying it would help them understand the value of work and money.

    But apparently, even on child janitorial work, Gingrich is employing a double standard. As Karen Tumulty notes, in a 1995 Vanity Fair profile, Gingrich seemed to refuse to get a job as a student. From the profile:

    Newt, who avoided Vietnam with student and marriage deferments, resisted taking a job. During his college years, Newt called up his father and stepmother to ask for financial help. His stepmother, Marcella McPherson, can still hear his exact words: “I do not want to go to work. I want all my time for my studies…Bob Gingrich told me he will not help me one bit. So I wondered, would you people help me?” Big Newt began sending him monthly checks.

    Dolores Adamson, Gingrich’s district administrator from 1978 to 1983, remembers, “Jackie [Gingrich’s first wife] put him all the way through school. All the way through the P.h.D…He didn’t work.” Adds Adamson, “Personal funds have never meant anything to him. He’s worse than a six-year-old trying to keep his bank balance…Jackie did that.”

  27. Obama Campaign: GOP Rhetoric ‘Sealed Political Fate’ With Hispanics

    As the Florida primary hurtles to a close tomorrow, President Obama’s re-election campaign is claiming an early victory: the loyalty of a strong majority of Hispanics, including swing voters disgusted by the GOP candidates’ rhetoric on immigration.

    “Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich may very well have already sealed the political fate of their party with the Hispanic electorate — the fastest growing voting bloc in the country,” Obama for America Hispanic pollster Sergio Bendixen and spokeswoman Gabriela Domenzain wrote in a memo to reporters Monday.

    “Their extreme rhetoric on immigration during the televised debates has rejected our history as a nation of immigrants and alienated millions of Hispanic voters nationally,” they said.

    The memo calls Romney’s vocal opposition to the DREAM Act, which he’s described as a “handout,” a “demagogic appeal to Tea Party voters.” 85 percent of Hispanic voters support the measure, according to a new Univision/Latino Decisions poll.

    It also cites Gingrich’s 2007 comment on Spanish as “the language of living in a ghetto” — resurfaced by Romney in a 2012 campaign ad — as “offensive on face value.” The former House speaker made the remark while promoting bilingual education.

    Polls show that Hispanic voters – a reliably Democratic voting bloc — are turned off by harsh primary season rhetoric on immigration and remain strongly supportive of Obama in Florida and nationwide.

  28. rikyrah says:

    President Obama Calls Out Mike Lee’s Scorched Earth Obstructionism
    By Ian Millhiser on Jan 30, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Last week, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) announced he would take revenge for President Obama’s decision to make four recess appointments by engaging in a scorched earth campaign of obstruction against the president’s nominees. In his weekly address this weekend, Obama punched back:

    Just two days ago, a senator from Utah promised to obstruct every single American I appoint to a judgeship or public service position – unless I fire the consumer watchdog I put in place to protect the American people from financial schemes or malpractice.

    For the most part, it’s not that this senator thinks these nominees are unqualified. In fact, all of the judicial nominees being blocked have bipartisan support. And almost 90 percent have unanimous support from the Judiciary Committee.

    Instead, one of his aides told reporters that the senator plans to, and I’m quoting here, “Delay and slow the process in order to get the President’s attention.”

    Lee is, in many ways, the perfect foil to the president. While Obama wants nothing more than for the Senate to consider his nominees in a timely manner and give them an up or down vote, Lee’s short political career is marred by escalating displays of extremism and embarrassing overreach. A sample of Lee’s beliefs include:

  29. rikyrah says:

    What Rubio doesn’t understand about the economy
    By Steve Benen – Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:39 AM EST.Sen. Marco Rubio (R) of Florida delivered his party’s weekly address on Saturday morning, and made a provocative claim about President Obama.

    “The bottom line is this president inherited a country with serious problems,” Rubio said. “He asked the Congress to give him the stimulus and Obamacare to fix it. The Democrats in Congress gave it to him. And not only did it not work, it made everything worse.”

    Rubio didn’t specify what “everything” includes, which is a shame for a couple of reasons.

    The first is that the senator’s claim is strongly at odds with Mitt Romney’s message. The likely Republican presidential nominee has said, consistently and frequently in recent weeks, that that the U.S. economy is improving under President Obama. To be sure, the former governor doesn’t believe Obama deserves credit for these developments, but Romney has nevertheless said, over and over again, that the economy is “getting better.”

    This, in turn, makes Rubio’s argument problematic. GOP leaders can argue the economy has gotten better, or they can argue the economy has gotten worse, but they can’t argue both at the same time.

    The second problem that undermines Rubio’s claim is reality, which points in the opposite direction.

    Here’s a chart, for example, showing private-sector job totals by month since the start of the Great Recession, with red columns showing the months when George W. Bush was president and the blue columns showing the Obama era. The “A” marks where we were when Obama took office, and the “B” marks were we are now.

    For Rubio’s argument to make sense, Americans would have to believe that “A,” when the economy was hemorrhaging jobs, is better than “B,” with an economy that’s adding hundreds of thousands of jobs.

    Here’s another chart, showing economic growth by quarter since the start of the recession. Again, the “A” marks where we were when Obama took office, and the “B” marks were we are now.

    When Rubio argues the president’s agenda “made everything worse,” he apparently wants voters to think “A,” when the economy was shrinking, is preferable to “B,” which points to a growing economy.

    Perhaps Rubio wasn’t talking about jobs or the economy? It’s possible, but it’s also unclear what he might have been referring to. The U.S. auto industry was on the verge of collapse, and now it’s starting to thrive. Al Qaeda was growing, and now its leadership has been largely decimated. Even the major stock market indexes have seen considerable improvements in recent years.

    Marco Rubio doesn’t have to like the progress, but he should at least try to tell the truth about it.

  30. rikyrah says:

    January 30, 2012 8:57 AM

    Bottom Falls Out for Newt
    By Ed Kilgore

    As tomorrow’s Florida primary grows imminent, Newt Gingrich’s luck seems finally to have run out. Every available bit of polling data shows a strong trend in favor of Mitt Romney in the Sunshine State. Nate Silver’s fairly conservative projections now indicate a 13-point win for Romney.

    Aside from Gingrich’s bad debate performances in Florida, which undermined the very rationale of his candidacy, and the pounding he’s been getting from conservative opinion-leaders as well as “Republican Establishment” types, his financial disadvantage is worse than was originally advertised. An estimate widely circulated over the weekend suggests that Team Gingrich has invested a total of $3.3 million in Florida ads (well short of the $6 million that Super-PAC Winning Our Future earlier claimed it had bought) through tomorrow, as compared to well over $15 million for Mitt and friends.

    The one bright spot for Gingrich over the weekend was a late endorsement from Herman Cain (which probably surprised those who misunderstood Cain’s 2008 endorsement of then-movement-conservative-candidate Mitt Romney as indicating a preference for Mitt this year). Apart from giving late-night comics a lot of cheap material about the solidarity of hound dogs on the campaign trail, the endorsement probably just means that if Newt surives until the March 6 Georgia primary, a loss to Romney there really could mean the end.

    The most amusing meme of the weekend was the spate of stories questioning exactly how angry or crazy Newt actually is, given his predictable promise to stay in the race for months and months. I dunno: he has a long history of saying irresponsible things and then turning to the nearest observer—often one of the “liberal media” people he has just attacked—to ask how well he pulled it off. He easily could vow to plunge the Republican Party to the bottom of hell before giving up—and then the next minute endorse Mitt and head off with Callista for another Mediterranean cruise.

    So whatever dramatics Gingrich stages today or tomorrow in Florida, or tomorrow night when he gets crushed, it’s worth remembering the man thinks he’s Winston Churchill, and will eventually be called to lead America even if he’s as old as Ron Paul. In the mean time, there is money to be made.

  31. rikyrah says:

    John Boehner Admits That Keystone XL Won’t Create 100,000 Jobs
    The pressure may be getting to John Boehner, as the Speaker made a subtle change to his story today that served as an admission that Keystone XL won’t create 100,000 jobs.

    Here is the (apparently partial) video from ABC’s This Week

    During the interview Boehner was also asked about Keystone XL. According to ABC News, he said, “Now that the president has decided for political reasons that we’re not going to move ahead just yet, not until after the election… we’re going to have to find another way to lean on the Senate, to take this issue up, because the Keystone pipeline will create … over 100,000 indirect jobs.”

    This is not the same thing that John Boehner said eleven days ago before the president announced he was not going to approve the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, “This is not good for our country,” he continued. “The president wants to put this off until it’s convenient for him to make a decision. That means after the next election. The fact is the American people are asking the question right now: Where are the jobs? The president’s got an opportunity to create 100,000 new jobs almost immediately. The president should say yes.”

    One week ago on Fox News Sunday, Boehner started to sing a slightly different song, “The Keystone pipeline is the prime example of a shovel-ready project that’s been through every approval process here in Washington. Every option is on the table. We’re going to do everything we can to try to make sure that this Keystone pipeline is, in fact, approved. It’s 20,000 direct jobs. It’s over 100,000 indirect jobs. And as more energy independence for America as opposed to forcing our friends across the border in Canada to run a pipeline out to the Pacific Ocean and sell it to the Chinese.”

  32. rikyrah says:

    found this comment over at Balloon Juice:

    12.jl – January 30, 2012 | 2:16 am · Link

    I think Romney’s ratings will dive as more people are exposed to his style. As I said before, he comes off as a bad swindler breaking out in a flop sweat and getting angry with the mark who doesn’t quite believe the pitch.

    Most successful politicians are good orators. Take your FDR, your Reagan, your Clinton, our Obama.

    Willard is more like a hectorator.

    You can see him going ‘Aw hector, I don’t think they believe this BS’ inside his head. And he comes off like he is trying to intimidate and threaten, in his manner and subtext.

    I think that is because that is what he was trained to do as a take over artist at Bain. After the deal closes, you have them by their money, and you can start intimidating, with a smile. I think Romney has internalized that down into his bones. He cannot ‘maintain’ all the way to the election. His limbic reflex center tells him that the deal should be closed by now and he can start with the heavy manners on the marks, who can’t do much. But long election campaigns do not work that way. The deal is closed after election day.

  33. rikyrah says:

    Sunday, January 29, 2012
    Weezing The Juice
    Posted by Zandar

    Orange Julius begins the 2012 election year hostage-taking in earnest by playing Keystone XL Or Nothing with the next round of jobs and infrastructure legislation, including the payroll tax cut that will expire next month.

    House GOP leaders are preparing to release a top Boehner priority: Legislation that would generate revenue for improving the nation’s aging infrastructure through expanding domestic energy production.

    “If it’s not enacted before we take up the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, it’ll be part of it,” Boehner said of the Keystone pipeline bill on ABC’s “This Week.”

    Some Republicans also want the Keystone pipeline to be part of a final deal to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits. Democratic leaders oppose its inclusion, and a Boehner spokesman said that would be decided by members of the House-Senate conference committee.

    On the payroll tax, Boehner said he was “confident that we’ll be able to resolve this fairly quickly.” The tax cut and unemployment benefits expire at the end of February.

    The message is clear: Boehner and his energy company cronies will get the pipeline, or middle-class America gets a spear to the guts during an election year. Why is the Keystone XL pipeline Orange Julius’s hill to die on? Perhaps it’s because the House Speaker has substantial investments in several Canadian tar sands firms that would greatly benefit from the deal, and Boehner will directly benefit from it if it’s passed. And by doing so, he may have broken SEC rules by lying about the numbers:

    It is an ethics violation for elected officials to use their political office to perform official acts on behalf of special interests, and particularly when special interests are campaign donors. There is also a serious problem when a sitting congressional representative performs official acts for personal financial profit by promoting a project the representative has a financial stake in. The problem becomes egregious when the elected official lies about a project to profit himself and campaign donors and our current Speaker of the House has taken those issues a step farther. On Thursday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) received a complaint from an environmental group with accusations that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline’s owners (TransCanada) are in violation of SEC Rule 10b(5) – Employment of Manipulative and Deceptive Practices to bolster stock prices.

    The complaint sent to the SEC said TransCanada is using “false or misleading statements about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline” and that they “consistently used public statements and information it knows are false in a concerted effort to secure permitting approval of Keystone XL from the U.S. government.” The complaint continues that the fallacious information misleads investors, U.S. and Canadian officials, the media, and the public “in order to bolster its balance sheets and share price,” and who is the point-man pushing the Keystone XL pipeline with lies and misinformation? Speaker of the House John Boehner.

    Republicans, including Boehner, have greatly inflated the jobs numbers that the pipeline would create. The actual number of permanent jobs created as determined by the State Department? Twenty. Not twenty thousand. Twenty. The share price of those companies went up because the Republicans made false statements, and Boehner will profit personally if the project is approved.

    You don’t get much more crooked than that

  34. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    January 30, 2012 8:05 AM

    It’s “Death of Bipartisanship” Monday!

    By Ed Kilgore

    Facebook Twitter Digg Reddit StumbleUpon Delicious

    Presumably spurred by a Gallup analysis on Friday of partisan splits in approval ratings of recent U.S. presidents, both Politico (John Harris and Jonathan Allen) and WaPo’s The Fix (Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake) devoted top billing this morning to an effort to dash any remaining hopes of bipartisan action on the nation’s major challenges before 2013 at the earliest.

    This rather banal realization is interesting primarily because it has emerged from the Beltway redoubt of those most likely to harbor the illusion that Great Big Adults in both parties ought to be able to get together and cut deals that can then be sold to the rubes around the country as representing a victory for their team.

    While both articles appear to assume that Barack Obama has been the last person in DC to “get” that partisan and ideological polarization has grown to the point where decisive elections are necessary to get much of anything done, it’s the WaPo piece that follows Gallup in implying that Obama himself is responsible for hyper-polarization. Cillizza and Blake do at least cite the Gallup data showing that George W. Bush actually presided over the highest levels of polarization yet recorded (in his fourth, fifth and six years in office). Harris and Allen go a bit deeper, quoting University of Georgia political scientist Keith Poole in citing radicalization of the Republican Party as being the most important source of polarization:

    “The Republican Party has been steadily moving to the right since the 1970s,” Poole said. “The Republicans have moved about three times the speed to the right as the Democrats have moved to the left.”
    Neither article quite gets around to mentioning the relatively low odds for a galvanizing 2012 election that produces some sort of mandate, or the institutional barriers to governing that became so apparent when Democratic struggled to enact an agenda after their 2008 across-the-board victory.

    But it is nice to see that the illusion of easy bipartisanship is now largely limited to Americans Elect supporters who somehow think partisans are preventing the American people from embracing by acclamation an agenda of wildly unpopular “entitlement reforms” and tax increases.

  35. rikyrah says:

    Reasonable, Sane Newt Should Keep Fighting
    by mistermix

    John Heilemann’s piece, Newt May Be Mad and Mental Enough to Fight On Long After Florida is at the top of Memeorandum today:

    And what of Gingrich’s pledge to carry on his crusade all the way to Tampa? That’s takeaway number three. Pledges to continue the fight unabated in the face of harsh and/or humiliating outcomes are staples of presidential campaigns. And they are also patently meaningless. […] But in Gingrich’s case, he might be serious, so much has he come to despise Romney and the Republican Establishment that has brought down on him a twenty-ton shithammer in Florida, and so convinced is he of his own Churchillian greatness and world-historical destiny. The same antic, manic, lunatic bloody-mindedness that has made him such a rotten candidate in the Sunshine State may be enough to keep him the race a good long time.

    Waging a protracted battle would likely be an act of futility for Gingrich, but it could turn out to be something much worse for Romney. That is why it’s so important for the latter not just to win on Tuesday but to win big — very big. And that, in turn, is why the matter of margins will be the topic of tomorrow’s column.

    If we take a look at the current delegate count, note that Florida is one of the states that gets a 50% penalty because they scheduled their primary too early, and also note that Florida is probably winner take all, the best that Romney can do is to leave that state leading Newt 44-23. No matter how you count it, and that count depends on whether you think the 50% penalty will stick, the winner will need well over 1,100 delegates to win the nomination, and nothing near that number will be awarded until “Super Tuesday”, March 6, where 466 delegates are at stake.

    February will be ugly for Newt, with Nevada and Maine (Feb 4), Colorado and Minnesota (Feb 7), Arizona and Michigan (Feb 28) all looking better for Romney, since most those states either have lots of Mormons (Nevada, Colorado and Arizona) or some other tie to Mitt (Michigan has the George Romney connection and Maine is near Massachusetts). But the rule in the Republican Party is proportional delegate allotment unless your state gets special dispensation, so Newt should be able to pick up some of the 187 delegates at stake in those races. There are only four more Republican debates scheduled, and three of them will happen before Super Tuesday, so the notion that Romney will just stop coming to debates ignores the reality of the primary schedule.

    Newt would be insane not to stick around until at least Super Tuesday, and Mitt isn’t going to be able to evade his punishment in the debates. Any reporter telling you that it’s only Newt’s “bloody mindedness” keeping him in the race isn’t looking at the delegate math or the debate schedule—they’re just indulging in horserace confabulation.

  36. Obama: The most polarizing president. Ever.

    President Obama ran — and won — in 2008 on the idea of uniting the country. But, each of his first three years in office have marked historic highs in political polarization, with Democrats largely approving of him and Republicans deeply disapproving.

    For 2011, Obama’s third year in office, an average of 80 percent of Democrats approved of the job he was doing in Gallup tracking polls, as compared to 12 percent of Republicans who felt the same way. That’s a 68-point partisan gap, the highest for any president’s third year in office — ever. (The previous high was George W. Bush in 2007, when he had a 59 percent difference in job approval ratings.)

    In 2010, the partisan gap between how Obama was viewed by Democrats versus Republicans stood at 68 percent; in 2009, it was 65 percent. Both were the highest marks ever for a president’s second and first years in office, respectively.

    What do those numbers tell us? Put simply: that the country is hardening along more and more strict partisan lines.

  37. U.S President Barack Obama (2nd R), First Lady Michelle Obama (C) and daughters Sasha (L) and Malia (R) visit the Corcoran Gallery of Art on January 29, 20123 in Washington, D.C. The museum is currently presenting a show called ’30 Americans’ featuring the work of 31 African American artists.

  38. Caroline Kennedy Endorses President Obama

    Four years ago today, I joined my Uncle Teddy and thousands of excited students at American University to endorse Barack Obama as the next president of the United States.

    Barack Obama had stirred something in young people and the young at heart. I saw the passion in my own teenage children, and I heard it from a different generation of people who said they felt like they did when my father ran for president.

    We felt strongly that we needed to elect a president who urged us to believe in ourselves, who could tie that belief to our highest ideals, and who understood that together we can do great things.

    Four years later, as I think about what first inspired me to support Barack Obama, I’m proud we have a president who has fought hard for the values Teddy held dear, and stood up on issues that matter.

    Will you join me by saying what first inspired you to stand with Barack Obama?

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