Archive for January, 2012

‘I’m Mitt from Bain, let me try to explain …’

Posted without further comment:

– Jay Bookman

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Even Rasmussen now has Obama surging

It may prove to be an aberration, but I see that even Rasmussen now has Barack Obama polling in positive numbers, with 51 percent of Americans approving of his performance as president and 48 percent disapproving.

That three-point approval margin is the largest reported by Rasmussen since October of 2009.

Gallup doesn’t show quite that amount of approval. In fact, Obama remains barely “underwater” in that poll, with 47 percent disapproval and 46 percent approval. But that’s a significant improvement over the 38 percent Gallup approval rating as recently as October 2011.


You can attribute that improvement to a variety of factors, among them a slowly improving economy, a new willingness by Obama to confront congressional Republicans, the fratricide of the Republican presidential primary and his commitment to a more populist economic message.

Of course, none of that guarantees re-election, although futures traders at Intrade also have Obama’s prospects brightening recently, with …

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In Florida primary, the margin will matter

With the voting booths scheduled to open tomorrow in Florida, pollsters are all over the place in their predictions about the outcome.

Everybody has Mitt Romney winning. The discrepancy is in the predicted margin, which matters in a primary.

A Suffolk University poll has Romney up by 20, 47 percent to 27 percent. A Quinnipiac poll puts Romney up by 14, 43 percent to 29 percent, up from a nine-point margin a week ago.

But Georgia-based InsiderAdvantage claims the Romney-Gingrich race is tightening, with Romney up by five percentage points, 36-31 percent. Matt Towery, InsiderAdvantage’s founder and owner, has ties to Gingrich, which might be cause for caution. But Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm, has it 39-32.

That’s a fairly wide spread this close to an election, which means somebody is going to have egg on their face when this is over. If the tighter projections prove valid, Gingrich has some justification for continuing to fight, perhaps all the way to the …

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What biology teaches about the GOP predicament

The biggest unanswered question revolving around the 2012 GOP presidential campaign is why?

Why is the field so lackluster? Why does it consist of Mitt Romney, a mediocre candidate whom much of the party continues to reject, running against a variety of unacceptable alternatives? I mean, when a man with as much baggage as Newt Gingrich remains viable this late in the process, it suggests a major leadership vacuum in the party.

As Democratic consultant Paul Begala writes today in the Daily Beast, “When I look at the economy, I think Obama can’t win, but when I look at the Republicans, I think he can’t lose.”


So what’s the explanation? Why, at a moment of great opportunity, has the party fielded such weak candidates?

To answer that question, it may be useful to import a concept from biology called “genetic diversity.” According to science, species that boast a wide range of genetic diversity, with a lot of variation, are generally healthier and more robust than species in …

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Newt vs. The GOP Establishment

Bob Dole, John McCain, Ann Coulter, Elliott Abrams, Tom DeLay, Charles Krauthammer … they’re all coming out with harsh and in some cases bitter attacks against Newt Gingrich.

I can only think of one explanation: They’re all liberals who are trying to sabotage the former speaker because they’re terrified at what Gingrich would do to President Obama in a debate. And they’re doing everything they can to prevent that calamity.

Chris Christie even called Newt “an embarrassment,” which inspired Sarah Palin to advise him not to “get your panties in a wad.”

But you know the Republican establishment is getting serious about taking down Gingrich when they bring out the big guns against him:


“Governor Romney is a man of faith, honor, love, and truth. These are the first very important qualities a president must have. He is strong, honest, and wants to bring the country back to its exceptional place, where we have been for hundreds and hundreds of years, until President Obama decided …

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Some Gershwin to see you home safely

The concept behind Friday Night Travelin’ Music has always been to provide an end-of-the-week way to wind down from the partisan debates and workplace stress. Thanks to a lot of you folks, it has evolved into something more than that, which is great.

But take a moment to really listen to this one, the great Marcus Roberts at the piano, with backing from an orchestra conducted by Seiji Osawa, taking on a thoroughly American classic. If it works on you as it works on me, it will take you to a quiet place within yourself and leave you refreshed, and that ain’t bad payment for a few minutes of your time.

It’ll be instant weekend.

– Jay Bookman

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When the bluster fades, this is Newt Gingrich


I didn’t watch last night’s umpteenth Republican presidential debate. I had a prior commitment with some poker-playing friends, although given the night’s outcome, watching the debate would have been a smarter financial option on my part.

By all accounts, Mitt Romney again took on the role of aggressor against Newt Gingrich, and Gingrich again shrank from the confrontation.

As Politico describes it
, Gingrich “simply seemed worn out and off point. Gone was the brawler who could whip up the crowd. And it’s not quite clear where he went… he did not seem to be enjoying the heat of battle as in past debates.”

At one point, Gingrich reportedly tried to rebut a Romney attack by complaining to Mitt that “you’re very quick to draw the widest possible exaggeration,” which is truly priceless considering the source. I’m sorry I missed that moment.

The Washington Post was no more kind in its after-action report, concluding that “Gingrich was just plain off his game … looked less …

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Some cold water on overheated birther-mania

Having done a little more research into the legal process, I want to try to clear up any confusion about yesterday’s birther hearing before we move on. And yes, we will move on quickly.

Under state law, Deputy Chief Judge Michael Malihi’s job was to gather the evidence in the case through the hearing process and then issue a recommendation on whether Barack Obama’s name should remain on the Georgia ballot. His role in the process was to serve as a fact-finder rather than final arbiter.

According to the birther movement,  Malihi told their lawyers during pre-hearing conference that he would enter a “default judgment” against Obama for refusing to appear and for refusing to even send lawyers to participate in the hearing, and that he would in fact recommend Obama’s removal.

I think that’s highly dubious. I know you will be shocked to hear this, but Orly Taitz and others have a record of claiming important legal victories that turn out to be inglorious defeats. Among other …

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Missives from the land of the birthers

I’m in the courtroom of Judge Michael Malihi, awaiting arguments in a case attempting to remove Barack Obama from the 2012 Georgia presidential ballot.

Roughly 100 people are in the courtroom, most of them older white Americans. The conversations are thick with various birthed theories being bandied about.

Dressed tastefully in black and wearing a pearl choker, The redoubtable Orly Taitz swept in a few minutes ago, making a star’s entrance amid whispers of “look, there she is!”

A bailiff has summoned attorneys for the plaintiffs and defendants into chambers for a pre-hearing conference. Since the Obama camp has decided to boycott the hearing, only the four plaintiffs’ attorneys, including Taitz, are in the session.

The plaintiffs have queued up a number of exhibits, including CBS and ABC videos reporting on Obama’s time in Indonesia. No sign of whether such exhibits will be allowed.

Can you clean up and post the below on my blog on an entry headlined “Missives ….?”

I’m in …

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House leaders try to squash ethics reform

Here’s how the scenario was supposed to play out:

State Rep. Tommy Smith, a Republican from Nicholls in southeast Georgia, was supposed to go to the House well Tuesday to announce introduction of a long-awaited ethics-reform bill,  which includes a $100 gift limit. Smith planned to use the occasion to invite fellow legislators to come to his desk on the House floor to sign on as co-sponsors of the legislation.

Never happened.

Despite a strong lobbying effort from the Tea Party and other conservative grassroots groups in favor of the bill, not a single one of Smith’s fellow Republicans was willing to defy House Speaker David Ralston by publicly supporting the legislation.

As a result, the public signing ceremony was canceled and the legislation was introduced later in the day without fanfare and with only one solitary Republican, Smith, listed as sponsor.

Officially, only one Democrat — state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver of Decatur — is listed as a co-sponsor, but there’s a story …

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