Archive for February, 2012

Santorum stoops to the Hitler allusion

Rick Santorum is now polling within the margin of error in Arizona, pulling 33 percent of the vote compared to Mitt Romney’s 36 percent. He is leading by more than 25 percentage points in delegate-rich Texas, with 45 percent compared to just 18 percent for second-place Newt Gingrich. In Ohio, Rasmussen puts the former Pennsylvania senator up by 18 points. He also remains up in the latest poll from Romney’s native state of Michigan.

And the latest out of Gallup gives Santorum a 10-point lead over Romney among Republican voters nationwide, a two-point increase in the rolling five-day average.

In an appearance before thousands of conservative Georgians at a mega-church in Cumming last night, Santorum warned his audience that the stakes in the 2012 election were high, and he employed a highly volatile historical metaphor in driving home that point:

“…. our closest ally Britain was being bombed and leveled, when Japan was spreading its cancer through Southeast Asia, and America sat …

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Why do female voters distrust the GOP? Some answers …

Mitt Romney says that he would support passage of a constitutional amendment stating that life begins at the moment of conception, a step that would not only bar abortion nationwide but would call into question the constitutionality of several widely accepted forms of contraception, including the IUD.

However, in typical Romney fashion, he also says that he believes the abortion issue should be decided at the state rather than federal level, which a constitutional amendment would preclude. So go figure.

His remaining opponents, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich, take that a step further, having signed the so-called “personhood” pledge stating that “all human beings at every stage of development are persons with the unalienable right to life.” Gingrich has taken that a step further, proposing that Congress can, by a simple act of legislation, decree that life begins at conception and that no federal court can review or overturn that finding.

As previously noted, …

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NASCAR bars the General Lee

File this one under “things I never thought I’d see….”

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) – NASCAR and track officials canceled plans to have pro golfer Bubba Watson drive the car from the television series The Dukes of Hazzard at Phoenix International Raceway because of concerns about a negative reaction to an image of the Confederate flag….

Watson was scheduled to drive the 1969 Dodge Charger, known as the “General Lee,” on a parade lap before the March 4 Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix.

“The image of the Confederate flag is not something that should play an official role in our sport as we continue to reach out to new fans and make NASCAR more inclusive,” NASCAR spokesman David Higdon said in a statement Friday.

– Jay Bookman

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An anthemic end to the week that was

Because sometimes, you know, you just have to go for it ….

… although I confess that everytime I hear this now, in my mind I see the hilarious head-bobbing scene in that AMC Pacer from Wayne’s World. Back in the day, I was a passenger in, or on occasion driver, of that car more often than I should admit, although for me it was a ‘68 Pontiac Bonneville with a 390-horse V-8 that could go w-aaaay too fast.

Anyway, here’s to rock n’ roll anthems.

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Of presidents, petroleum prices and gas pumps

Apparently, the word has gone out. With the economy having taken a turn for the better, Republicans need something else to blame on Barack Obama, and they’ve settled on the price of gasoline.

Fox News has taken up the story; Speaker John Boehner and others have echoed it as well. The theory seems to be that the rising price of oil internationally is President Obama’s fault, allegedly because he has blocked expanded oil production here at home.

In that place known as reality, the GOP theory has some fundamental problems. We can begin with the fact that oil produced in the United States must still be sold in the United States at world oil prices. There is no “hometown discount.”

If the world oil price doesn’t change, the domestic oil price doesn’t change. That’s just a fact, and short of nationalizing the American oil industry, you can’t change that fact.

Here’s another fact: no matter what the United States does — including drilling holes every hundred feet across the whole …

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Let’s get serious about ‘equality of opportunity’

In the United States, we have long taken pride in trying to provide equality of opportunity, if not outcome. Whether you come from a poor family or rich family, we have long believed that in America, hard work would be rewarded.

That’s no longer the case. Repeated studies have found that the United States now trails other countries, including much of Europe, in the ability to move up the economic ladder. We now rank with Great Britain as having one of the most rigid economic structures in the industrialized world, with decreasing economic mobility.

One explanation for that change is access to college, especially in a global economy in which education is critical. In a new study, researchers at the University of Michigan took a look at college completion rates across economic groups. For Americans born between 1979 and 1982, just 9 percent of those born into poor households finished college, while 54 percent of those born into the richest 20 percent of households completed …

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Good economic news continues to pour in

UPDATE at 11:52: CNN adds a fourth important component to the good economic news:

“NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — New home construction got off to a strong start for the year, with housing starts and building permits rising in January on a monthly and annual basis — another sign that the U.S. housing market and broader economy are headed in the right direction.

The Census Bureau reported that housing starts rose to an annual rate of 699,000, up 1.5% from December. Compared to a year ago, housing starts were almost 10% higher.”

———————

Three stories, all from the AP, all reporting significantly improved economic performance:

“DETROIT — General Motors earned its largest profit ever in 2011, two years after it nearly collapsed into financial ruin.

Strong sales in the U.S. and China helped the 103-year-old carmaker turn a profit of $7.6 billion, beating its old record of $6.7 billion in 1997 during the pickup truck and SUV boom.”

And:

“WASHINGTON — U.S. factories boosted output last month …

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Romney: ‘I’m from Wall Street, and I’m here to help’

Like Momma always warned you, you are judged by the company that you keep.

The thesis that Mitt Romney’s problem with voters can be explained by how much he exemplifies Wall Street and the financial industry in the public mind finds support in an odd source, a new study of corporate reputation released by Harris Interactive.

Each year, the company surveys 17,000 American consumers, asking them their opinions of corporate America in general and of the top 60 best-known companies. The two companies with the best reputations for 2012 are Apple and Google. Atlanta-based Coca-Cola is third.

Overall, however, the reputation of corporate America fell badly in the 2012 survey, after improving in 2011. Here are the five companies whose reputation suffered the most damage:
harris

Recognize a pattern? Four of the five companies whose reputation fell fastest are in the financial sector, and the fifth, Berkshire Hathaway, is closely identified with it.

Overall, Harris found that 70 percent of …

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Mitt’s monumental, perhaps insurmountable problem

At TalkingPointsMemo, Josh Marshall has posted an interactive version of the chart below, documenting the rather quick deterioration of Mitt Romney’s favorability index. (It’s a compendium of results from six different polls.)

romney

As Marshall puts it, “I don’t think many political observers would disagree that someone that far under water public opinion-wise is just not going to be elected president.” My own opinion is, that depends. I’d like to know a little more before reaching that conclusion.

In this case, I think it’s important to try to understand what may have driven that rather shocking rise in Romney’s unfavorable numbers. Was it a one-time event, a gaffe or something that might be overcome in time, or is it something more fundamental and difficult to shake?

Personally, I can’t think of any one news event substantial enough to have caused this dynamic. Romney hasn’t been hit with some major scandal; he hasn’t committed some monumental blunder that would explain what the …

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GOP follies continue with contraception issue

The U.S. Senate votes today on an amendment by U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, that not only exempts religious-affiliated institutions from having to cover contraception through health insurance but extends that exemption to any private business that questions contraception on “moral” grounds.

Politically, Republicans apparently believe they have a winner in the issue and a number of conservative pundits have encouraged them in that faith. But every poll I’ve seen tells quite a different story.

The most recent is a newly released CBS News/NY Times poll in which 65 percent of voters back the Obama administration’s requirement that birth-control costs be covered by health insurance. Fifty-nine percent believe that requirement should also apply to religiously affiliated employers.

And among Catholic voters, the ones supposedly so upset that their church’s religious liberty has been “attacked”?

“A new New York Times/CBS News poll has found that 57 percent of …

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