Wednesday, February 29, 2012

All Eyes on Super Tuesday

Upcoming Republican Primaries-

Saturday, March 3- 
Washington State, 43 delegates, proportional
Latest poll 2/19, Santorum 38%, Romney 27%, Paul 15%, Gingrich 12%

"Super Tuesday," March 6-
Alaska- 27 delegates, proportional (caucus)

Georgia- 76 delegates, proportional
Latest poll 2/26, Gingrich 34%, Santorum 25%, Romney 21.5%, Paul 8.8%

Idaho- 32 delegates, proportional (caucus)

Massachusetts- 41 delegates, proportional

North Dakota- 28 delegates, proportional

Ohio- 66 delegates, proportional
Latest poll 2/26- Santorum 37%, Romney 26%, Gingrich 16%, Paul 11%
Noteworthy, Santorum has only had the lead in Ohio for 2 weeks. At the end of January he had less than 10%. Romney has maintained about 20-25% there consistently for several months.

Oklahoma- 43 delegates, proportional

Tennessee- 58 delegates, proportional

Vermont- 17 delegates, proportional

Virginia- 49 delegates, proportional
Only Romney and Paul are on the VA ballot, because the other two candidates failed to meet requirements. Romney leads currently with 53%, Paul 23%. Write-in votes are not allowed.

Saturday, March 10-
Guam- 9 delegates, proportional

Kansas- 40 delegates, proportional

Northern Mariana- 9 delegates, proportional

Virgin Islands- 9 delegates, proportional

Wyoming- 29, proportional (ongoing now-March 10)

That is 576 delegates up for grabs over the next 10 days!

Biased much?

One of the best cases I have ever seen of media bias against a candidate-

This is the headline for the Yahoo news coverage of last night's two state win for Mitt Romney.
Since when was having more delegates than the other three candidates combined "battered, bruised, and limping?"

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Live Blogging (and Tweeting) the Arizona and Michigan Returns

I am the Swing State Voter

I will be live blogging and tweeting throughout the night during the Arizona and Michigan returns. This will be best read from the bottom up. I will update from the top, pushing older comments down. And I will put timestamps in as often as possible.

10:18- CNN waited until Santorum started getting boring before interrupting. They have now called it for Romney as well! WOOHOO! 
41% Romney
37% Santorum
12% Paul
7% Gingrich
There will still be some questions about delegates later because they follow the congressional districts.

10:14- Looks like NBC is calling it first- for Romney in Michigan! (They interrupted Santorum speech to do it.) I wonder if CNN is just being polite to Santorum and waiting a few minutes to call it themselves? Or are they just not ready yet?

10:05- just to build on my question about how many Democrats voted for Santorum versus Catholics-
Again, basic math of 100
9 Democrats voted total, of which 4.77 voted for Santorum.
22 Republicans voted for Santorum.
And 10 Independents.
That's not a good sign.
It really is looking like it will come down to about 4-5% difference in who wins. That 9% may actually make a difference, but not enough of one!

9:58- Sounds like we may be minutes away from Michigan getting called for Romney!
Meanwhile- the exit polls on religion in Michigan.
Again using very basic math on 100 people.
39 voters were white evangelicals, of which 19.5 voted for Santorum.
61 were not white evangelicals (the question not being answered if this is where Catholics would identify, but we'll assume that they would)- and 26 of them voted with Romney, and 18 for Santorum. Again, it does not look like Santorum attracted the conservative Catholic vote he was angling for.

9:50- Food for thought- something to follow up on later tonight. Rumors are coming in that Santorum lost the Catholic vote in both AZ and MI. If it is true that more Catholics voted for Romney, and Santorum's robocall strategy really has brought out several thousand Democrats, that means Santorum may very well have more Dems voting for him than his own target audience.

9:40- The question has been asked multiple times over the last few days what it means if Romney loses Michigan. I want to address that question right now while we still don't know which way MI will go.
It will mean nothing. It will be a little bee sting to the campaign, and give talking heads something to talk about. Because what would they talk about if he won? The only reason it is an issue at all is because Gingrich is trying to make it one. Gingrich who is so far behind in most states that he's hanging out in Georgia, his home state, speaking at the college he used to teach at. Georgia with its 76 proportional delegates. It's Gingrich's only chance to catch up with Santorum. He is the one making the claims that it is an insult not to win your home state, because it is his home state that is his last chance to win something. And he knows both Santorum and Romney have fierce battles in their home states.
But does it matter? No. No matter who wins- Santorum or Romney- it is going to be very, very close, and it is proportional. There is a good chance that the winner will only walk away with 3 more delegates than the other one. And Romney just won 29 delegates in AZ tonight. Just as a reminder, Gingrich only has 35 delegates total.
So if Romney doesn't win, what happens is that Gingrich has something to harp on for one week. And that is pretty much it.

9:25- For all those people who claim that Romney won Arizona because it is so heavily Mormon, please see the Exit/Entrance polls at CNN.

Let's use basic math and pretend only 100 people voted.
That would mean-
14.8 Protestants voted for Romney, 12.2 voted for Santorum
7.38 Catholics voted for Romney, 6.3 voted for Santorum
12.74 Mormons voted for Romney, 2.8 voted for Santorum
6.12 "other Christians" voted for Romney, 6.66 voted for Santorum

In other words, Romney did not win because of the Mormon vote. 28.3 of the 41 votes (so, more than half) were not Mormon. He would have won without those votes!

9:20- According to The Fix Twitter feed- Santorum is winning self identified Democrats in Michigan by a 3-1 margin over Romney and Paul, according to exits.

9:03- Arizona is a winner-take-all state. That brings Romney up to 135 delegates.

9:02- Michigan update now has Romney at 41% and Santorum at 39%. Still only 19% of the votes in. This is going to be a very long night. (Oh and Ron Paul at 11% and Gingrich with 6%!!!)

9:01- All polls closed in AZ and MI. And as the polls close, CNN calls it for Romney in Arizona with 44%, Santorum 27%, Gingrich 16%, Paul 11%.

9:00- With 14% of the votes in from Michigan: Santorum 40%, Romney 39%, Paul 11%, Gingrich 7%.

8:30-  It is already a nail-biter in Michigan. Romney was leading for the past hour (1% reporting), and now it is Santorum ahead by about 600 votes (6% reporting).

6:30- CNN is already saying that Michigan will be very close, and to expect it to be a very late night. I'm prepared!

In every primary everywhere there are always rumors that the other party has been infiltrating the polls to cast protest votes. When I worked at the South Carolina campaign office we had a lot of very concerned citizens calling in to say they had "seen Democrats" at the polls. Whether or not that sort of thing is ever true or something to be worried about, we'll never really know. But today we have a very different story with the Santorum campaign actually sending out robocalls to Democrats encouraging them to come out and vote for Santorum in protest of Romney. These aren't even PAC robocalls- they are actually from the real campaign. That is just a crazy, gutsy move. CNN is already showing that 10% of voters in Michigan have been Democrats today. (That is not the same as saying 10% of Democrats voted for Santorum, but you know that won't stop the crazies from saying it that way later.)

Michigan Primary Scorecard

Washington Post's The Fix has a very useful scorecard for understanding Michigan tonight. You can score 2012 Mitt against 2008 Mitt.
I'll be periodically blogging throughout the returns tonight. I look forward to using the scorecard.

Should a POTUS be just like the common man?

Forgive me as today I go off completely on a personal musing. While I never apologize for my bias on this site, I normally stick to events or news as a topic. But today I'd like to just think aloud as it were. I'm not going to condemn or condone Mitt Romney today, but instead, just analyze him from a distance.
I've noticed in the past the media calling upon Romney to own up to his wealth, and to not act like he's not a wealthy man. They have asked him on multiple times to be more genuine, and say he has a connectivity problem. Even as a Romney supporter I have noticed this as well. There is always that question of when he is going to let loose and just be a regular guy. I'm wondering why this is so important to voters. Do we have to identify with the President? Why do we feel this need for him to be our best friend? I think part of it, a large part of it, comes from Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and now President Obama. Clinton really changed the face of the presidency with his southern drawl, aw shucks personality, and approachable style. Even as his weaknesses were exposed during the scandals, it made him less elite, more normal. If he could reach the presidency beginning with his humble footsteps out of Hope, AR, anybody could. He clicked and connected with middle America. George W. Bush obviously ascended with a legacy. But again, many people identified with the father-son legacy, and that made people like him. And maybe he wasn't the guy next door, and he sure made a lot of gaffes, but, who hasn't said few dozen stupid things in their lifetime? Again, his weaknesses subconsciously made people like him. And then there is Obama who pretty much runs on the common man platform. He drinks beer, goes to his kids' basketball games, and his wife is photographed at Target. People identify with him.
And then there is Mitt Romney with his wealth of millions, perfect wife, perfect sons, and perfect hair. People don't identify with him, or at least, very few people do. There isn't a story line there to grab on to.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Week of February 27- Arizona and Michigan Polls

It is time to take one last look at the Arizona and Michigan polls before the primaries on Tuesday.

Going in alphabetical order, we'll start with Arizona. I've learned my lesson with saying things like "Romney has it all locked up," but in this case, he might. It is hard to imagine that Romney doesn't win in Arizona. 

Michigan is still anybody's ballgame. Romney's current lead is just too close to call, especially with a new poll coming in saying that Santorum has a 4 point lead. My guess is that we are in for another late night of election returns coming right down to the wire- and a temper tantrum, insult, and lack of a congratulatory call from Gingrich.

James Carville wrote a very interesting opinion piece for CNN this week that almost calls into question his sanity. If I am reading it right, he actually implies that Santorum could win in Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. Specifically he said, "And Mitt is your only hope because Santorum is going to be part of a seven-state strategy. He can carry Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, and Oklahoma. That's about it." It is a poorly worded statement, leaving it open to the possibility that maybe he means Romney. But if he really does think that Santorum will even get one vote in Utah, he's absolutely crazy. I know I've complained more than once about people assuming all Mormons will vote for Romney. But come on, you don't really think the man that has actually insulted Mormons is going to beat a Mormon in Utah do you? And I say that as a former recent resident of Utah. (Otherwise, great article!)

Polls taken from Real Clear Politics.

Rick Santorum on Separation of Church and State

Former senator Rick Santorum has done it again. He's taken his inability to separate his politics from his religious beliefs to a whole new level. Last October he addressed an audience at the College of Saint Mary Magdalen in Warner, N.H., where he brought up J.F.K.’s famous 1960 address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association. (link will take you to full transcript of JFK speech) At the time Santorum said, “Earlier in my political career, I had the opportunity to read the speech, and I almost threw up. You should read the speech.”
When Kennedy gave that speech there was a great deal of concern during the campaign season that he would be taking orders from the Vatican, or forcing Catholicism on all Americans. The speech was a major turning point in his campaign, thanks in large part to the following quote. 

“I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him."
It is a little shocking that Santorum is choosing to insult the speech, rather than echo it.

On Sunday, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Santorum whether he stood by his statement last year. Santorum's response-
“The first line, first substantive line in the speech, says, ‘I believe in America where the separation of church and state is absolute.’ I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country.”
Even when referencing a famous historical speech, Santorum has a frightening habit of taking things out of context, inserting new meaning, and acting upon it. Santorum went on to say that the First Amendment
“says the free exercise of religion — that means bringing everybody, people of faith and no faith, into the public square. Kennedy for the first time articulated the vision saying, ‘No, faith is not allowed in the public square. I will keep it separate.’ Go on and read the speech. ‘I will have nothing to do with faith. I won’t consult with people of faith.’ It was an absolutist doctrine that was abhorrent at the time of 1960... To say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes you throw up. What kind of country do we live that says only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case? That makes me throw up.”
Woah, wait, where did Kennedy say he would not consult with people of faith? 
To say that Kennedy was saying that people of faith have no role in the public square is an extreme stretch. What Kennedy did say was, "where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials;"

Whether conservative or liberal, Kennedy's speech is enlightened and inspiring, unless your intent and belief is that church's should have more power over the government. There is nothing in the speech that indicates that religious beliefs should be withheld from voters or activists. In fact, Kennedy bravely remarks,
"But if the time should ever come — and I do not concede any conflict to be even remotely possible — when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office; and I hope any conscientious public servant would do the same." 

It does not blatantly say that he would choose to follow his religious beliefs over politics, but it does allow one to interpret that he may do so, and vice versa.
It is bothersome that Santorum would find this speech so offensive and disgusting. It leaves one to question his own motives and approach, especially in light of Mitt Romney's 2008 speech that addressed religion. (full text of Romney Religion Speech). Romney's speech was compared many times to the Kennedy speech. Santorum's comments and lack of further clarification leave just enough room open for interpretation as to leave one wondering if he would put his religious ideals above the interests of the country. Or does he not see a situation where his religious beliefs may not be in the best interest of the country?
In his speech, Romney said,
"As governor, I tried to do the right as best I knew it, serving the law and answering to the Constitution. I did not confuse the particular teachings of my church with the obligations of the office and of the Constitution – and of course, I would not do so as President. I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law.
"As a young man, Lincoln described what he called America's 'political religion' – the commitment to defend the rule of law and the Constitution. When I place my hand on the Bible and take the oath of office, that oath becomes my highest promise to God. If I am fortunate to become your president, I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause, and no one interest. A President must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States."There are some for whom these commitments are not enough. They would prefer it if I would simply distance myself from my religion, say that it is more a tradition than my personal conviction, or disavow one or another of its precepts. That I will not do. I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers – I will be true to them and to my beliefs."
Perhaps it is time for Santorum to either come out and say that yes, he is completely governed by his religious beliefs, or not. He alone has brought his religion into the campaign, and it is time for him to make it clear where he stands on the separation of church and state. Is his ultimate goal to bring in so many of his own religious and moral beliefs that the church would lead the state?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Contraception Controversy Spelled Out

I can't even believe I am writing about contraception for a blog on politics. But nonetheless, here I am. I'm not going to point fingers at the candidates on who has said what about contraception. I'm just going to get down to specifics on what voters really need to understand on the topic.

Contraception is not always cheap. If you have insurance it may still not be cheap.

Contraception (and we use this term to mean the hormonal therapies available specifically to women) can be used for much more than birth control, as it is often prescribed for actual illnesses that effect women.

Contraception is available to every woman in the United States as of this moment, even if minivan-driving soccer moms aren't willing to drive to their inner-city clinic to ask for it. Don't believe me? 33.5% of Planned Parenthood's services are for contraception.

In this new contraception debate, voters need to get off the moral issues surrounding contraception. The questions they need to be asking are far more simple-

Are you the type of person who believes that the government should provide services to individuals?


Are you the type of person who does not want the government involved in pricing and services, and wants to see businesses provide affordable products?


Are you the type of person who believes that the government should forces businesses to provide certain services?


Are you the type of person who can't answer those questions, but when you find yourself in trouble, you get mad that the government doesn't have an obvious solution for you?

Right now people are focusing on the wrong issues (the moral side of the question). It isn't a moral issue. And it also isn't about a woman's right to choose this time around (even if a lot of people are discussing it as if it is). The question at the end of the day is whether or not you are the type of person who wants the government to make it happen, or you believe the government needs to get out of business.

The Obama policy as recently enacted is flat-out about the government making a business do something. You either like that or you don't. Take the “moral” contraception part out of the equation, and insert in any other numbers of scenarios, and use the same, equivalent argument.

Should the government force businesses to provide employees with fuel for their cars? After all, the employee works there, and has a car, and therefore should use it and be expected to use it! It is the employee's RIGHT to have a car and to drive it! The employee has the RIGHT to free gas!

What? You don't like that example. It is too impersonal? Okay, we'll use one a little more closely related.

Should the government “require” (it sounds so much nicer than “force,” doesn't it? But really, it is the same thing.) businesses to provide free drug addiction rehab services to employees? After all, by current definitions drug addictions are not the fault of the abuser. If it isn't the person's fault that they are addicted (except that they took drugs in the first place) (yes, there are exceptions to this rule for prescription addictions versus illegal drugs, see below), don't they have the RIGHT to free care?

Apparently we have become a country that no longer believes in personal accountability. Shouldn't the person be at fault for taking an illegal drug in the first place? Where is the accountability for that?

It is the same exactly thing with contraception. Either the woman is accountable for her own choices and body, or she is not. As stated earlier, yes, contraception is used for more than just birth control. It is used for many illnesses, and no one can help whether or not they have most medical conditions. This is where and why the need for a defining line on birth control for contraceptive purposes versus hormonal treatment for medical conditions must be drawn.

Where is the accountability? It is a woman's right to choose what she does with her body. Shouldn't she also be accountable for her choices? Why should the American taxpayer and/or her employer be accountable for her choices?

The precedent set by the government requiring businesses to offer contraception options to employees could have very negative effects. The drug addiction scenario is very real. The gas for cars? Not as immediate and realistic, but still a future possibility. (How many employees already expect commuting stipends and parking spots? Is this really that much of a stretch?)

All of this does beg the question over and over, why stop at contraception? Why only contraception? If the argument is that birth control is for more than preventing unwanted pregnancies, because it helps with illnesses too, why are we not forcing employers to provide complete coverage for terminal illnesses, diabetes, asthma, etc? Individuals are obviously not at fault for getting cancer or diabetes, so why aren't we forcing companies to pay for them? Why are we forcing them to pay for something there is actual personal accountability for?

Is the price of contraception expensive? It can be. Is the price of an unwanted or unexpected pregnancy expensive? Yes, even more so. But is that the government's problem? Or should voters be putting the pressure on businesses to lower the prices? Or should voters be putting the pressure on the government to create a business climate that allows businesses the lower prices?

The current political question is not about the morality of contraception. The real current question is about whether or not you believe the government should force a business to provide an offering to employees?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I watch the CNN debate so you don't have to!

I'm back! With another round of "I watch the debates so you don't have to!"

The first hour recap-
The "table method" of having everyone sit next to each other is definitely blocking a little bit of the physical posturing. 
Romney - I'm going to take programs that are important but that could be better run at state level, and send them back to states. 
Ron Paul calls Santorum a fake conservative issues. 

The most interesting thing I have learned so far is that Santorum is so passionate on abstinence/birth control issues that he wanted to pass legislation to pass federal funding for teaching abstinence to counteract Title 10 Planned Parenthood legislation. Ron Paul, of course, is against spending money period, but he makes the point that Santorum voted for Title 10. Santorum was willing to pay twice for social programs, rather than not vote for the first one (Planned Parenthood) at all. Santorum loses big time on the fiscally conservative count, and backs up Paul's "fake" label.

Second hour-
Heading in to the second hour we're discussing both birth control and apparently Romneycare/Obamacare. 
Santorum still lacks finesse at debating. He's bringing his A-game tonight, but he lacks the ability to regulate his emotions and channel his energy. (something Romney has perfected, and Gingrich exploits). 
Romney says Santorum supporting Arlen Specter led to ObamaCare.  He supported Specter over the Republican Toomey.
Santorum says he supported Specter because he thought Toomey was too conservative to win. Umm...
Apparently Gingrich still doesn't have an angle except for dropping Reagan's name. To which, I'd like to remind everyone what it is Gingrich has said about Reagan.

Ooh, after the commercial the candidate get to define themselves using one word. What word would you pick? I'm sure they are all scrambling to find a synonym for conservative right now. I would pick-
Newt- Grandiose. 
What I think he will pick- Leader
Romney- business leader
What I think he will pick- Leader
Santorum- moral extremist
What I think he will pick- Conservative (he's not creative enough to find a different word)
Ron Paul- crack pot
What I think he will pick- liberty activist (because he won't play by rules)

Their actual answers- Paul: Consistent 
Santorum: Courage 
Romney: Resolute. 
Gingrich: Cheerful.
I spit out my drink when he said cheerful. 

From Twitter, Ralph Reed says "Good, spirited debate. Best by Mitt yet. Santorum folded contraception Q into broader need to strengthen the family. Well done.

It absolutely kills me that women in combat is even an issue. I am 100% in favor of women being equal with men in combat. If men have a problem with that, fine, they can quit and let the women take over. 

How out of touch with social media is Rick Santorum? Well, he still has his endorsement of Specter up on youtube -

And we've moved on to Iran.
Santorum's stance- take the opposite view of VP Biden.
Romney- We simply cannot allow Iran to have nuclear weapons. No greater obama failure than this.
Paul- We don't know if they really have a weapon.
UM??? You mean other than them showing the footage this week of Mahmoud looking at the technology???

No Child Left Behind Act Question-
Santorum voted for it. However, his answer explaining why (party politics dictated that he should). But why he doesn't believe in it now was a believable answer. He gets a pass from me (and a flipflop), but the audience boos. The reaction here sets apart anyone who has actually worked in real politics versus the armchair quarterbacks. If you've worked on the Hill, you understand where Santorum is coming from on this one. NCLB passed by a majority because the party leader said so. Before it got passed though nobody liked the final product because both sides put in too many caveats and regulations. It was not the bill the POTUS started with or wanted. But no one could back out by then. Santorum may very well have never believed in it (we'll never know), but had to vote for it, because as he said, "politics is a team sport." Boo if you want, but if you've worked in the real trenches, you know what he means.

The Twitter feedback really looks like people feel Santorum didn't do his best tonight, and that Romney has really made a comeback.
I'm looking forward to the AC360 recap after the debate to see what the "experts" think. 

What to Expect from the GOP Debate Tonight in Arizona

The view from my seat at the SC GOP debate

We've had 3 weeks and 6 beautiful days between GOP debates, but that all changes tonight when John King and Wolf Blitzer take to the CNN stage again.
A lot has changed in the last four weeks. First and foremost, Rick Santorum grew a spine, and Newt Gingrich drifted off into irrelevancy. Mitt Romney has lost his favored status, and Ron Paul continues to be, well, Ron Paul.
Tonight the candidates won't be trying to appeal to just one state, but instead will be trying to appeal to both Arizona and Michigan- two very different states, with very different issues. On top of that, there won't be another debate before the real Super Tuesday next week. So chances are good we won't see pandering to any one state like we did with Gingrich and the moon colony in Florida.
Rick Santorum has the most to lose tonight. He has been running on a social conservative platform since day one. And now, he's finally turned the tide and made everyone else talk about it too. But considering the extremist views he has, the real question is how long can that last?
Santorum has not performed well in any of the debates so far. He hasn't performed badly, he just has failed to connect or make an impact. And because debating hasn't been his strong suit, expect both Romney and Gingrich to capitalize on that.
If it is Santorum that wins, it will be considered Romney that lost. Romney absolutely has to connect with the voters, and he needs to re-establish his Superman-bullet-deflecting-Teflon-armor persona where the attacks just bounce off of him. I predict we will not see Romney engage with Santorum or vice versa. Both will go after Obama instead. Gingrich, as always, will be the wild card. Will he attack Romney and Santorum, or go after Obama? If he goes after Obama, we may be in for one really dull debate where no one is willing to confront each other. But Romney and Santorum would both be wise to take on Gingrich if he's not too much of a loose cannon. Taking on each other is too risky and admits the other is the competition. Shutting Gingrich up just makes people like you more.
Gingrich has everything at stake. If there is anything we have learned in the last 4 weeks it is that he fails to be relevant or interesting if he's not fighting on stage. I expect he will come out swinging, and that we may see the return of Grandiose Newt tonight. Some would suggest that he would be up for an image change right now. Gingrich doesn't do that, he refuses to change. He will definitely be the unknown factor tonight.
Ron Paul- why does he even show up at these things?
Some interesting other notes-
Tonight the debate will be held at a desk and everyone will be sitting. This may put a small damper on Gingrich's literal posturing and strutting.
The debate is being held in Mesa, Arizona, a VERY Mormon friendly town, on a Catholic holy day. It will be interesting to see how religious attitudes effect the proceedings.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dow Reaches 13,000

When not writing about politics here, I am a paid blogger for a major publication on the stock market. (You can read what I write about that here.) As a result, I pay pretty close attention to the economy, jobs reports, the Dow Industrial, and money. Anyone who pays close attention to the stock market can tell you right now that the economy is most definitely on the upswing. And today the Dow has reached the 13,000 mark for the first time since May 2008. (If you're one of the many who has no idea what that all really means, just take it on good authority that it is a very good thing for the economy.)

This landmark event is undeniable evidence that the economy is turning around. This is going to make it very difficult for the Republicans to fight Obama on the economy. And Mitt Romney will suffer from it the most since his entire campaign has been about how he is the man to fix the economy. Maybe it is good news for Romney then that Rick Santorum is doing everything in his power to make the primaries about extreme moral issues. It won't be hard for Romney to stop talking about economy when he has no choice but to address social issues.

Monday, February 20, 2012

One week till Arizona/Michigan- a look at the polls


Arizona and Michigan hold their primaries next Tuesday, February 28. Here is a quick look at the polls in those states. Mitt Romney has a very modest lead in Arizona, with Rick Santorum as the strongest challenger. Just last week the story was that Romney faced big challenges in Michigan and Arizona, and that it was Newt Gingrich who was focusing on Arizona. Now? Well, I'm sure Gingrich will let us know that he had no such intentions of going after the state that has 29 winner-take-all delegates, and it was all just media tripe.
The delegate count currently stands at-

Romney- 106
Santorum- 37
Gingrich- 35
Paul- 27
(These numbers can change depending on how you count superdelegates and the non-binding caucus states. Today I am using the CNN delegate counter because it seems most logical. The numbers do change a tiny bit, putting Gingrich 1 vote ahead of Santorum, if you use the Republican Party Scorecard.)

Arizona's 29 winner-take-all votes could make a massive difference in Santorum's ability to go forward. But can Santorum really beat Romney in the very Mormon state? To get an idea of just how many Mormons really are in Arizona, take a look at's Mormon Population Map. I normally get angry when people suggest that all Mormons vote the same and vote for Romney just because he is Mormon. And I still do take offense at that remark. We're not lemmings. However, I don't think many Mormons will vote for Santorum because of his extremist views that go beyond what most socially conservative Mormons believe in. In my opinion, it isn't that they will "vote Mormon" as much as it is they won't "vote Santorum."

Now, on to Michigan, Romney's native state.
Santorum has the lead there, but again, only a modest lead. It isn't strong enough to say he's got a foothold there. With another major debate going down on Wednesday (really, CNN? Another one?) things are definitely still up for grabs in both states.
Nonetheless, Gingrich (who let's remember is losing 35 to 106) is calling for Romney to step down if he can't win his home state. Insert Charlie Brown "good grief" here.
Michigan is a proportional state with 30 delegates. If things were to divide up the way the polls show right now, it still wouldn't put Santorum anywhere near within striking distance of Romney. They would both walk away with somewhere between 9-12 delegates each.

Meanwhile, the national GOP polls still look like a scary mountain range. Too many peaks, valleys, avalanches, and long roads up. This week Santorum's brown line is on the vertical ascent, and Gingrich's green line is headed for the avalanche.And Romney is still riding around a few knobs and hills, but he hasn't fallen off a cliff yet. Ron Paul is still just Ron Paul.
We'll revisit the national polls after AZ/MI next week.

"Gingrich assumed that he's the whole Republican Party"

ronald reagan newt gingrich
Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich

I'm not going to pretend that if I was a college student in one of Professor Newt Gingrich's classes, I'd be one of the first to drop out. I would recognize his brilliance, but have to admit that I couldn't follow him when he says things like, "The Reagan failure was to grossly undervalue the centrality of government as the organizing mechanism for reinforcing societal behavior." After reading it ten times to make sure I understood the words correctly, I would still be confused because why would a conservative Republican be criticizing someone who didn't want the government to control societal behavior?

Gingrich is a very complex, confusing, and at times, flat out contradictory man, which is showcased in a unique and fascinating way in a headline story on the Washington Post today. "Gingrich archives show his public praise, private criticism of Reagan," is about much more than his back and forth statements about Reagan, and instead a glimpse into what kind of man he is behind the scenes.

After statements like, "Gingrich “assumed that he’s the whole Republican Party," "That is my job. . . . It is not my job to win reelection. It is not my job to take care of passport problems. It is not my job to get a bill through Congress. My job description as I have defined it is to save Western civilization.," and "And Republican leaders who were resisting additional funds for science, he said, were “idiots” and “so incredibly stupid," you start to wonder if Gingrich suffers from a several case of narcissistic personality disorder.

But above all, this very interesting article isn't actually negative. It is just a look into a very complex man. Well worth the read!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Newt: Do as I say, NOT as I do!

Today's Golden Flip Flop Award Goes to Newt!

Newt Gingrich has a bad case of "do as I say, but not as I do."
His campaign has been sending out letters to TV stations warning them against airing a commercial paid for by a super PAC supporting Mitt Romney that make Gingrich look bad. According to the letter, the campaign claims the ad is "fundamentally NOT TRUE."
Whether or not a political attack ad is wording things in such a way as to bend, meld, or spin the truth is not the point here. 
The point?

Newt doesn't like it when someone attacks him and he can't (afford to) rebut it! And he really hates it when someone uses his track record against him.
So what is the big bad ad Newt doesn't want you to see?

Is it really all that bad?
Or is it as he says "fundamentally not true?"
Let's take a look-
The ad states that Gingrich co-sponsored a 1989 bill called the "Global Warming Prevention Act," with  Nancy Pelosi "that would have given $60 million a year to a U.N. program supporting China's brutal one-child policy."
The bill was introduced while Gingrich was in office, but it never passed. The bill was never about China's one child policy. As the title states, it was a bill about global warming measures, including fuel standards for cars and alternative energy, and sending money developing countries to promote clean energy standards.
The bill also proposed sending money to the U.N. Population Fund, some of which would go to China, but the bill specifically stated that no funds should go towards backing involuntary sterilization, abortion, or family planning coercion (in other words, China's birth control policies).
Gingrich did co-sponsor the bill with Pelosi. 144 House members who also sponsored the bill, according to PolitiFact. Considering that is nearly half the House, it is surprising the bill never passed.
The Gingrich camp is calling this ad libelous and false. And is threatening to sue the stations for defamation if they do air it.
Pretty tough words for a man who's own PAC ran this ad-

Really what it comes down to is Newt's trying to get some attention, because everyone has forgotten him and moved on lately. He's attempting to do something shocking and daring again, and it probably won't work. It will most likely backfire, even if the stations do remove the ad, as people go to YouTube to see what it is all about. And then the news channels will be forced to run a story, showing the ad, talking about whether or not it was true. Sure, Romney won't look good either, but does Newt really want the climate and Pelosi issues to come back up?
Maybe he does, because in Newt's world, there is no such thing as bad publicity.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Mitt Romney May Lose Maine After All (Is Ron Paul a Hypocrite?)

Ron Paul Refuses to Concede Maine (Photo Source: Info Wars)

As if the debacle in Iowa wasn't bad enough, Maine is now bungling the system too. And Ron Paul supporters are calling for blood!

Here are the facts.

Maine is a non-binding caucus state, and allows the individual caucuses within the state to vote during the course of one week (Feb 4-11). There are roughly 505 municipalities in Maine, and 420 of them caucused. However, there is a catch. Some caucuses, for whatever reason, choose to hold their event outside of that one week. Their votes do not get counted in the early non-binding caucus. So why they hold them at all, is a bit of a mystery.
On February 11, Washington County, one of the largest caucuses, was supposed to hold their meeting. But, due to an unexpected snowstorm it got canceled and rescheduled. (Really? Maine wasn't prepared for a snowstorm? Isn't that the one thing they do in Maine?) As a result, they are now outside of the allowed window, and their caucus won't be counted in the non-binding results!
Mitt Romney won the Maine caucus with 39%, just 3 percent more than Ron Paul's 36%. That was less than 200 votes between them!
Ron Paul’s campaign called the exclusion of Washington County’s results “inexplicable.” Naturally they think that because they believe they have a stronghold in Washington County. Would they be crying foul if Romney had the lead there?
“Paul performed well throughout the state, although his campaign’s stronghold of Washington County did not report today for inexplicable reasons,” according to a statement released by the campaign.
Maybe by "inexplicable reasons," they mean the fact that Maine wasn't prepared for a snow storm??
The campaign released a scathing email to supporters, using typical Paul rhetoric.
“In Washington County – where Ron Paul was incredibly strong – the caucus was delayed until next week just so the votes wouldn’t be reported by the national media today. That’s right. A prediction of 3-4 inches – that turned into nothing more than a dusting – was enough for a local GOP official to postpone the caucuses just so the results wouldn’t be reported tonight.

“Just the votes of Washington County would have been enough to put us over the top. This is an outrage. But our campaign is in this race to win, and will stay in it to the very end."
So let's get this straight, Ron Paul's camp is mad that the county so supposedly heavy in his favor, chose not to vote, citing snow- the one great export of Maine- as their reason, knowing that their votes would not count if they didn't vote that night? Did they not care enough to make the effort to brave the elements to exercise their rights to vote? Mr. Paul, I'd hardly call those "Liberty Activists!"
Here's the thing, Ron Paul didn't do well in the 2008 elections in Washington County, and only 118 votes were cast in that county at all. Even if all 118 people showed up to caucus this time, it still wouldn't be enough for Ron Paul to win! And oh yeah, this was a non-binding caucus!
Is this even a reasonable demand? Or do we even expect Ron Paul to be reasonable anymore? No? I didn't think so.
But, popular news site Politico has obtained an email from a source inside the Maine GOP that suggests there is a recount underway. But it doesn't indicate whether or not Washington County will retroactively get included in last week's results.
Maine will hold its actual state convention where it picks its delegates in early May. The Maine GOP is currently scheduled to meet on March 10 - the Saturday after Super Tuesday - when it plans to revisit the caucus results.
At this point, all of these states holding early, non-binding primaries and caucuses, are just making a mockery out of the system. They want to look important and get the attention of the candidates, so they hold the early votes, forcing the candidates to come visit. But then, by holding the more binding convention several months later, they can be duplicitous about it, and switch their state delegates over to the current front runner and likely nominee, away from who they actually chose at the beginning. Because heaven forbid your state not be in favor with the person who actually wins! That will not help the state party get help from the national party down the road!
The non-binding votes just to curry favor and attention makes a joke out of the primary system, and the republic representation system our country is founded on. And it is shocking, that of all people, Ron Paul isn't the one championing that cause! The "Liberty Activist" that he is, who chooses to live and die by the Constitution without question, should be the one forcing states to stick to their votes and elected and ratified rules and laws! Isn't that what he stands for? Well, maybe, just not when it suits him otherwise.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Political Ads- do they work?

Political ads are an unwelcome and inevitable part of the political cycle. If you live in a key state, you get inundated with them. Campaigns spend millions upon millions on these unwelcome ads, which begs the question- do they work??
In a time where "the public" feels that campaigning is getting more and more negative, many people feel that political ads are at the root of the unethical campaigning. So why would a candidate choose to air ads that leave viewers with a bad taste? No one has ever turned on the TV and said, "Oh good! Another negative campaign ad! Woohoo!"
The subject has not been researched in depth, but what little research there has been suggests that candidates who run negative ads are more likely to win. But then there is also research that indicates  running negative ads makes a candidate more likely to lose.
What is really interesting is that some studies have show that negative advertising results in lower voter turnout.   ("The Effectiveness of Negative Political Advertisements: A Meta-analytic Review" by Lau, Sigelman, Heldman, & Babbitt in the American Political Science Review.)

According to a bipartisan survey commission by the Project on Campaign Conduct, voters do not like political ads, and do not trust candidates and/or campaigns.

Among the findings-
More than eight in ten voters say attack-oriented campaigning is unethical, undermines democracy,  lowers voter turnout, and produces less ethical elected officials.
Seventy-six percent of voters think negative campaigning produces less-ethical and less trustworthy
More than 80 percent of voters think this type of campaigning makes people less likely to vote.

Highlights from the Survey

Of those surveyed:
  • 59% believe that all or most candidates deliberately twist the truth.
  • 39% believe that all or most candidates deliberately lie to voters.
  • 43% believe that most or all candidates deliberately make unfair attacks on their opponents. Another 45% believe that some candidates do.
  • 67% say they can trust the government in Washington only some of the time or never.
  • 87% are concerned about the level of personal attacks in today's political campaigns.
Interestingly, voters are also capable of distinguishing between what they feel are fair and unfair "attacks" in a political campaign. At least 57% of those surveyed believe negative information provided by one candidate about his/her opponent is relevant and useful when it relates to the following:
  • Talking one way and voting another
  • Not paying taxes
  • Accepting campaign contributions from special interests
  • Current drug or alcohol abuse
  • His or her voting record as an elected official
At the same time, at least 63% of those surveyed indicated the following kinds of information should be considered out of bounds:
  • Lack of military service
  • Past personal financial problems
  • Actions of a candidate's family members
  • Past drug or alcohol abuse

If voters feel that way, why do campaigns continue to run negative attack ads?
Because they work. They may not work on every voter, but they work on some voters. Case in point- Newt Gingrich's loss in Iowa. One minute he was on top, the next he wasn't- and it all corresponded to negative political ads.

Negative ads work because they confuse the viewer. A positive message isn't memorable. If Candidate Positive puts out an a happy, positive ad touting his/her shiny record. Candidate Opposite puts out a negative ad. The viewer may be turned off by the negative ad, but more than that it leaves a question mark in the viewer's head- who do you believe? If the viewer is already set on a candidate, and really likes Candidate Positive, the ad will only serve to reinforce that he/she doesn't like Candidate Opposite. The ad doesn't work on someone who has made up his/her mind. But it can confuse the undecided voter and keep them from picking Candidate Positive. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Romney to face big challenges in Arizona and Michigan


Some people feel former Governor Mitt Romney has Michigan and Arizona (the next two primary states) in the bag. Others think he's in for a bigger fight in both states than originally expected.

Both Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich claim they could beat Romney if the other guy (Santorum or Gingrich) would just drop out. Well, the other guy may not drop out, but they may get close to their wishes in AZ and MI. Arizona has 29 delegates while Michigan has 30, and both states are in play on February 29.
Because Romney is "the son of Detroit," and Arizona is heavily Mormon, he is expected to do very well in both states. But all signs indicate that Santorum is focusing his energy on Michigan, while Gingrich has his sights set on Arizona. Since neither campaign has the resources (manpower or money) to go full force in both states, it makes sense that they would divide and conquer, leaving Romney with essentially a one on one battle in both states. (Ron Paul is not a factor in either state.) 
According to the Washington Examiner this division of forces is not intentional or the result of any sort of deal between Santorum and Gingrich. "I can assure you no such agreement exists," says a Gingrich source. It's just turning out that way- probably because it is so logical a high school government student could have predicted it.
Santorum has the "momentum" of his hat trick last week in his pocket. While Gingrich hasn't had any success since his win in South Carolina. The polls in Arizona (the state he will be focusing on) show him lagging behind Romney. That being said, he's not actually in Arizona right now, but in California trying to raise money. (Which makes sense really, after all a lot of Arizonans are actually wealthy Californians with vacation homes in Scottsdale.) By the end of the week Gingrich will be in Georgia which is both his home state and a Super Tuesday state. In theory he is strong in Georgia, and rumors of Gingrich going for a "Southern States" campaign strategy are strong since his only win is in the South and makes sense. (in the "if you think he has any place still in the primaries" sense of the word.)

So what is there in Michigan for Santorum, besides a lack of Gingrich?
Well, it turns out Romney may not be as popular in Michigan as once expected. For starters, the bailouts that saved Detroit were opposed by Romney. His biggest problem is that thus far he has campaigned solely on his business and economic strengths. But now suddenly the auto industry (that he wanted to let go bankrupt- a Bain Capital move if there ever was one) has rebounded on Obama policies, and the economy is making a comeback. Romney's "I can save us now" rhetoric is going to fall on deaf ears that are turning back to Obama. Meanwhile, Santorum appeals to the middle class, and Michigan really takes pride in their blue collar roots. Santorum may not have Romney's war chest, but he does have enough money to spend to really bring a fight in Michigan, so he will. And let's not forget there is another CNN debate on February 22. The difference between this debate and the others? There's enough time between the debate and voters going to the polls that the candidates may get to recover or return fire for anything that goes down there. And you better believe that Gingrich (who again, isn't even in Arizona) is banking on "winning" the next debate as his strategy.

In the 2008 Arizona primary, more than 500,000 Republicans voted. In Michigan, it was nearly 900,000.
A candidate needs 1,144 delegates to win the nomination. Currently Romney has 105, Santorum 71, Gingrich 29, and Ron Paul 20. Unless you get into the whole pledged/unpledged/super delegates/charade state thing. In which case the numbers change to-
CNN: Romney 127, Gingrich 38, Santorum 37, Paul 27.
Or you can ask Real Clear Politics and get-
Romney 98, Santorum 44, Gingrich 32, Paul 20. 
Either way, really Romney is leading, Santorum is in second, and Gingrich and Paul are not.

National Review Magazine Pulls No Punches

National Review Magazine, in an editorial piece entitled "Santorum's Turn," is calling for Newt Gingrich to exit the GOP primary race in no uncertain terms, and in one of the strongest pleas for the former Speaker to exit.

Why? (Well, isn't it obvious?)
First, and foremost, Gingrich has only had one win- South Carolina. And second, Rick Santorum is proving to be the real contender, not Gingrich. The article goes on to cite that Gingrich is, without question, a very smart man. Someone who could be used as "resource for any future Republican president." But the longer he stays in the race, the less likely it is that anyone would ever want to associate with him. "But it would be a grave mistake for the party to make someone with such poor judgment and persistent unpopularity its presidential nominee." Pretty harsh rhetoric from a publication that is supposed to be on the same side as Gingrich!
The National Review points out that when Gingrich led in the polls, he called for Santorum to leave the race. And therefore, "on his [Gingrich's] own arguments the proper course for him now is to endorse Santorum and exit." (Of course, he could also endorse Romney the bigger front-runner, but we all know that is just laughable.)
The magazine was also fairly complimentary towards Santorum, and less so towards Romney. Regarding the former Senator from Pennsylvania-
Santorum has been conducting himself rather impressively in his moments of triumph and avoiding characteristic temptations. He is doing his best to keep the press from dismissing him as merely a “social-issues candidate.” His recent remark that losing his Senate seat in 2006 taught him the importance of humility suggests an appealing self-awareness. And he has rightly identified the declining stability of middle-class families as a threat to the American experiment, even if his proposed solutions are poorly designed. But sensible policies, important as they are, are not the immediate challenge for his candidacy. Proving he can run a national campaign is.
Well, the first half was mostly complimentary anyway.

Note the language difference between the descriptions of Santorum and Gingrich.

It is not clear whether Gingrich remains in the race because he still believes he could become president next year or because he wants to avenge his wounded pride: an ambiguity that suggests the problem with him as a leader.
With Santorum it is "moments of triumph," "humility," "self-awareness," "rightly identified."
For Gingrich it is "avenge," "wounded pride."
But that is nothing compared to the unflattering terms used to describe Mitt Romney.

Romney remains the undramatic figure at the center of the primaries’ drama. Lack of enthusiasm for him has set it all in motion. Romney is trying to win the nomination by pulverizing his rivals. His hope is that enthusiasm will follow when he takes on Obama in the summer and fall. But his attacks on Santorum have been lame, perhaps because they are patently insincere. (Does anyone believe that Romney truly thinks poorly of Santorum’s votes to raise the debt ceiling?)
Romney is a transactional politician rather than a charismatic one. 
"Undramatic," "transactional politician," "lame," "pulverizing," no really, National Review, tell us what you really think!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Go Mitt Go!

Mitt Romney wins Maine caucus (Photo Credit: E McBride, at SC election night party)

Mitt Romney won in Maine's Republican presidential caucuses today! And he won the overly-hyped CPAC straw poll.
Romney received 39% of the vote in Maine, with Ron Paul just 294 votes behind him (36%). Rick Santorum finished third, with 18 percent, and Newt Gingrich finished fourth, with 6 percent.
Maine is another beauty contest where the delegates (24 total, but 3 are dedicated, so really only 21 delegates up for grabs) are not bound by the results of the caucuses,
 Nonetheless Maine combined with winning the CPAC straw poll is an important win for Romney. (If winning the facade states of Minnesota, Missouri, and Colorado, were important to Rick Santorum, winning Maine has to be important to Romney for the same reasons).
Romney won Maine in 2008 with 52% of the vote. 
More than it being an "important win" for Romney, it is a big blow for Ron Paul, who hasn't had a big win yet. This was his first big chance to win, and he had put in a lot of effort to winning in Maine (since no one else was putting in an effort). 
We now get a 17 day break before the next two big primaries in Arizona and Michigan. As of right now (with no real data to back it up, only hearsay) it is expected both states will go to Romney. Michigan being his "home" state, with deep family ties. And Arizona because it is a heavily Mormon state, and everyone assumes all Mormons vote for Romney like a bunch of lemmings.
Heaven only know what will play out in the next two weeks with contraception and the budget now becoming key issues, and there will be (another) CNN debate before the next primary day. It's almost as if CNN ran out of programming ideas and can't stop hosting debates. 

I read the news so you don't have to

A few highlights from around the political news circuit-
Rick Santorum is in some hot water for saying to CNN's John King, "I want to create every opportunity for women to be able to serve this country . . . but I do have concerns about women in front-line combat.
“I think that could be a very compromising situation, where people naturally may do things that may not be in the interest of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved. It already happens, of course, with the camaraderie of men in combat, but I think it would be even more unique if women were in combat,” Santorum added. “And I think that’s not in the best interests of men, women or the mission.”
He's now trying to spin it as men are the one's with conflicting emotions about women. A woman next to them could distract them.  He's trying to convince everyone that he wasn't implying women are the ones who have emotions.
Will anyone believe that? Only time will tell.

Callista Gingrich (who we now know goes by Calli Lou at home, thanks to Randi Kay on CNN) will be taking on a more vocal role on her husband's campaign.  This is not surprising at all as the campaigns shift towards more social issues, and Newt is up against two very family-first candidates. Calli Lou took her first big step yesterday by introducing her husband at CPAC. For many people (most?) it was our first time to hear her voice, and really witness her style. She came across as dull, wooden, and not the warm, loving faithful wife the campaign most likely wanted to present. Calli Lou is up against two of the most easy to love women in Ann Romney and Karen Santorum. One has MS and is a breast cancer survivor, while the other is a home-schooling mother with a special needs child. Both look like the mom you wished you had. And Calli Lou, cute name or not, has a long and well-storied past to overcome with her document affair with her now husband, massive credit line at Tiffanys, etc. She would be better off to not position herself as the next First Mother, and instead take a page from Hilary Clinton's campaign playbook. Like Hilary, she has a great deal of professional and political experience of her own. She needs to play to her strengths, and not pretend she is something she is not.

Friday, February 10, 2012

President Obama just saved the GOP with his contraception policy

President Obama, accompanied by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, announces the revamp of his contraception policy requiring religious institutions to fully pay for birth control. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh / February 10, 2012)

On Thursday, December 15, 2011 Fox News held a televised GOP debate. On that night, thousands of people complained that Fox News, without warning, brought up abortion and birth control as issues. Up till that moment, other than in a few stump speeches by the completely-ignored-at-that-point Former Senator Rick Santorum, no one had cared nor addressed the issue.
Now, just two months later, it is President Obama making this issue. President Obama directed Catholic institutions that, under Obamacare, all Catholic schools, hospitals, orphanages, nursing homes and homeless shelters must provide the "morning after" pill, contraceptives and sterilizations for all employees, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. And he gave them 18 months to comply.
The government flat out told a church what to do. The message was clear, “Do as I say, and not what it is you believe in.”
This is wrong on so many levels that it is hard to know where to begin. There is the separation of church and state, the First Amendment, a woman’s right to choose, personal accountability, and Obama’s larger than life ego to discuss.
Naturally, pro-choice advocates are doing back flips. Yeah! We can make people who are morally opposed to birth control and abortion provide them to others! And we can call it a human rights victory! Mwahahaha!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ron Paul says the US is in 130 countries. True or False?

Copied, edited for length (not content), and shared via "Ron Paul's strange claim about bases and troops overseas" on Washington Post.

“We don't need to pay all this money to keep troops all over the country, 130 countries, 900 bases. But also, just think, bringing all the troops home rather rapidly, they would be spending their money here at home and not in Germany and Japan and South Korea, tremendous boost to the economy.”
— Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), Feb. 7, 2012

The Facts
First of all, Paul needs to update his rhetoric. He is still using the same numbers now that he used in September, but since then, the United States pulled out of Iraq, closing scores, if not hundreds, of facilities. So one would have to scratch Iraq off the “occupy” list. (A Paul spokesman did not respond to a query.)
In any case, the Defense Department every year publishes a list of military facilities in the United States and around the world. As of Sept. 30, 2010, the DOD list shows a list of 611 military facilities around the world (not counting war zones), though only 20 are listed as “large sites,” which means a replacement value of more than $1.74 billion.
Most of these — 549 — are small sites, sometimes very, very small.
 In fact, some sites appear to be double-counted. There is Spangdahlem Air Force base in Germany, which houses the 52nd Fighter Wing and is counted as a large site. But a separate “base” on the list is the sprawling Spangdahlem Waste Annex, all of three acres, with four buildings totaling 6,500 square feet.
 The DOD list does not include war zones, but we know that Iraq has no U.S. troops now, so that would just leave Afghanistan., a comprehensive Web site for military information, lists 106 U.S. military facilities in Afghanistan. So, it is hard to see how one gets the list above 750 overseas military facilities, and that’s only if one generously concludes even waste dumps and the like as “military bases.”

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

February 1, 2008, Former Senator Rick Santorum Endorses Governor Mitt Romney

And the Golden Flip Flop Award Goes to-

BOSTON, Feb. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) announced his endorsement of Governor Mitt Romney. Senator Santorum served two terms in the United States Senate where he was also Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, the third-ranking member of the Republican leadership.
"In a few short days, Republicans from across this country will decide more than their party's nominee. They will decide the very future of our party and the conservative coalition that Ronald Reagan built. Conservatives can no longer afford to stand on the sidelines in this election, and Governor Romney is the candidate who will stand up for the conservative principles that we hold dear," said Senator Santorum. "Governor Romney has a deep understanding of the important issues confronting our country today, and he is the clear conservative candidate that can go into the general election with a united Republican party."
Announcing Senator Santorum's support, Governor Romney said, "I am honored to have Senator Santorum's support. Throughout his career of public service, he has always led with a steadfast commitment to our party's conservative principles. He has fought for life, marriage, tax cuts and a stronger national defense. In the coming days, I look forward to working with him as we fight for our party's conservative foundations."
Background on Former Senator Rick Santorum:
Mr. Santorum Served As United States Senator From Pennsylvania From 1995 To 2007 And As A Member Of The U.S. House Of Representatives From 1991 To 1995. As a United States Senator, he was a champion of efforts to counter the threat of radical Islam, to protect victims of religious persecution, and to promote democracy and religious liberty around the world. He founded the Congressional Working Group on Religious Freedom and spearheaded the passage of several key pieces of legislation, including the landmark welfare reform bill, the American Community Renewal Act, a ban on partial-birth abortion, the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, the Combating Autism Act, the Farmland Preservation Act, the Abandoned Mine Lands Reform Act, the Multi-Employer Pension Reform Act, the Global Aids Authorization Act, Health Savings Accounts, the Syria Accountability Act, and the Iran Freedom Support Act.
From 2001 to 2007, he served as Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, where he directed the communications operations of Senate Republicans and was the third-ranking member of the Republican leadership.
Today, Senator Santorum is a Senior Fellow with The Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. and is a contributor on Fox News Channel.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Live Commenting on Mini Tuesday Results

If CNN and Fox News can be believed an hour before the caucuses even start, we may be in for an upset tonight. I'll be periodically live commenting throughout the night.

(You'll want to read this post from the bottom up!)

1:08 am:
To cap off the night, I just had to share my little Twitter moment of fun and fame for the night-

1:02 am- CNN gets the Colorado GOP Chair to call it live on air for Santorum. 
But we do not have the final exact number.
Oops, I typed that, and they gave the number immediately-
Santorum- 17,623 38%
Romney 17,169 37%
Gingrich 6,046 13%
Paul 5,745 12%
They still don't have 100% reporting in, but the state GOP says it is good. Considering the break down of proportional delegates, its more a tie. But good for Santorum! And wow, what a CRAZY upset!!

12:25 am - CNN has been warning for several hours that the results coming in from CO were not going to be a trend for the state. And they were right. Santorum had a hefty lead all night, but here at 12:25 am, we have -
Romney 37%
Santorum 35%
Gingrich 14%
Paul 13%.
Which is a serious change from the last update where Santorum had 41% and Romney was under 33%.
51% of precincts reporting. This is again another time to remember the difference between "51% of polls," 51% of votes, and 51% of precincts. The majority of precincts up to this point tonight were in very rural areas, with very small populations. All it took was one big precinct to completely overturn all the numbers.

12:05 am- An Occupyer just tried to glitter-bomb Romney, and got the full Secret Service escort out. You don't mess with the Secret Service!

Also, are we ready to declare Newt moot?

11:25 Updated Delegate Counts!
Remember, all delegates are proportional. So Santorum isn't taking all delegates from Minnesota.
Romney- 102 (picked up 2 in MN)
Gingrich - 35 (unchanged)
Paul- 17 (up 2)
Santorum- 16 (up 5)
That's actually a little sad. Santorum finally "wins" "2" states, and he's still in fourth place behind Paul who hasn't won anything.

11:25- Colorado 26% reporting: Santorum 42%, Romney 31%, Gingrich 15%, Paul 12%
But everyone is pointing out that no one believes we are close to being done in Colorado.

11:15- Apparently when Obama declared Super PACs good, Santorum decided to concur. Check out this picture-

The man with the white hair standing next to Santorum while he delivers his MO and MN victory speech is none other than Foster Friess, the head of the Santorum Super PAC. He's a Wyoming based investment manager, leader of Brandywine funds, and donor to Christian causes.
(Speaking of which, where is Jim Bob Duggar?)
Considering the laws about mixing campaigns and Super PACs are pretty specific about not mixing them directly, this is an incredibly gutsy, if not stupid, move by Santorum (who has also been out campaigning with him by his side for the last few days).

10:45- Funny comment seen on Twitter-
"To be fair, Mormons have never fared well in Missouri. #ExterminationOrder"
(you probably have to be Mormon to find that funny)

10:35- Minnesota officially called for Santorum. Assuming the stats stay true, and Santorum gets 46% of MN delegates, he's won 17 delegates tonight for a grand total of 28.  That's seven delegates behind Newt.

For the record, I'm happy for Santorum. I think he deserves a win after getting denied his victory lap in Iowa.

10:10- Food for thought - Winning huge in nonbinding contests is kind of like being undefeated in preseason football.
Noteworthy- Mitt Romney won Minnesota 2008 Primary with 41% (19% lead) or 25,990 votes.

Also, CNN is sitting around surmising that we'll Romney "deploy his surrogates" to start attacking Santorum now.  Specifically, Gloria Borger said that. I like most of the "experts" on CNN, but I swear G Borger is an idiot. Other than the one week of retaliation attacks on Gingrich, Romney has stayed focused on Obama. I look forward to seeing maybe tops, 1 day of comments about Santorum (he won't attack him, just comment), and Borger being wrong.

9:50- Someone updated Wolf Blitzer! With a whopping 1% reporting in (yes 1), it is exactly what CBS said. Why we care about 1% as anything other than a novelty is behind me. They have had only 406 votes actually counted in Colorado. I'm calling CBS crazy for calling anything based on 406 votes.

9:45- Missouri (and its zero candidates) goes to Santorum with over 50% of the vote.
In CO, with 5/76 precincts reporting, CBS estimates Santorum 50%, Gingrich 21%, Romney 19%, Paul 9%. And CBS is calling it for Santorum. Notably, CNN has not called it. In fact, while I'm typing this, Wolf Blitzer just said, "We know Romney is doing VERY well in Colorado." Either he needs an update, or CBS is out in left field.

The question has been raised on Twitter a few times tonight, what happens if Santorum does win tonight. Well, the answer is easy. If he were to take a full sweep which he won't because they are all proportional states, but let's just say he did, he would still be 29 delegates behind Romney.