The polls just closed in Florida and the media is already projecting that Mitt Romney will be the winner. This comes as no surprise today as the polls showed Romney with a lead, but immediately after the South Carolina primary this outcome was briefly in doubt. Since then Republican leaders have gone nuclear against Gingrich and Romney benefited from better debate performances.
Florida has violated the Republican Party rule that winner take all contests cannot occur until April, and Romney will take all fifty delegates, pending the inevitable challenge should Gingrich remain competitive. Gingrich does say he will remain in the race until the end, and he appears angry enough with Romney to possibly do so.
It now appears increasingly unlikely that Romney can be stopped despite the opposition of many conservatives. There just is not a viable candidate in the race to oppose him. It is too late for another candidate to enter the race and win as many filing deadlines have passed, but theoretically another candidate could enter and pick up enough delegates to keep anyone from winning a majority, leaving the decision to the convention. It is difficult, but not impossible, to envision scenarios which could still deny Romney the honor of losing to Barack Obama this fall.
Romney leading but having Gingrich remain in the race might be the best possible outcome following the Florida primary. As it is theoretically possible for the nominee of any major political party to wind up winning, we certainly do not want Gingrich to be the nominee. Gingrich is welcome to spend the next several months exposing all of Romney’s faults and continue to damage his image.
Republicans have hoped that the economic downturn they created could help them win mid-western states should voters blame the incumbent for the state of the economy. Despite all their effort to slow economic recovery, Bloomberg shows signs that Obama might wind up benefiting from recent economic improvement in the region:
From northern Michigan’s iron mines to Pennsylvania’s natural-gas fields, the industrial heartland of America is humming with jobs again as a region once left for dead recovers faster than the rest of the U.S.
The turnaround may shape this year’s race for the White House as President Barack Obama seeks to reverse Republican gains in the Midwest. The title of his State of the Union address, “An America Built to Last,” evoked a theme of manufacturing’s revival meant to resonate on the campaign trail.
The economies of Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania — all states Obama won in 2008 — have improved faster than that of the U.S. since the recession’s depth in April 2009, according to the Philadelphia Federal Reserve. Michigan is expected to lead all 50 states during the next six months, the Fed data show.
“We’re going back to a region we abandoned a long time ago to get energy again from rocks that were already drilled a thousand times,” said Clay Williams, chief financial officer for Houston-based National Oilwell Varco Inc. (NOV), which started in Oil City, Pennsylvania, in 1862. “We’re going back to our roots.”
Economic recovery in so-called Rust Belt states may bolster re-election chances for Obama, who pushed the U.S.-backed bailout of General Motors Co. (GM) and Chrysler Group LLC, both based in Michigan. He visited the state in a three-day campaign swing following his speech, and was greeted by guest editorials in Detroit newspapers from Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus and Michigan GOP Chairman Robert Schostak criticizing his record on the economy…
Michigan, Ohio and Indiana all ranked among the top eight performers for improvement of economic health in the Bloomberg Economic Evaluation of States from the third quarter of 2009 through the third quarter of last year, the most recent period available.
Automakers are increasing production after U.S. light- vehicle sales rose at least 10 percent for two straight years for the first time since 1984. This month, GM announced it had regained the title as the top-selling global automaker, which it lost to Toyota as it slid into bankruptcy.
The Obama campaign is banking on the U.S. auto industry’s comeback to damp the appeal of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Michigan, where his father was a popular governor, as well as to reverse Ohio’s swing to Republicans in the 2010 mid-term elections.
Juan Williams exposes the racism in the GOP campaign at The Hill:
The language of GOP racial politics is heavy on euphemisms that allow the speaker to deny any responsibility for the racial content of his message. The code words in this game are “entitlement society” — as used by Mitt Romney — and “poor work ethic” and “food stamp president” — as used by Newt Gingrich. References to a lack of respect for the “Founding Fathers” and the “Constitution” also make certain ears perk up by demonizing anyone supposedly threatening core “old-fashioned American values.”
The code also extends to attacks on legal immigrants, always carefully lumped in with illegal immigrants, as people seeking “amnesty” and taking jobs from Americans…
The former Speaker has declared that black people should demand jobs instead of food stamps. And he has proposed having poor students work as janitors in their high schools. Regardless of how they were intended, poor people and minorities sense that with those comments Gingrich is winking — some call it “dog whistling” — at certain white audiences by intimating that black people are lazy, happy to live off the government and lacking any intellect.
With comments like this, I wonder how long Williams will remain at Fox. Apparently exposure to ideas at NPR has made a difference. Getting outside of the right wing bubble from time to time might do wonders for other conservatives.
I’ll undoubtedly receive a response from a Republican insisting that he is not racist because he will claim that it is true that blacks are just interested in food stamps and immigrants take American jobs. I’ve certainly received a lot of defenses of Ron Paul’s racist newsletters based upon such logic. The Republican leadership provides a form of legitimacy to such prejudices.
Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy hit back at Fox News during a UK press conference following the London Premiere of their new film. Fox had publically criticized the film for supposedly pushing a ‘dangerous liberal agenda’ at kids.
Kermit mocks their blatant and pointless fear mongering before Miss Piggy offers her own opinion on Fox News.
I have not been terribly interested in the Occupy Wall Street movement since the concentration changed from issues to the protests themselves. I certainly have no interest in the Tea Party movement, with their members being totally ignorant about the issues they stress, and as they take symbols from the American Revolution while holding views which are quite contrary to the liberties fought for by the Founding Fathers. A group of protestors in Davos Davos did manage to find a way to get my attention, as seen in the video above and the picture of the demonstrators below:
They are protesting topless outside the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland calling for more female participation in the meetings and in politics, claiming they are “Poor Because of You.”
It was a good night for Doctor Who at the National Television Awards, despite losing to Downton Abbey as best drama. Matt Smith won the award for best actor and Karen Gillan won for best actress. Merlin was also a contender for Best Drama.
David Tennant has also won as best actor at the inaugural BBC Audio Drama Awards. He won for his role as Kafka in Kafka: The Musical.
Does reading about awards for the last two Doctors make you nostalgic for their episodes, as well as all the episodes before them? The above video shows almost fifty years of Doctor Who in less than ten minutes.
Matt Smith and Karen Gillan beat nominees from Torchwood, John Barrowman and Eve Myles, in their respective categories in the National Television Awards. Cultbox interviewed Eve Myles about the future of Torchwood and the upcoming 50th anniversary of Doctor Who:
What’s the latest you’ve heard on the future of Torchwood?
“As far as I know at the moment, everything’s still very much on hold. Russell [T Davies] has things happening in his personal life.
“John [Barrowman] is very much on the same page as me, in that if and when they need us, they can just pick the phone up and we will be there before they’ve even put the phone down, because it’s something we love doing.
“Nothing’s going to happen in 2012, I know that much for sure. But who knows what will happen in 2013. Maybe a movie, to kinda draw a line under it.
“That’s the thing about Torchwood, every series we’ve changed our format. We’ve always had a gap in between, so fingers crossed, because we’ve got such an outstanding loyal fan base. They deserve Torchwood to go ahead with something else to draw a line under it, for the fans to have a bit of closure.
With the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who coming up next year, would you be up for returning as Gwen for that?
“Um, I said something at one of these conventions and the press kinda jumped on it: “EVE MYLES THINKS BEING INVOLVED IN THE 50TH ANNINVERSARY OF DOCTOR WHO IS INAPPROPRIATE.”
“Now, this has come across wrong and I want to get this out that I didn’t mean it like that! What I meant was that the direction we were taking with Torchwood was very violent kind of storylines. The characters were going through certain narratives that are pretty hefty and adult. What I meant was that it’s difficult for a character to do those kind of scenes then do Doctor Who, which my niece and my nephews watch. And I would never let them watch Torchwood!
“It’s a difficult crossover. It works with Captain Jack because John does it beautifully. If I was asked it would be an absolute honour to be involved with something as huge as Doctor Who again.
“We were born from Doctor Who and we will be eternally grateful to the mothership. And I always say that and that never gets printed! If I was involved, I’m sure it’d be a wonderful thing but there’s been no phone call or no talk about it so I doubt very much that I will be involved, but I’d be honoured.”
Topless Robot helped me transition from Torchwood to Star Trek by digging up the above video of John Barrowman interviewing William Shatner (Captain Jack and Captain Kirk) from 1994 about Star Trek: Generations.
Zoe Saldana has provided a hint as to what happens with her character in J.J. Abram’s second Star Trek movie in an interview with New York Magazine:
Might we see some more “close encounters” between you and Zachary Quinto in this movie?
If I’m elusive, will that spoil it for you? You mean you can’t say anything, and that in itself might be indicating something?
I just don’t want to spoil it for you. All I’m going to say is, if you put all the time and energy and wit into setting these two characters together in the first movie and didn’t follow through, it would be a shame.
I hope I didn’t say too much!
I don’t think you did.
I feel like J.J. is going to pop up out of the corner and say, “Come with me, Zoe.”
J.J. Abrams also has two new genre television shows this season, Person of Interest and Alcatraz. Individual episodes of each give the impression of being essentially police procedural shows with a twist, and the question in my mind is whether there will be enough back story of interest to make them worth watching. I almost gave up on Fringe during its first season, seeing it as largely a monster of the week version of X-Files, but by the second season there was a tremendous pay off for sticking with the show. Therefore I paln to keep watching these two new Abrams shows.
There are hints that a story is developing beyond the weekly procedurals on Person of Interest. We have already seen a major change in Detective Carter. I am curious to see what develops now that Reese is having Finch followed. Meanwhile, Jonathan Nolan warns, “None of these characters are safe. You always have to be willing to [kill off characters]. Nothing is given.” I doubt that they would kill off Reese or Finch, but Carter and Fusco are definitely expendable.
Alcatraz combines a weekly police procedural with hunting down escaped prisoners from Alcatraz along with a continuing story about how they managed to be transported to the present. So far we’ve seen three stories (with two separate episodes being aired the first week). I got hooked with the second episode, which showed Lucy both in the past and present. It was not only the prisoners who disappeared from Alcatraz.
Perhaps because of being produced by Warner Brothers, The Big Bang Theory tends to concentrate heavily on DC comic characters. One rare past reference to Doctor Who which I can recall was from last year’s New Year’s Eve party when Stuart wore a Tom Baker costume at a party at his comic book store. Meanwhile, most of the characters came not as X-Men or Avengers but members of the Justice League of America:
Two years ago, Sheldon did combine watching Doctor Who with his fixation on his place on the couch:
One reason Republicans are often successful in getting people to vote counter to their interests (as well as counter to the interests of the United States) is by promoting a false impression of the views of others. Republicans have been mischaracterizing Democratic objections to their policies to transfer wealth to the ultra-wealthy as class warfare, when it has actually been the Republicans who have been practicing (and winning at) class warfare. Therefore I was happy to see that Barack Obama is directly responding to these false Republican arguments, such as at his recent speech at the University of Michigan.
After a call out to Denard Robinson and going for the easy applause line (“Go blue”) Obama talked about education and reviving the economy. The end of his speech presents a strong response to all the nonsense on the economy we have been hearing at the Republican debates:
THE PRESIDENT: Now, in the longer run, we’re also going to have to reduce our deficit. We’ve got to invest in our future and we’ve got to reduce our deficit. And to do both, we’ve got to make some choices. Let me give you some examples.
Right now, we’re scheduled to spend nearly $1 trillion more on what was intended to be a temporary tax cut for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: That’s not fair.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s not fair. A quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: Not fair. Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. I know because she was at the State of the Union. She told me. (Laughter.) Is that fair?
THE PRESIDENT: Does it make sense to you?
THE PRESIDENT: Do we want to keep these tax cuts for folks like me who don’t need them? Or do we want to invest in the things that will help us in the long term — like student loans and grants — (applause) — and a strong military — (applause) — and care for our veterans — (applause) — and basic research? (Applause.)
Those are the choices we’ve got to make. We can’t do everything. We can’t reduce our deficit and make the investments we need at the same time, and keep tax breaks for folks who don’t need them and weren’t even asking for them — well, some of them were asking for them. I wasn’t asking for them. (Laughter.) We’ve got to choose.
When it comes to paying our fair share, I believe we should follow the Buffett Rule: If you make more than $1 million a year — and I hope a lot of you do after you graduate — (laughter) — then you should pay a tax rate of at least 30 percent. (Applause.) On the other hand, if you decide to go into a less lucrative profession, if you decide to become a teacher — and we need teachers — (applause) — if you decide to go into public service, if you decide to go into a helping profession — (applause) — if you make less than $250,000 a year — which 98 percent of Americans do — then your taxes shouldn’t go up. (Applause.)
This is part of the idea of shared responsibility. I know a lot of folks have been running around calling this class warfare. I think asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes is just common sense. (Applause.) Yesterday, Bill Gates said he doesn’t think people like him are paying enough in taxes. I promise you, Warren Buffett is doing fine, Bill Gates is doing fine, I’m doing fine.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Koch Brothers.
THE PRESIDENT: They’re definitely doing fine. (Laughter.)
We don’t need more tax breaks. There are a lot of families out there who are struggling, who’ve seen their wages stall, and the cost of everything from a college education to groceries and food have gone up. You’re the ones who need that. You’re the ones who need help. And we can’t do both.
There have been some who have been saying, well, the only reason you’re saying that is because you’re trying to stir people up, make them envious of the rich. People don’t envy the rich. When people talk about me paying my fair share of taxes, or Bill Gates or Warren Buffett paying their fair share, the reason that they’re talking about it is because they understand that when I get a tax break that I don’t need, that the country can’t afford, then one of two things are going to happen: Either the deficit will go up and ultimately you guys are going to have to pay for it, or alternatively, somebody else is going to foot the bill — some senior who suddenly has to pay more for their Medicare, or some veteran who’s not getting the help that they need readjusting after they have defended this country, or some student who’s suddenly having to pay higher interest rates on their student loans.
We do not begrudge wealth in this country. I want everybody here to do well. We aspire to financial success. But we also understand that we’re not successful just by ourselves. We’re successful because somebody started the University of Michigan. (Applause.) We’re successful because somebody made an investment in all the federal research labs that created the Internet. We’re successful because we have an outstanding military — that costs money. We’re successful because somebody built roads and bridges and laid broadband lines. And these things didn’t just happen on their own.
And if we all understand that we’ve got to pay for this stuff, it makes sense for those of us who’ve done best to do our fair share. And to try to pass off that bill onto somebody else, that’s not right. That’s not who we are. (Applause.) That’s not what my grandparents’ generation worked hard to pass down. That’s not what your grandparents and your great-grandparents worked hard to pass down. We’ve got a different idea of America, a more generous America. (Applause.)
Everybody here is only here because somebody somewhere down the road decided we’re going to think not just about ourselves, but about the future. We’ve got responsibilities, yes, to ourselves but also to each other. And now it’s our turn to be responsible. Now it’s our turn to leave an America that’s built to last. And I know we can do it. We’ve done it before and I know we can do it again because of you.
When I meet young people all across this country, with energy and drive and vision, despite the fact that you’ve come of age during a difficult, tumultuous time in this world, it gives me hope. You inspire me. You’re here at Michigan because you believe in your future. You’re working hard. You’re putting in long hours — hopefully some at the library. (Laughter.) Some of you are balancing a job at the same time. You know that doing big things isn’t always easy, but you’re not giving up.
You’ve got the whole world before you. And you embody that sense of possibility that is quintessentially American. We do not shrink from challenges. We stand up to them. And we don’t leave people behind; we make sure everybody comes along with us on this journey that we’re on. (Applause.)
That’s the spirit right now that we need, Michigan. (Applause.) Here in America, we don’t give up. We look out for each other. We make sure everybody has a chance to get ahead. And if we work in common purpose, with common resolve, we can build an economy that gives everybody a fair shot. And we will remind the world just why it is that the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth. (Applause.)
Mitt Romney previously was thought to be a strong general election choice for the Republican Party because of an ability to compete with Barack Obama among independent voters. That no longer appears to be true. Mitt Romney’s unfavorability ratings are soaring among independent voters. Greg Sargent summarizes the results from the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll:
In November, Romney was rated somewhat or very negatively by 22 percent of independents.
In December, Romney was rated somewhat or very negatively by 29 percent of independents.
And in the new poll, Romney was rated somewhat or very negatively by 42 percent of independents — 20 points higher than two months ago.
Also: In November, Romney was beating Obama 47-34 among those voters. Now the numbers are upside down: Obama is beating Romney 44-36.
This is probably because of the questions about his taxes and years at Bain Capital. I would like to think it might also be because independents are figuring out that Romney’s main attacks on Obama, from claiming he has been apologizing for America to his claim that Obama is responsible for three times as many regulations on business as George Bush, are outright lies.
I also hope that other elements of Romney’s past further reduce his favorability among independents. Gawker has been looking at an old Mormon practice of converting the dead to Mormonism:
The Mormon church has repeatedly been criticized for its practice of trawling for dead souls to convert to the faith. Catholic and Jewish organizations have expressed outrage when the names of dead popes and Holocaust victims have turned up on Mormon lists of the baptized. In 1995, the church pledged to “discontinue any future baptisms of deceased Jews” except for direct descendents of living Mormons, tacitly acknowledging that its creepy and weird to claim the souls of people who had no interest in Mormonism for their own.
They found that Mitt Romney’s atheist father-in-law was converted posthumously to Mormonism by the Romney family:
Two readers have sent us confirmation that Edward Davies, Mitt Romney’s militantly atheist father-in-law, was indeed posthumously converted to Mormonism by his family, despite the fact that when he was alive he regarded all religions as “hogwash.”
As we mentioned yesterday, Ann Romney’s Welsh-born father (who Mitt mentioned in last night’s debate to shore up his pro-immigrant bona fides) was an engineer, inventor, and resolute atheist who disdained all organized religion and raised his children accordingly. Davies, his son Roderick told the Boston Globe in 2007, regarded the faithful as “weak in the knees.” But when Mitt began seeing Davies’ daughter Ann, the Romney family launched a concerted effort to convert not only Ann but her entire family to Mormonism. And they were wildly successful: Within a year of meeting Ann, Mitt and his father had converted all three of Edward Davies’ children. Days before she died in 1993, Ann Romney’s mother asked to be converted as well. Edward Davies was the only member of his clan whose soul the Romneys never claimed for their church.
Until he died. According to this entry in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ genealogical database, Davies was baptized as a Mormon at a “special family meeting” 14 months after his death: “All ordinances except sealing to spouse performed in Salt Lake Temple on 19 Nov 1993 in special family meeting,” the entry says. (When we previously asked the church whether Davies had been baptized, a spokesperson told us that the information was available only to his family and church members. But it’s apparently right there on the internet for those who know what to look for.)
With the candidates for the GOP nomination failing to have a sensible platform of their own, they are trying to latch onto the reputation of Ronald Reagan. Newt Gingrich is the most guilty of this. Mitt Romney, who has taken both sides of virtually question imaginable, has declared his independence from Bush-Reagan in the past. Conservatives disagree as to whether Gingrich is the new Ronald Reagan. National Review ran a story showing that Gingrich frequently attacked Reagan, while many conservative blogs are running a video in which Nancy Reagan said her husband had turned over the torch to Newt.
I have not been critical of Newt Gingrich but it is now time to take a stand before it is too late. If Gingrich is the nominee it will have an adverse impact on Republican candidates running for county, state, and federal offices. Hardly anyone who served with Newt in Congress has endorsed him and that fact speaks for itself. He was a one-man-band who rarely took advice. It was his way or the highway.
Gingrich served as Speaker from 1995 to 1999 and had trouble within his own party. By 1997 a number of House Republican members wanted to throw him out as Speaker. But he hung on until after the 1998 elections when Newt could read the writing on the wall. His mounting ethics problems caused him to resign in early 1999. I know whereof I speak as I helped establish a line of credit of $150,000 to help Newt pay off the fine for his ethics violations. In the end, he paid the fine with money from other sources.
Gingrich had a new idea every minute and most of them were off the wall. He loved picking a fight with President Clinton because he knew this would get the attention of the press. This and a myriad of other specifics like shutting down the government helped to topple Gingrich in 1998.
In my run for the presidency in 1996 the Democrats greeted me with a number of negative TV ads and in every one of them Newt was in the ad. He was very unpopular and I am not only certain that this did not help me, but that it also cost House seats that year. Newt would show up at the campaign headquarters with an empty bucket in his hand — that was a symbol of some sort for him — and I never did know what he was doing or why he was doing it, and I’m not certain he knew either.
The Democrats are spending millions of dollars running negative ads against Romney as they are hoping that Gingrich will be the nominee which could result in a landslide victory for Obama and a crushing defeat for Republicans from the courthouse to the White House. Democrats are not running ads against Gingrich which is further proof they want to derail Governor Romney.
In my opinion if we want to avoid a sweeping victory by Obama in November, Republicans should nominate Governor Romney as our standard bearer. He could win because he has the requisite experience in the public and private sectors. He would be a president in whom we could have confidence and he would make us proud.
Gingrich has also compared himself to Barry Goldwater, but that one is especially absurd. Goldwater made his opposition to the religious right very clear in many statements, including in a speech before the Senate on September 16, 1981:
On religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in “A,” “B,” “C” and “D.” Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?
And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of “conservatism.”
Goldwater also expressed similar views in 1994:
Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.