The latest AP-GfK 2012 election poll has very good news for President Obama and bad, bad news for Willard the "Mitt" and the other remaining clowns in the GOP primary field. The national poll of 1,000 adults conducted over the past week shows President Obama decisively leading Romney 51% to 43%. Against Santorum, the latest in the GOP desperate search for the "other-than-Mitt" candidate, the president is leading 52% to 43%.
Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich aren't doing any better. Paul, the darling of the Ayn Rand brainwashed set, is losing in the poll 53% to 44%, while Gingrich trails the president by 10 points. Gingrich has huge unfavorable numbers, 58%. Romney's unfavorable rating is 43%, Santorum 42%. Ron Paul is the least unlikeable of the four, but even he draws a 40% unfavorable rating, and a majority of those polled said they didn't like the entire field of candidates.
As the economy continues to improve and the Republicans dig themselves ever deeper into a right-wing hole, the re-election of President Obama looks brighter and brighter, as does the prospect that Virginia will have a new Democratic senator, not a GOP retread we happily said goodbye to six years ago..
It's going to be very difficult to any of the four left in the GOP field to move to the center after their primary blood bath, trying to prove who is most extreme. They are hemorrhaging support from independents and will continue to do so the longer they have to throw red meat to their far-right base. That's what happens when you succumb to "Tea Party poisoning."
Is it possible to have a caucus that no one wins? The results from Iowa sure look like it:
Mitt Romney has been campaigning for president for six years. He's spent millions of dollars of his own campaign money and has been backed by tens of millions in spending by shadowy outside groups (thanks, Supreme Court's awful, activist Citizens United ruling). Romney only managed 24.6% - 0.6% less than in 2008.
Extremist social conservatives certainly didn't support Perry (10% & clumsily indicated he'd drop out), Bachmann (5% & possibly dropping out this morning) or Cain (1% & already out). But even with supporters of controlling theocratic government consolidated behind him, Rick Santorum couldn't win.
Despite an alleged ability to draw independent & liberal crossover votes and what his supporters claimed was an infusion of people traveling to Iowa, Ron Paul still finished third.
It's hard to see a path to victory for anyone but Mitt Romney - phony, lying, corporations-are-people Mitt Romney. The real question at this point: Will Republicans set aside their dislike of Romney & unite in their hatred of President Obama behind him anyway? Be so dispirited by Romney that down-ballot Congressional races swing to Democrats? Turn to a third party candidate like Paul? What do you think?
It looks like Virginia Republican primary voters, at most, will be choosing from a list of four pretty lousy contenders: Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, and Newt Gingrich. Since the state GOP has decided that candidates who submit at least 15,000 signatures of registered voters on valid petitions with at least 600 signatures from each of the 11 districts will be asumed to have qualified, only Romney is assured at this point to have met the qualifications, while Paul probably has. Perry and Gingrich turned in fewer than 12,000 signatures and still may not qualify for the ballot.
Even if all four appear on the March ballot, GOP voters have a pretty sorry lot to choose from. Each one of the four has disgusting baggage weighing down any run for the White House, but perhaps the most bizarre is Ron Paul.
Paul has finally been unmasked as the con man and conspiracy nut he is, not the kindly old libertarian he pretends to be. A 1993 newsletter released under his signature contains unbelievable vitriol and hate. In it he rails against the "new money" the government printed to thwart counterfeiters, calling it part of a plot to create one world government. He brags that he had earlier "laid bare the coming race war in our big cities," the "federal-homosexual coverup on AIDS," and "the Israeli lobby which plays Congress like a cheap harmonica." Then, Paul promises he can save people from the coming disasters if they will simply send him $99.
Then there's Mitt Romney. In recent days he has stated that he will not follow the usual practice of presidential contenders and release his tax returns. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why. The guy benefits from tax breaks for the uber-wealthy and doesn't want the rest of us to know that.
Dr. Joseph Mercola is one of the most popular New Age health gurus on the web. He is now using that popularity to push Ron Paul for president.
I tend to agree with many of Mercola's positions in favor of natural foods and avoiding chemical toxins in food and the environment. I even agree with a few of his more controversial stances, like his criticism of the use of mercury-containing dental fillings. (Does it really make sense to put a known, potent toxin in your mouth, for permanent use?)
Unfortunately, he too frequently dips into the crazy end of the pool, for example in jumping on the twisted bandwagon claiming that HIV does not cause AIDS. He is also a relentless marketer of sometimes questionable products. That has gotten him in trouble more than once with the FDA, which issued warnings to him in 2005, 2006 and 2011 for making exaggerated claims about his products, e.g., that one will "help to virtually eliminate your risk of developing cancer in the future."
These experiences with the FDA in turn seem to have fueled a certain paranoia and distrust of government, and hence perhaps Mercola's embrace of Ron Paul's vision of our Federal government and most of its programs being gutted.
It's no surprise that Sarah Palin & Newt Gingrich are as popular as burnt toast. I wouldn't have guessed that Tea Party favorites Ron Paul & Michele Bachmann would be so well known - or so resoundingly rejected. But as Silver notes, what's really so shocking about this chart is the lack of net favorables for the GOP's newcomer candidates like John Thune, Mitch Daniels & Tim Pawlenty. For example, John Kerry had spent two decades in the U.S. Senate when he ran for president, yet still had lower unfavorables than Pawlenty, who was an unknown nationally until being mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick for John McCain in 2004.
But freedom for Egyptians? As the Washington Post reports, most of CPAC's speakers have been strangely silent - and the loudest voice said America should've done less to encourage the Egyptian revolution:
[F]or the most part, they had little to say about the nation's policy toward Egypt, whether to praise the demonstrators whose protests forced President Hosni Mubarak to step down, or to offer the principles that should guide U.S. policy as the American and Israeli ally takes the next steps toward democracy.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney didn't mention Egypt at all in his speech. Nor did Sen. John Thune (S.D.), although his text included a line that said, "Let's stand with those around the world who are risking their lives for freedom." Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty made a glancing reference, criticizing Obama as appeasing U.S. adversaries, including "Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood."
It was left to Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) to step into the vacuum. The libertarian conservative, who drew an enthusiastic audience of supporters, offered a contrarian view. In a party that has championed the spread of freedom as part of its recent foreign policy and whose leaders helped keep Mubarak in power for decades in the name of stability in the Middle East, Paul stood out as a dissenter.
Saying he disagrees with the idea that the United States has "a moral responsibility to spread our goodness around the world," Paul added to cheers from the crowd, "We need to do a lot less a lot sooner, not only in Egypt but around the world."
The lack of Egypt talk also reveals a major shortcoming of 2011's Tea Party-dominated Republican Party: Today's GOP leaders are foreign policy lightweights. Where are the GOP's Jim Webbs? The Tom Perriellos? The Hillary Clintons? Instead, we get eccentric conspiracy theories from Ron Paul and anti-technology nuttery from Michele Bachmann.
At first it was only Ron Paul (R, TX), the fringe libertarian Congressman who talked seriously about a return to the gold standard. Since the Wall Street meltdown and the Great Recession, however, we have heard a growing chorus of politicians (mostly right-wing), and conservative economists floating the idea of a return to the gold standard as the solution to rising federal deficits and the jobless recovery. Various bigwigs like World Bank President Robert Zoelick, Warren Buffet's father Howard Buffet, and Kansas Federal Reserve President Thomas Hoenig all have made statements supporting a return to the gold standard, but nothing has been so remarkable as hearing Alan Greenspan, in an interview on Fox Business, say:
We have at this particular stage a fiat currency which is essentially money printed by a government and it's usually a central bank which is authorized to do so. Some mechanism has got to be in place that restricts the amount of money which is produced, either a gold standard or a currency board, because unless you do that all of history suggest that inflation will take hold with very deleterious effects on economic activity... There are numbers of us, myself included, who strongly believe that we did very well in the 1870 to 1914 period with an international gold standard.
Even more stunning was hearing Greenspan question whether or not we even need a central bank (i.e., the Federal Reserve); he also claimed that the housing bubble was not his fault, if anything, it was "the Fed's," as if he himself was not really "the Fed" at the time.
The Republican success in the recent midterm election is being billed as a mandate---- but exactly what mandate do the hubris-filled Republicans claim they have been given? They are running several scenarios up the flagpole, or, if you prefer, they are trying on various costumes and trotting down the runway to see which ones are suitable for the upcoming fancy dress ball they will attend in January. The various factions within the GOP, from libertarian to Tea Party, Wall Street to globalal corporations, religious fanatics to seething bigots, are drafting their wish lists, most of which will turn out to be non-negotiable demands to repeal anything even faintly tainted with a Democratic label, and that basically amounts to just about everything that came out of the 20th century. (Maybe even some of the wars, believe it or not).
Yesterday, while being endorsed by something called the Modern Whig Party (seriously!), 2nd CD independent candidate (vs. Rep. Glenn Nye and Republican nominee Scott Rigell) Kenny Golden endorsed Ron Paul for Speaker of the House. The only problem with Ron Paul is that he's about as extreme as you can get in American politics. A few of his ratings from Project Vote Smart: ZERO from NARAL Pro-Choice America; ZERO from Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund; ZERO from the Humane Society; 8% from the NAACP, 100% from the Eagle Forum; F from the National Education Association; ZERO from the American Association of University Women; ZERO from the League of Women Voters; ZERO from the League of Conservation Voters; ZERO from the Children's Health Fund; ZERO from the American Public Health Association; ZERO from the AFL-CIO; ZERO from the Military Officers Association of America; ZERO from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology; ZERO from NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby; F from the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy; F from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America; ZERO from the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law; ZERO from the American Association of University Women; etc., etc.
Plus, let's not forget his "decades worth of obsession with conspiracies, sympathy for the right-wing militia movement, and deeply held bigotry against blacks, Jews, and gays." Other than that, he's a great choice for Speaker of the House. Nice job, Mr. Golden!
Kenny Golden, independent candidate in the Virginia 2nd Congressional District who proposes a widened conflict in Afghanistan and war in Pakistan announced via tweet that he is off to court Ron Paul's support today. Golden, who sailed by Pakistan in the navy, justifies the incursion by citing the tragedy of 9/11.
A Virginian Pilot reporter suggests that an endorsement from Paul could generate significant Hampton Roads Tea Party support. But, this fanciful scenario requires the Congressman from Texas to abandon the Republican Party candidate, Scott Rigel, and reverse his position on the adventures in Southwest Asia.
Golden has garnered the endorsement of another Texan, Democrat Kinky Friedman. Support from Virginians is less forthcoming.
I love the reaction of the Republican audience - dead silence, utter confusion - to Ron Paul's assertion that Barack Obama is not, repeat NOT, a "socialist." After being told for months by their "leaders," including famed political science theorist Sarah Palin (heh), that Obama is a "socialist," (Dictionary.com defition: "in Marxist theory) the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles."), now Ron Paul is telling them that Obama's actually a "corporatist" (Free Dictionary definition: "Theory and practice of organizing the whole of society into corporate entities subordinate to the state."). Got that?
Yes, it's confusing. I mean, how can Obama simultaneously be attempting to push the United States from "the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism" while working hard to entrench corporate power and influence in our country? In the case of health care reform, of course the private health insurance companies are not eliminated, but in fact they get more customers in exchange for more regulation (on denials of coverage for pre-existing conditions, etc.). How that is either "socialism" or "corporatism" is hard to see, but Republicans are busy making both arguments. This, despite the fact that the non-partisan Kaiser Health News finds the 2009 Senate bill to be eerily similar to a major 1993 GOP health care proposal, the "Health Equity and Access Reform Today Act of 1993." It seems self contradictory, unless of course you realize that the rationale doesn't matter so much as the conclusion: that, no matter what he does, Barack Obama simply must be wrong, by definition. If you buy that, all else follows. If not, you get a really, really bad headache trying to make sense of it all.
P.S. The correct answer? If he has secret "socialist" or "corporatist" plans, Barack Obama has hidden them well. In reality, Obama to date has been about as centrist/moderate a president as you can get, on pretty much every issue (foreign policy, domestic policy, etc.). Of course, that's not nearly as fun as throwing hysterical accusations around, so carry on...
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