May 9th, 2012
CBS News / By John Dickerson
CR Note: "an act of conviction and political expediency--what measure of each we may never know"--puhlease...Obama's coming out TODAY is a political move...nothing more, nothing less...
(CBS News) Joe Biden has such power over evolution he might make an amoeba get up and walk. Three days ago the vice president announced on Meet the Press that he supported same-sex couples getting married. Wednesday, President Obama announced that after a many-year evolution on the issue, he believed the same thing. The first African-American president became the first ever to announce his support for same-sex marriage.
This is a landmark civil rights moment that happened awfully fast. It was both an act of conviction and political expediency--what measure of each we may never know. What we do know is that this was the president's private position. What's less well known is the thinking behind the timing of the announcement. White House and campaign officials have been talking about it for months. According to several sources involved in the campaign, the president was going to make his announcement soon, before the convention (and maybe even very soon) if for no other reason than to avoid a fight over the party platform and to rally gay supporters. Biden stepped on his plan, making it look like the president was backing into a decision and controlled by events.
This looks like another instance of the vice president stumbling his way into the history books. But Barack Obama's untenable position is every bit as culpable for the firestorm and rushed decision. The president was for gay marriage in private but wouldn't say so in public. He told the Justice Department to inform the courts that it believed the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and should be struck down. He said he was "evolving" which made it clear that it was a matter of time before he came to the enlightened position of supporting same-sex marriage (or simply announced a long-held private view that had been constrained by politics). It has been a long evolution for the president. In his 2006 book, The Audacity of Hope, he wrote that he was "open to the possibility that my unwillingness to support gay marriage is misguided."
The administration policy on marriage equality was a jerky spasm of winks and nods. It was the domestic equivalent of the "One China Policy," the strategic ambiguity that allows the United States to support Taiwan but not support its bid for independence, which angers China. It's policy by omission, not commission. It's not a policy that makes sense entirely, but it's a nonpolicy that everyone has agreed to simply treat like it makes sense. (The agreement that Starbucks makes good coffee is the consumer product equivalent.)
The White House at first tried to pretend there was nothing new about Biden's remarks. Campaign and administration aides said that he was being totally consistent with the president's view. This wasn't exactly true, but under the agreement to keep everything in limbo it might have held. This was a good storyline to get out if the president really was planning a coming announcement. Only if Biden didn't appear to be getting out ahead of the president could the president take the leading position.
The problem, say Democrats, is that the Biden comments poked an existing bruise among the president's supporters in the gay community. The rush to bowdlerize what Biden had said turned a glancing tap of the bruise into a grinding fist.
A source who raises money for Democrats says that Obama has mostly maxed out with donations from the gay political community, but that his Super PAC and other nonaffiliated support groups still need massive high-dollar donations. A lot of potential donors are influential members of the gay community who follow the same-sex marriage issue closely and who were likely to be most offended by the president holding on to his same, "evolving" stance. How could an Obama bundler--one of those financial backers who raises huge sums from their circle of friends--who had been convincing those same friends that the president was with them, continue to make calls with this fresh slap in the face. Says the Democratic fundraiser: "Once this became a litmus test if you're a gay bundler, after 100 hours saying 'the president is going to do the right thing' now you're calling saying 'sorry this happened, but I can't raise another dollar unless you do the right thing.' "
As a matter of narrative continuity, it was probably also a wise political move for the president to take a stand. The Obama campaign has consistently claimed that his opponent lacks a moral core; he shades and capers and doesn't tell you what he believes in his heart. This was all true of the president's position on gay marriage. It's good for him to be free of that wrinkle, though narrative continuity (running a campaign that makes sense) probably has a limited affect on voters and their final choices.
What was less clear was whether the president was exercising logical continuity. Based on the limited transcripts of the interview, the president said he supported same-sex marriage but didn't think it was a right. He said the states could continue to handle the issue as they saw fit. Forty-four states right now do not allow it. Under this same line of thinking, in 1967 he would have supported the right for interracial couples to marry but would have thought Virginia had a right not to allow it.
Shortly after Obama's comments, Mitt Romney reasserted his opposition to same-sex marriage and took the opportunity to point out that he had never wavered in that stance. Republican organizer Ralph Reed said the president's "flip-flop" on gay marriage would doom him. It's certain the president just helped Mitt Romney consolidate his base. How it will play in the wider electorate is less clear. The latest Pew Research Center survey found that Americans back same-sex marriage 47 to 43. The decision will turn off working class voters but perhaps energize younger voters and college educated suburban voters.
The political machinations of the moment were fascinating--what will this mean to Hispanics in North Carolina?--but this election is not going to turn on same-sex marriage. Romney wants to keep focused on the economy. The president wants to divert from certain conversations about the economy but not to this issue.
A lot of people have been comparing this election to the 2004 race. Today, they get another data point. During that election, President Bush called for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. According to White House sources at the time, it was an effort to stir the conservative GOP base in what the president and his team knew would be a close election. Obama's support for gay marriage may not have been aimed at getting the base excited as much as keeping some of its influential members from being angry. That anger would have been far more muted had it not been for Joe Biden. The president could blame his No. 2, but since Biden led to the culmination of Obama's evolutionary journey and put him on the right side of history, perhaps the president should thank him.
May 9th, 2012
Statesman.com / By Stephen Ohlemacher
WASHINGTON — Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won most of the delegates in Tuesday's three-state primary sweep and added a few more Wednesday from past contests to be less than 200 delegates away from clinching the Republican presidential nomination.
He could reach that goal by the end of the month.
Romney has 966 delegates. It takes 1,144 delegates to secure the nomination to take on President Barack Obama in November. Romney has 178 delegates to go, although his campaign is already in general election mode.
Texas' Rep. Ron Paul, the only other Republican still in the race, has 104 delegates.
Romney won 84 of the 107 delegates at stake in Tuesday's primaries in North Carolina, Indiana and West Virginia. He also picked up an endorsement from Ada Fisher, a Republican National Committee member from North Carolina who will automatically attend the GOP convention.
Paul, who does better in caucuses than primaries, won just six delegates Tuesday — two fewer than Rick Santorum, who dropped out of the race a month ago. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who quit the race last week, won four delegates. Five delegates were designated as uncommitted.
Romney also picked up 19 delegates in Pennsylvania and six in Nevada.
In Nevada's presidential caucuses in February, Romney won 14 delegates, Gingrich won six, Paul got five and Santorum got three. But with Gingrich and Santorum out of the race, the Nevada GOP redistributed its delegates Wednesday, giving Romney 20 and Paul eight.
- Perry pushes budget compact at relocated Cedar Park tech company
- Teen offenders who fled Austin halfway house captured, official says
- Concerns raised over long-term use of bone drugs
- Facing opposition, TxDOT ditches plan to limit left turns on Loop 360
- Austin to re-examine incentive policies for big businesses
- First task for UT law dean: Smooth out 'bumps'
- Lawmakers review mental health programs
May 9th, 2012
By Dan Gilgoff and Dave Alsup, CNN
(CNN) – Delta Airlines has pulled its advertising from “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” over a skit in which Stewart featured a picture of a manger in between a naked woman’s legs, the company said Tuesday.
In the April skit, Stewart jokingly encouraged women to use “vagina mangers” to “protect their reproductive organs from unwanted medical intrusions.”
In a statement Tuesday, Delta Airlines spokesperson Leslie Parker said that “We're always re-evaluating our advertising opportunities and updating our strategy in an effort to reach our desired audience.”
“Delta doesn't discriminate nor do we condone discrimination in regard to age, race, nationality, sexual orientation, religion or gender,” Parker’s statement continued. She said that Delta made the decision to pull its ads on Thursday.
The Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights, a conservative group that has waged a weeks-long campaign pressuring Stewart to apologize for the skit, had pressured Delta and other Comedy Central advertisers to pull their Daily Show ads.
Catholic League President Bill Donohue has encouraged a boycott of Kellogg’s because it has declined to pull its spots.
On Tuesday, Donohue announced that he’d sent a letter to the leadership at Viacom, the corporate parent of Comedy Central, which airs “The Daily Show.”
“You should be as offended as we are,” the letter said. “But if you are not, consider a picture of your own mother inserted there instead. Perhaps you now understand how the 80% of the nation that is Christian feel.”
“What Stewart did wasn’t a joke,” Donohue’s letter continued. “It was hate speech. We could have pressed for him to be fired, but we did not. All we want is an apology.”
Media representatives at Comedy Central did not immediately respond to a request for comment. At a stand-up appearance in Florida last month, Stewart acknowledged the Catholic League’s campaign against him, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
“I'm not going to censor myself to comfort your ignorance," Stewart said, decrying what he called the cable news-fueled “outrage machine.”
Tops at CNN Belief Blog
May 9th, 2012
BLS Note: The funny part of this story is that the very thing that initially drove prices up into the stratosphere goes unmentioned. Remember the Strait of Hormuz threats by Iran? Those Iranian threats were what initially drove the prices up back in January. That, along with renewed optimism on both the US and Eurozone economies.
Now each of these issues are waning balefully which speaks to the fact that speculators see less demand around the corner and voila', the prices are pressured downwards. But lose one leg of this particular stool......nevermind, Israel and what plans she has laid.
By Associated Press
Gasoline prices likely won't set any records this summer, thanks to a recent drop in the price of oil.
The government Tuesday slashed its forecast for average gas prices to $3.79 per gallon for the summer driving season. That's down from an initial estimate of $3.95 and below 2008's record average of $3.80.
The Energy Information Administration's revised forecast is encouraging news for the economy. Some economists blame high pump prices for so-so consumer spending this year. They were also seen as a factor in the loss of 35,000 retail jobs in February and March.
Gasoline prices soared 20 percent from January to early April.
A few analysts warned drivers they could pay as much as $5 this summer, eclipsing the 2008 record of $4.11 per gallon.
Not anymore. The price of benchmark crude has dropped about $8 per barrel since early April. Retail gas prices have followed, falling 17 cents since reaching $3.936 on April 5.
"It's almost like a tax cut," said Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. EIA's prediction means that motorists will spend about $10.7 billion less on gasoline than previously anticipated.
Last year, drivers paid an average of $3.71 per gallon from April to September, a period the government considers the peak driving season.
Gasoline will likely become less of a campaign issue. Republican presidential candidates hammered at President Obama as prices jumped this year, even though presidents have little sway over pump prices. If gasoline gets even cheaper, experts think it will likely get knocked from the top tier of campaign issues.
"To not have gas prices nipping at your heels in an election is obviously favorable to the incumbent," said Bernstein, who was formerly an economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden.
It's still a bit of a mixed bag for the president. Part of the reason oil prices have declined during the past month is sluggishness in the U.S. economy, highlighted by a disappointing jobs report last week.
Europe helped sink oil prices as well. Some European countries are in recession and election results in France and Greece over the weekend threaten to derail the eurozone's plan for recovery.
Oil is down nearly 12 percent since peaking near $110 per barrel in February. As oil prices fall, it becomes cheaper for refineries to make gasoline and other fuels, and some of that savings eventually gets passed along in the form of cheaper pump prices.
Gasoline prices have tracked oil lower. The national average for gas is now $3.76 per gallon, according to auto club AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. That's 20 cents cheaper than a year ago.
The EIA says that gasoline prices should average $3.71 per gallon for all of 2012, down 10 cents from April's estimate. The EIA's forecast for next year is $3.67 per gallon.
Lower gasoline prices will allow many drivers to keep a few extra dollars in their pocket every time they fill up. That could encourage more drivers to take their cars out for a spin this summer, but overall demand is expected to be lower than last year.
MasterCard SpendingPulse said Tuesday that average gasoline demand fell 6.1 percent last week in the U.S. Its analysis of credit card purchases shows that American drivers have purchased less gasoline every week for more than a year.
May 9th, 2012
- Prisoner Keith Judd got 40% of vote in West Virginia to Obama's 60%
- Inmate 11593-051 got on ballot by paying $2,500 fee and filing forms
- Attracting 15% of vote normally qualifies candidate for a delegate to the Democratic National Convention
Just how unpopular is President Obama in some parts of the country? Enough that a man in prison in Texas received four out of 10 votes in West Virginia's Democratic presidential primary.
Inmate Keith Judd is serving 17 years for extortion at the Beaumont Federal Correctional Institution in Texas.
With 93 per cent of precincts reporting, Obama was receiving just under 60 per cent of the vote to Judd's 40 per cent.
Popular prisoner: Inmate Keith Judd (pictured left) who is serving time at the Beaumont Federal Correctional Institution in Texas, received around 40% of votes in West Virginia's primary, coming a close second to President Obama
For some West Virginia Democrats, simply running against Obama is enough to get Judd, or Inmate Number 11593-051, votes.
'I voted against Obama,' said Ronnie Brown, a 43-year-old electrician from Cross Lanes who called himself a conservative Democrat.
'I don't like him. He didn't carry the state before and I'm not going to let him carry it again.'
When asked which presidential candidate he voted for, Brown said: 'That guy out of Texas.'
Judd was able to get on the state ballot by paying a $2,500 fee and filing a form known as a notarized certification of announcement, said Jake Glance, a spokesman for the Secretary of State's office.
Attracting at least 15 per cent of the vote would normally qualify a candidate for a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.
Jaded: Some voters said they were happy to vote for anyone besides Obama
But state Democratic Party Executive Director Derek Scarbro said no one has filed to be a delegate for Judd.
The state party also believes that Judd has failed to file paperwork required of presidential candidates, but officials continued to research the matter, Scarbro said.
Voters in other conservative states showed their displeasure with Obama in Democratic primaries last March.
In Oklahoma, anti-abortion protestor Randall Terry got 18 per cent of the primary vote. A lawyer from Tennessee, John Wolfe, pulled nearly 18,000 votes in the Louisiana primary.
Winning: Presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won West Virginia's GOP primary Tuesday with more than 69 per cent of the vote
In Alabama, 18 per cent of Democratic voters chose 'uncommitted' in the primary rather than vote for Obama.
Obama's energy policies and the Environmental Protection Agency's handling of mining-related permits have incurred the wrath of West Virginia's coal industry.
With the state the nation's second-biggest producer of this fossil fuel, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and Senator Joe Manchin - both Democrats have championed the industry - have declined to say whether they will support Obama in November.
Hillary Rodham Clinton beat Obama in the state's 2008 primary, and he lost the state to Republican John McCain in the general election.
The latest state-by-state Gallup poll, released in January, found Obama with a 32.7 per cent approval rating in West Virginia.
The president had a lower approval rating only in Utah, Idaho, Oklahoma and Wyoming.
'Keith Judd's performance is embarrassing for Obama and our great state,' outgoing West Virginia GOP Chairman Mike Stuart said.
Presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won West Virginia's GOP primary on Tuesday with more than 69 per cent of the vote, with 93 per cent of precincts reporting. Rick Santorum followed with 12 per cent, while Ron Paul had 11 per cent.
Mr Brown, the Cross Lanes electrician, went to the polls on Tuesday with his 22-year-old daughter, Emily. She planned to vote for Judd too until she found out where Judd has been living.
'I'm not voting for somebody who's in prison,' she said.
However she was certain about one thing: 'I just want to vote against Barack Obama.'