February 24th, 2012
In Michigan, Candidate Sharpens Small-Government Message as He Seeks to Thwart Santorum
MILFORD, Mich.—Mitt Romney didn't start his run for the presidency as a tea-party favorite. But he's campaigning as if he wants to become one, as he seeks to thwart rival Rick Santorum in Tuesday's primary elections in Michigan and Arizona.
Standing before a wall-size American flag in a banquet hall here, Mr. Romney drew cheers from some 500 tea-party supporters Thursday as he touched one chord after another that resonates with the limited-government movement.
"For me, the highest priority is to get America on track to have a balanced budget," Mr. Romney told the rally, organized by eight Southeast Michigan tea-party groups. The nation's mounting debt "is immoral," he said.
Programs for the poor, such as Medicaid, should be run by the states, "as the Constitution intended," he said. Federal workers? Mr. Romney won applause by saying he would cut their pay by 10%.
He said he backed right-to-work laws, which bar payment of union dues as a condition of employment. And when discussing how he could criticize a health-care law from President Barack Obama that looks like one Mr. Romney backed as Massachusetts governor, he reframed the issue in tea-party terms.
"I'd remind him of something called the 10th Amendment of the Constitution," Mr. Romney declared, nodding to complaints that the federal government has improperly stepped on powers reserved for the states.
Many of these policy ideas have long been part of Mr. Romney's platform, but he is giving it more rhetorical energy amid signs the GOP's most fiscally and socially conservative voters remain wary of Mr. Romney, in part because of the Massachusetts health law.
"He has nothing of substance to run against Barack Obama," says Bill Hollister, a leader of the Metro Detroit Freedom Coalition, or Medefco, a tea-party group in suburban Detroit.
Some of Mr. Romney's policies, however, are new. Burnishing his tax-cutting credentials, Mr. Romney this week called for a one-fifth cut in marginal tax rates for all taxpayers—a proposal he featured before the tea-party crowd.
A report Thursday by the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonprofit group, said Mr. Romney's fiscal proposals, like those of the other main GOP candidates except Texas Rep. Ron Paul would likely increase, not decrease, the federal debt.
Mr. Romney's new policy and emphasis come just ahead of primary contests in Michigan and Arizona on Tuesday that will be pivotal for both the Romney and Santorum campaigns. Mr. Santorum, once a long-shot for the GOP nomination, could secure his status as the front runner with wins in the two states. A loss by Mr. Romney in Michigan, where he was born and where his father was a three-term governor, would be an embarrassing setback.
Moreover, Mr. Romney is trying to reassure donors and GOP elected leaders he can win over the party's base. Two national polls this week found Mr. Santorum leading Mr. Romney among three key sets of core GOP voters.
In one of the national polls, by Quinnipiac University, Mr. Santorum led by 18 percentage points among self-described conservatives, by 26 points among white evangelicals, and by 31 points among tea-party supporters. Overall, the survey found Mr. Santorum leading by nine points among GOP voters, 35 % to 26%.
In Michigan it's a different picture, as Mr. Romney appears to have rebounded from a falloff in support. In one recent survey, by Mitchell Research of Michigan and Rosetta Stone Communications of Atlanta, Mr. Romney had closed a substantial gap with Mr. Santorum among tea-party voters and had narrowed the gap among evangelicals and conservatives. Mr. Romney led overall by three percentage points, well within the poll's margin of error.
In a primary where turnout is often low, the most committed voters in the party's base can wield strong influence.
Social conservatives and fiscal conservatives aren't necessarily different groups, and Mr. Santorum's appeal, which is heavier on social policy, resonates with voters who identify with both. "We call ourselves 'teavangelicals,' " said Glenn Clark, a Santorum activist and president of the Michigan Faith and Freedom Coalition.
In the conservative strongholds of Western Michigan, Mr. Santorum played to capacity crowds earlier this week. At Hope College, in Holland, students and local residents crammed into overflow rooms after the speech hall filled up.
"We wanted to look him in the eye and see if he's real," said Donna Heuker, a beauty-shop owner from Hudsonville who attended Mr. Santorum's speech with her husband, John. "He solidified what I already thought about him."
Mr. Santorum is also directing appeals to tea-party conservatives. At a rally this week in Tucson, Ariz., he thanked the movement for delivering key wins in the 2010 election. "I am so grateful for what the tea party has done to revitalize the conservative spirit within the Republican Party," he said.
As Mr. Romney works to diminish skepticism among tea-party activists, his newly sharpened message may be helping. Pat Iaquinto of Commerce, Mich. said he was undecided when he came to see Mr. Romney speak in Milford. "I think I am leaning toward Romney," he said after hearing him talk.
Mr. Iaquinto, who owns a firm supplying glass and metal products to the building trades, said his top concerns are cutting federal spending, balancing the budget and "getting rid of Obamacare"—all issues Mr. Romney stressed.
Democrats said they welcome the tea-party tilt of the GOP contest, which most still expect Mr. Romney to win.
"He's moving further and further to the right," Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer said of Mr. Romney. "This will all come back to haunt him in the fall."
More in US
February 24th, 2012
- Cliff Kincaid
The Russia Today (RT) Moscow-funded propaganda channel, which is backing the murderous regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, aired a special program on Tuesday night on how progressives in the U.S. can “Take Back the American Dream” by defeating Republicans. The propaganda effort was broadcast throughout the United States and produced in collaboration with major liberal groups such as the Campaign for America’s Future, MoveOn.org and Demos, all of them Soros-funded.
The host was Thom Hartmann, who regards himself as the nation’s number one progressive radio talk-show host.
The “National Teach-In to Take Back the American Dream” featured Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor; Heather McGhee of Demos; Leo Hindrey, a businessman and self-styled “Patriotic Millionaire;” Natalie Foster, the co-founder of Rebuild the Dream; and Robert Borosage of the Campaign for America’s Future.
Nobody on the program, which also aired on DISH Network, DirectTV and the Free Speech TV Network, demonstrated any concern about appearing on a Moscow-funded channel to promote the “American dream.”
The Russian regime, which has a habit of murdering journalists and political opponents, has a covert and overt program of manipulation of the Western media, similar to what the old Soviet KGB used to specialize in. Interestingly, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has just posted a blog on The Huffington Post, one of RT’s official “partners” in the media business.
However, demonstrating sensitivity to the charge that he is a paid Russian agent working in the progressive movement, Thom Hartmann has refused to discuss how much the Russians pay him to air his program “The Big Picture” on RT. When I questioned him about this, he actually grabbed my camera recording his response in order to avoid being seen stonewalling.
RT is the same channel that recently announced it was going to host a show with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, now under investigation for espionage against the U.S. The alleged WikiLeaks source for the largest theft of classified documents in U.S. history, Pfc. Bradley Manning, is being formally arraigned on February 23 on charges that include aiding the enemy.
In this video, produced by Accuracy in Media, several Soviet-like broadcasts are shown on RT featuring denunciations of the U.S. This is fairly typical of the fare offered by RT.
The Vladimir Putin regime started the channel in order to promote Russian interests abroad and serve as a cover for Russian intelligence operations. Anti-communist blogger Trevor Loudon calls RT “a propaganda arm of the Putin-Medvedev-KGB-run Russian thugocracy” and notes that former KGB officer Konstantin Preobrazhensky has described it as a channel for disinformation and propaganda from the Russian intelligence services. Medvedev is the current Russian president stepping down from the post at Putin’s direction so Putin can run again for president on March 4.
Putin, a former Soviet KGB officer, has just made headlines praising the Russian spies who stole U.S. atom bomb secrets.
Putin said, “You know, when the States already had nuclear weapons and the Soviet Union was only building them, we got a significant amount of information through Soviet foreign intelligence channels.” Putin was undoubtedly referring to atom bomb spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, members of the Communist Party who were executed for stealing U.S. atom bomb secrets on behalf of the Soviet Union.
These days, however, some Russian collaborators operate in the open, such as Hartmann and his ilk.
The purpose of the Hartmann show, a special edition of The Big Picture, was to push President Obama to the left, in terms of promoting more federal government economic programs, and discrediting proposals for smaller government and lower taxes coming from conservatives and Republicans. As such, however, the program may constitute foreign interference in U.S. election campaigns, a violation of federal election law.
The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) prohibits foreign corporations such as RT from contributing, donating or spending funds in connection with any federal, state, or local election in the United States, either directly or indirectly.
For purposes of the law, it can be argued that Hartmann, who is paid an unknown amount by the Russian regime, is operating as an agent of RT and prohibited from electioneering in the U.S.
The “American dream” show was promoted by many other liberal-left groups, including the AFL-CIO, without any hint that it was made possible through the generosity of the Russian regime. The Russia Today channel was referred to in promotional advertising simply as “RT TV,” which is how the channel wants to be known in the U.S., so that its Russian connection can be hidden from the viewing public.
Officially, however, RT is the first Russian 24/7 English-language news channel that promotes the Russian government’s view on global news. RT TV is the American-based arm of the news organization, which is headquartered in Moscow and completely paid for by the Russian regime.
Thom Hartmann used to be a host on Air America, the liberal radio network which went bankrupt because of mismanagement and lack of listeners. His mentality is illustrated by the title over an article on his blog, “Why do Republicans let sick Americans die just to avoid a legislative victory for President Obama?” The post in favor of socialized medicine was written by his wife, pictured here in an unusual pose for a liberal—firing a gun. “Don’t mess with Louise,” the caption says. Louise Hartmann produces his show.
Thom Hartmann serves on the advisory board of Progressive Democrats of America, along with such notables as Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, former Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) leader Tom Hayden, Steve Cobble of the Institute for Policy Studies, and left-wing Democratic members of Congress John Conyers (Michigan), Donna Edwards (Maryland), Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), Raul Grijalva (Arizona), Jim McGovern (Massachusetts) and Lynn Woolsey (California).
Most Recent from Cliff Kincaid
February 24th, 2012
He is regarded as the most famous atheist in the world but last night Professor Richard Dawkins admitted he could not be sure that God does not exist.
He told the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, that he preferred to call himself an agnostic rather than an atheist.
The two men were taking part in a public “dialogue” at Oxford University at the end of a week which has seen bitter debate about the role of religion in public life in Britain.
Last week Baroness Warsi, the Tory party chairman, warned of a tide of “militant secularism” challenging the religious foundations of British society.
The discussion, in Sir Christopher Wren’s Sheldonian Theatre, attracted attention from around the world.
As well as being relayed to two other theatres, it was streamed live on the internet and promoted fierce debate on the Twitter social network.
For an hour and 20 minutes the two men politely discussed "The nature of human beings and the question of their ultimate origin" touching on the meaning of consciousness, the evolution of human language – and Dr Williams’s beard.
For much of the discussion the Archbishop sat quietly listening to Prof Dawkins’s explanations of human evolution.
At one point he told the professor that he was “inspired” by “elegance” of the professor’s explanation for the origins of life – and agreed with much of it.
Prof Dawkins told him: “What I can’t understand is why you can’t see the extraordinary beauty of the idea that life started from nothing – that is such a staggering, elegant, beautiful thing, why would you want to clutter it up with something so messy as a God?”
Dr Williams replied that he “entirely agreed” with the “beauty” of Prof Dawkins’s argument but added: “I’m not talking about God as an extra who you shoehorn on to that.”
There was surprise when Prof Dawkins acknowledged that he was less than 100 per cent certain of his conviction that there is no creator.
The philosopher Sir Anthony Kenny, who chaired the discussion, interjected: “Why don’t you call yourself an agnostic?” Prof Dawkins answered that he did.
An incredulous Sir Anthony replied: “You are described as the world’s most famous atheist.”
Prof Dawkins said that he was “6.9 out of seven” sure of his beliefs.
“I think the probability of a supernatural creator existing is very very low,” he added.
He also said that he believed it was highly likely that there was life on other planets.
At one point he discussion strayed onto the theoretical question of whether a traditional cut throat razor could be described as a more complicated thing than an electric shaver.
There was laughter as the Archbishop said he would attempt an answer before adding: “Not that I know much about razors.”
During a wide-ranging discussion the Archbishop also said that he believed that human beings had evolved from non-human ancestors but were nevertheless “in the image of God”.
He also said that the explanation for the creation of the world in the Book of Genesis could not be taken literally.
“The writers of the Bible, inspired as I believe they were, they were nonetheless not inspired to do 21st Century physics,” he said.
When Prof Dawkins suggested that he believed the Pope took a rather more literal interpretation of the origins of humans, the Archbishop joked: “I will ask him some time.”
February 24th, 2012
CR edit note: We have each heard the rebukes from all sides of the political equation concerning Palin's resignation as Governor.
But, while the below article from Liberal Huffington can't help but be snarky, Palin's much debated reason for resigning her Governorship becomes crystal clear.
The harassment from the Left-Wing was just too much for both her family and the state of Alaska to either justify or afford any longer.
Case Resolved, Palin wins hands-down.
JUNEAU, Alaska -- Fed up with mounting legal bills and rattled by intense scrutiny of her family and work, Sarah Palin was ready to step down as Alaska's governor months before she left office in July 2009.
Emails released Thursday, most from the last 10 months of her time in office, show she told her husband in April, "I can't take it anymore" and complained to spokeswoman Sharon Leighow and aide Kris Perry in March that she had been the target of "many frivolous suits and charges since the DAY I became VP candidate."
"I can't afford this job," she wrote.
The emails illustrate what Palin has said all along: After running for vice president unsuccessfully with John McCain, she returned to Alaska to find that the financial and emotional drain of her gubernatorial job was too much. She flirted with a presidential run last year, but told supporters she instead was dedicating herself to "God, family and country." She currently serves as a commentator on Fox News.
In a March 19, 2009, email, Palin complained that more than 150 freedom of information requests had cost the state more than $1 million, adding: "and who knows what all the bogus ethics charges have cost the state."
She expressed anger at having to pay for her own defense, with a bill that at that point totaled more than $500,000, and said her husband had to go back to work on the North Slope to help deal with the growing costs.
"We've all had to pay for our OWN legal defense in this political bloodsport – it's horrendous – why do you think Todd is on the slope today?" Palin wrote. "I am paying to defend in my capacity as GOVERNOR – actions taken in my official position. This is unheard of anywhere else."
By the spring of 2009, the emails show, Palin was regularly butting heads with lawmakers of both parties over her absences from the Capitol.
"It's unacceptable, and there must be push back on their attempts to lame duck this administration," Palin wrote to her top aides on April 9.
Citizens and news organizations, including the AP, first requested Palin's emails in September 2008, as part of her vetting as the Republican vice presidential nominee. The state released a batch of the emails last June, a lag of nearly three years that was attributed to the sheer volume of the records and the flood of requests stemming from Palin's tenure.
The 24,199 pages of emails that were released last year ended in September 2008, as she was campaigning with GOP presidential nominee John McCain. Thursday's release includes 17,736 records, or 34,820 pages, generally spanning from October 2008 until Palin's resignation as Alaska governor, in July 2009.
Tim Crawford, treasurer of Sarah Palin's political action committee, said Thursday the emails "show a governor hard at work for her state."
Palin said a series of ethics complaints filed against her contributed to her decision to step down. In an April 2009 email, she commiserated over a story indicating another ethics complaint was to be filed: "Unflippinbelievable... I'm sending this because you can relate to the bullcrap continuation of the hell these people put the family through," she wrote to aides Ivy Frye and Frank Bailey.
Later that day, in an email to her husband and two top aides, on the issue, she said: "I can't take it anymore."
Earlier, after a Feb. 18, 2009, Washington Post story titled, "Back Home in Alaska, Palin finds cold comfort," was pointed out to her, she emailed her husband. "Would you pray for our strength. And for God to totally turn things around... Enough is enough. May we see victories and feel His hand of mercy and grace." He replies, "I did."
The emails indicate her job had taken a toll on her marriage long before she even became McCain's running mate.
In a Sept. 26, 2007, email to Kris Perry and her husband Todd, titled "Marital Problems," Palin writes: "So speaking of... If we, er, when we get a divorce, does that quell "conflict of interest" accusations about BP?" Her husband was a former BP employee on the North Slope.
Related News On Huffington Post:
February 23rd, 2012
In 2008, after hearing a case challenging the restrictive gun laws in Washington, D.C., the Supreme Court ordered local officials to make it possible for law-abiding citizens to own a gun.
It was a landmark Second Amendment win for gun rights advocates, but there is growing disagreement about what's happened in the wake of that ruling from the nation's highest court.