And yet another analysis of the race to become the Republican presidential nominee. There’s been no shortage of them. The latest one is from Doyle McManus of the LA Times and all of the usual suspects are mentioned – Romney, Huckabee, Pawlenty, Gingrich, Barbour, Santorum, Thune, Paul and Palin. Here’s the line that caught my eye.
There are really only two spots on the GOP presidential ballot. One is reserved for Mitt Romney. The other is for someone who isn’t Mitt Romney.
This is true. If there has been one consistent item in the gazillion polls done to date on which Republican has the best chance of defeating Barack Obama in 2012, it’s that Romney is their man. But Republican politics have taken a hard turn to the ideological right which makes the nominating process more complex than it used to be.
If the Republican Party worked the way it used to, Romney already would be the presumptive nominee. For decades, Republican governors and state party chairs coalesced early around a tested, experienced candidate — George H. W. Bush in 1988, Bob Dole in 1996, George W. Bush in 2000 — and helped him fight off insurgent challengers.
It is quite possible that the artificially created Tea Party movement which has now taken on a life of its own, will prove to be more of a hindrance than help for the GOP. They’re already creating problems for Republicans in the House.
But in the end I don’t think it really matters who is running against Barack Obama in 2012. His opponent won’t be a Republican, male or female. It’ll be a much more formidable foe – the economy. If it’s on the upswing come November of 2012, then an Obama second term is almost guaranteed. Should it be sluggish or declining, then I imagine that even dopey Michele Bachmann would stand a chance at victory.
Note to George Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, et al, you don’t have to bomb a country (or two) to instill “Democracy” in the Middle East. Real Democracy is a process implemented by the people of that region and governed by the people.
Now that Hosni Mubarak is getting accustomed to life as an ex-dictator, Barack Obama and his foreign-policy aides have a new task. Washington has publicly called for an Egyptian transition to democracy, which Egypt has never known. To avoid a continuation of dictatorial rule under a new strongman — or a dangerous power vacuum as weaker players try to seize control — Egypt will need to see the lightning-fast development of long-suppressed political parties. So the U.S. is preparing a new package of assistance to Egyptian opposition groups, designed to help with constitutional reform, democratic development and election organizing, State Department officials tell TIME. The package is still being formulated, and the officials decline to say how much it would be worth or to which groups it would be directed.
White House officials declined to say whether any of the new money would be directed to the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s most prominent Islamist party.
The Obama Administration cut democracy-and-governance aid to Egyptian opposition groups in its first two years in office, from $45 million in George W. Bush’s last budget to $25 million for the 2010 and 2011 fiscal years. The Obama Administration also stopped providing aid to groups that had not registered with the Egyptian government, drawing criticism from human-rights organizations. The Administration has had conversations with Egyptian government officials, including the Egyptian envoy to the U.S., Ambassador Sameh Shoukry, about the provision of new aid, sources tell TIME. Read more here…
Thanks to the SCOTUS ruling on Citizens United v FEC, the Koch brothers will once again wield their enormous power to influence the 2012 elections. Democrats had a chance to pass laws to circumvent the power of the Citizens United decision when they had both houses, but failed to do so.
In an expansion of their political footprint, the billionaire Koch brothers plan to contribute and steer a total of $88 million to conservative causes during the 2012 election cycle, according to sources, funding a new voter micro-targeting initiative, grass-roots organizing efforts and television advertising campaigns.
In fact, as the annual Conservative Political Action Conference meets this week in Washington and conservatives assess the state of their movement, the Koch network of nonprofit groups, once centered on sleepy free-enterprise think tanks, seems to be emerging as a more ideological counterweight to the independent Republican political machine conceived by Bush-era GOP operatives Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie before the 2010 midterm elections.
The aggressive embrace of political activism by the Koch brothers, Charles and David, has cheered fiscal conservatives, who hope they will reorient the conservative political apparatus around free-market, small government principles and candidates, and away from the electability-over-principles approach they see Rove and Gillespie as embodying.
But not everyone on the right is happy about the brothers’ increasing political profile. Some conservatives complain that the political operatives who work for the Kochs don’t play well with others in the movement and worry that their efforts to steer big money to favored groups undermines other, potentially valuable conservative efforts.
Among leaders of conservative groups “there is the impression that there is a lot of favoritism, not necessarily from the Kochs, but from those the Koch brothers rely on to administer the money, and there are concerns about whether the best groups are being helped, or whether it’s just the groups that they happen to play favorites with,” said Erick Erickson, founder of the influential Red State blog and a CNN political analyst.
Egypt’s vice president says Hosni Mubarak has resigned as president and handed control to the military.
Car horns were heard around Cairo in celebration after Vice President Omar Suleiman made the announcement on national TV on Friday.
“In these difficult circumstances that the country is passing through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave the position of the presidency,” Suleiman said. He has commissioned the armed forces council to direct the issues of the state.”
Think about this: How many times have we heard the GOP and Tea Party talk about “individual freedoms” and “less government intrusion in our lives”? Yet, the main priority of the GOP majority house leaders is to gut the current abortion law as it currently stands on the books.
How the hell does one campaign on individual freedoms and proceed to take away those freedoms (which by the way is federal LAW) from women?
Rachel Maddow breaks it down with her usual flare and ability to make her presentation clear and concise…
About a year ago, Glenn Greenwald wrote a piece in Salon which supports what Rachel has to say in the video above:
There’s a major political fraud underway: the GOP is once again donning their libertarian, limited-government masks in order to re-invent itself and, more important, to co-opt the energy and passion of the Ron-Paul-faction that spawned and sustains the “tea party” movement. The Party that spat contempt at Paul during the Bush years and was diametrically opposed to most of his platform now pretends to share his views. Standard-issue Republicans and Ron Paul libertarians are as incompatible as two factions can be — recall that the most celebrated right-wing moment of the 2008 presidential campaign was when Rudy Giuliani all but accused Paul of being an America-hating Terrorist-lover for daring to suggest that America’s conduct might contribute to Islamic radicalism — yet the Republicans, aided by the media, are pretending that this is one unified, harmonious, “small government” political movement.
The Right is petrified that this fraud will be exposed and is thus bending over backwards to sustain the myth. Paul was not only invited to be a featured speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference but also won its presidential straw poll. Sarah Palin endorsed Ron Paul’s son in the Kentucky Senate race. National Review is lavishly praising Paul, while Ann Coulter “felt compelled [in her CPAC speech] to give a shout out to Paul-mania, saying she agreed with everything he stands for outside of foreign policy — a statement met with cheers.” Glenn Beck — who literally cheered for the Wall Street bailout and Bush’s endlessly expanding surveillance state — now parades around as though he shares the libertarians’ contempt for them. Red State’s Erick Erickson, defending the new so-called conservative “manifesto,” touts the need for Congress to be confined to the express powers of Article I, Section 8, all while lauding a GOP Congress that supported countless intrusive laws — from federalized restrictions on assisted suicide, marriage, gambling, abortion and drugs to intervention in Terri Schiavo’s end-of-life state court proceeding — nowhere to be found in that Constitutional clause. With the GOP out of power, Fox News suddenly started featuring anti-government libertarians such as John Stossel and Reason Magazine commentators, whereas, when Bush was in power, there was no government power too expanded or limitless for Fox propagandists to praise.
Nancy Pelosi’s extremely blunt assessments of the true motives of Republicans are why her supporters love her and her enemies hate her with equal passion, and on a conference call with bloggers just now, she unleashed a slashing attack on the House GOP’s new anti-abortion push that may churn up emotions on both sides.
Pelosi — who promised a huge fight against House Republicans over the issue in the days ahead — didn’t hold back one bit, claiming the new legislative push by Republicans “disrespects the judgment of American women.”
“I don’t know if they ever give that a thought,” she added.
Pelosi described the GOP push as the “most radical assault” on women’s reproductive rights “in our lifetimes.” And she was equally blunt in her assessment of right-wing assaults on family planning.
“They are at a different philosophical place,” she said, characterizing their view as: “all engagement has to result in a child.” Pelosi noted that contraception and family planning is “not consistent with their belief that it’s all about procreation.”
House Republicans have begun work on two bills that would dramatically restrict financing of and access to abortions. They are also looking to zero out funding for Title X, a decades-old program providing federal funds to family planning and reproductive health, which would be a hard hit to Planned Parenthood.
Pelosi indicated that the House Dem Pro-Choice Caucus, which numbers more than 150, would fan out in their communities and argue that Republicans are pushing an extreme agenda that would decimate women’s reproductive rights. She added that Dems would push the message that the GOP push — which means small businesses could lose tax credits to buy health insurance for employees if they choos a plan that covers reproductive health care — constitutes a “tax hike on women and small businesses.”
Pelosi acknowledged that Dems could not stop Republicans from passing their anti-abortion agenda through the House. But she said it was crucial that pro-choice forces and Dems kick up enough noise to ensure that it dies in the Senate: “We have to make this issue too hot to handle.”
Pelosi added that the unreconcilable philosophical differences between Republicans and Dems on abortion left Dems no choice but to adopt a scorched-earth approach to the war ahead. “We don’t have a set of shared values,” she said. “We have to fight this out in the public domain, so when we move to the Senate it has no popular support.”
Pelosi added that this fight was a good way to drive home the reality of GOP extremism to women who were not energized last November, a key swing demographic.
The GOP has sought to wrap its anti-abortion push in the language of fiscal responsibility, but Pelosi’s no-holds-barred approach suggests this war could end up being fought out squarely on old culture-war turf.
As huge crowds packed central Cairo Friday, calling anew for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s military chiefs pledged to back the authoritarian leader’s decision to remain in office.
The armed forces did not move against the demonstrators, however, and the statement from the supreme military council said it would guarantee “free and honest” elections and a lifting of Egypt’s 30-year-old state of emergency once calm returned to the streets.
In a statement read on state television, the council endorsed Mubarak’s move the night before to transfer most of his powers to his hand-picked vice president, Omar Suleiman. It also encouraged protesters to go home, citing the need to “return to normal life.”
Instead, waves of people continued to course into Tahrir Square, and anger and frustration mounted as word spread of the military’s stance.
“Mubarak must go! He is finished!” protesters shouted as a sea of people waved red-white-and-black Egyptian flags.
At a smaller demonstration at the presidential palace, in the affluent northern suburb of Heliopolis, Taha Nahas predicted that the military’s statement would backfire and that Egyptians who had seen the armed forces as an honest protector of their interests would change their minds.