Ron Paul has announced he is ending his campaign ...kinda. He's going to stop spending money on primaries, which is a little like Kim Kardashian announcing she's going to stop spending all that time thinking about organic chemistry. It's a switch, but only kinda sorta.
And we KNOW, Ron Paul people. It's all because Ron Paul is not just a candidate, he's an idea. Or a movement. Or whatever, he's certainly never going to be President of the United States. But he will persist.
The animating force behind Ron Paul's endurance has never been campaign spending, it is indeed an idea. A really shitty idea, promoted by Right Wingers as a free market utopia without the horrible burdens of stable currency or child labor laws.
The originator of this idea is occasionally enthusiastically embraced by conservatives as providing a consistent philosophical basis for shitty policy. Her name is Ayn Rand, and people like Paul Ryan just love, love, love her ... until they remember that she hates their religion and thinks it's silly. Then the walk back begins.
But having introduced Rand in the upper hierarchy of the Republican Party, she may not be so easy to dismiss. The ghost?or zombie, if you will?of Ayn Rand lingers in the Republican party, a reminder that it is a party with deep divisions?and policy based on ideas that don't just contradict each other, but are downright willing to fight it out in a back alley at night.
Some conventional wisdom got sorely tested today, in the relatively smallish sampling of polls released on this primary Tuesday (if you are voting in Nebraska, Idaho, and Oregon).
President Obama is in trouble!
(Unless you count New Hampshire, where a new poll has him outpacing his 2008 margins. Or even the House of Ras, where has made up 6 points in three days)
President Obama is doing just fine!
(Unless you count Wisconsin, where PPP has the state at just a one-point margin)
A Republican can't win in the House in Massachusetts!
(Unless you buy a new poll by a Republican challenger, one that has him leading a veteran Democratic House incumbent)
The gubernatorial race in North Carolina is a lost cause!
(Except PPP has the Democrat halving the Republican lead, in the wake of a competitive primary).
Let's get to the numbers:
PRESIDENTIAL GENERAL ELECTION TRIAL HEATS:
NATIONAL (Gallup Tracking): Obama d. Romney (46-45)DOWNBALLOT POLLING:
NATIONAL (PPP for Daily Kos/SEIU): Obama d. Romney (48-46)
NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Romney d. Obama (47-45)
NEW HAMPSHIRE (PPP): Obama d. Romney (53-41)
WISCONSIN (PPP): Obama d. Romney (47-46)
MA-06 (Global Strategy Group for Tierney): Rep. John Tierney (D) 46, Richard Tisei (R) 31A few thoughts, as always, await you just past the jump...
MA-06 (McLaughlin and Associates for Tisei): Richard Tisei (R) 40, Rep. John Tierney (D) 33
(2014) MT-SEN--D (PPP): Brian Schweitzer 48, Sen. Max Baucus 37
NE-SEN--R (PPP): Deb Fischer 37, Jon Bruning 33, Don Stenberg 17, Pat Flynn 2, Sharyn Elander 1, Spencer Zimmerman 1
NC-GOV (PPP): Pat McCrory (R) 46, Walter Dalton (D) 40
WI-GOV (PPP for Daily Kos): Gov. Scott Walker (R) 50, Tom Barrett (D) 45, Hari Trivedi (I) 2
WI-LT GOV (PPP for Daily Kos): Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R) 46, Mahlon Mitchell (D) 43
WI-SEN (PPP for Daily Kos): Tommy Thompson (R) 47, Tammy Baldwin (D) 42; Mark Neumann (R) 46, Baldwin 42; Eric Hovde (R) 45, Baldwin 41
About an hour ago, we received the following email from the communications director of University of California Television:
Thought you might be interested in this short video commentary featuring UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy Dean Henry E. Brady on why it?s so important for average citizens to participate in political polls. The video premiered today on UCTV Prime, the YouTube original channel from University of California. Hope you?ll share the timely piece with your readers.
I?ve known Henry forever and have a great respect for him and his work. Also I agree with the general message that political participation is important; regular readers of this and other blogs will know that I?ve spent a lot of time arguing against various voting-is-for-suckers-it?s-a-waste-of-your-time arguments.
But, when it comes to political polls, I?m bothered by the asymmetry by which pollsters make money from interviews, while survey respondents often participate for free.
And then, just a few minutes ago, the phone rang. I picked it up, there was a pause, and then a recorded voice: ?This is Sara from Political?-?
I don?t know what was going to come next. I hung up. If this particular poll is so important, perhaps they could get a real person to call me next time. It?s much more satisfying to hang up on a real person. Or they might try compensating me for my time.
You know: of all the songs I've ever sung, that is the one I've had the most requests not to. I have time for one more here. this one is a little song dedicated to the Boy Scouts of America. [applause] We seem to have a convention here tonight.[...]
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What on Earth is Steven A. Cohen thinking? He's authorized traders at his investment firm, SAC Capital, to quickly build a large position in Accretive Health (NYSE: AH). Roughly a week ago, SAC announced that it had already bought so . . . → Read More: A Powerhouse Investor Is Targeting this Controversial Stock
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Hello, human diary. Mitt here. Today my campaign received the endorsement of the previous Republican president, George W. Bush. Now let us never speak of this again.
Note: I have changed my mind, and will speak of this one last time. It was a rather informal endorsement, delivered from an elevator. Eric F. says to be thankful that it was not given from a bathroom. Now let us never speak of this again.
I was briefly able to visit a theater yesterday to watch a new super-heroic motion picture in the manner of the common American people. I was not able to stay for the entire event, as partway through I changed my mind about watching it and left. I found the film unconvincing, and the plot was undecipherable. Why was the wealthy American cyborg associating with individuals of substantially less wealth? Why did he not hire a less wealthy individual to wear his uncomfortable ferrous suit on his behalf? Why was he spending so much time caring about illegal or damaging behaviors on the part of others to begin with? I found the motivations of the character to be very confusing.
Tomorrow I have a fundraising event at a Florida country club. This, I hope, will be more relaxing. The net worth of the individuals attending is expected to be high, and if past indications are correct will consist of precious few individuals preoccupied with preventing crime or wearing nonstandard attire. I also have been assured that no members of the Bush family will be there.
In addition to asking Jeff Merkley about filibuster reform, I sought his reaction to the Fail Whale trades that have racked up massive losses at JPMorgan Chase. Merkley, along with Carl Levin, authored the Volcker rule, the ban on most types of[...]
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Rep. Darrell Issa's drive to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt is "unwarranted," "unprecedented" and "ill-advised," a top Justice Department official said in a letter to the California Republican, who is chair of the House Oversight Committee, on Tuesday.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole also wrote that the committee's "core questions" on the flawed gun trafficking operation known as Fast and Furious "have been answered."
Cole suggested that the lack of documents showing high-level discussions about the tactics used in Fast and Furious show the problem grew out of offices in Arizona and that top Obama administration were not aware that ATF agents were telling gun shop dealers to sell large quantities of weapons to individuals they suspected were "straw purchasers" for Mexican drug cartels.
"Far from reflecting a 'cover-up,' as some have claimed, the lack of documents makes clear that these tactics had their origin in the field in Arizona and not among Department leaders in Washington," Cole wrote.
"The record makes clear that Department leadership was unaware of the inappropriate tactics used in Fast and Furious until allegations about those tactics were made public in early 2011," Cole wrote.
Some Republican members of the House have suggested the Obama administration purposefully allowed guns to "walk" and wind up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels in an effort to create enough political will to enact gun-control measures.
Issa released a draft contempt resolution earlier this month that charges Holder should be held in contempt for failing to properly respond to Issa's subpoena, but he's reportedly faced opposition from within his own party. Politico reported that House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy decided to slow Issa's push over concerns about the optics of holding the attorney general in contempt during an election year.
As Cole writes, Issa's contempt proceeding would be unprecedented even outside of election season.
"Congress has never held an Attorney General in contempt based on a failure to provide documents relating to open criminal investigations and prosecutions," Cole wrote.
"We readily acknowledge that, like our predecessors in Administrations of both parties, we have protected documents where we have believed that their disclosure would jeopardize the independence, integrity, and effectiveness of our continuing law enforcement efforts," he wrote.
Cole wrote that the Justice Department is "absolutely committed to bringing the killers of Brian Terry and Jaime Zapata to justice" and successfully prosecuting cases related to Fast and Furious.
"We know that the Committee shares these goals and we ask that the Committee work with us to ensure that we are able to hold accountable those who violate the law," Cole wrote to Issa.
Late update: Issa spokesman Frederick Hill responds:
Instead of providing straightforward and fact based answers, the Justice Department continues to distort the outstanding questions about reckless conduct in Operation Fast and Furious. While the Committee has subpoenaed documents that address what senior officials were told about controversial gunwalking tactics during Operation Fast and Furious, the Justice Department pointedly refuses to provide them or to deny that senior officials were given information in the course of the Operation indicating the existence of reckless tactics. Instead, the Justice Department merely restates that certain officials have indicated that they personally did not inform senior officials. Rather than agreeing to provide documents that include details about officials calling ATF whistleblowers liars and retaliating against them, the Department seems to believe a recounting of the Department's public positions on Operation Fast and Furious over a ten month period is a sufficient response. This response fails to provide critical details about unacceptable behavior by senior officials toward whistleblowers and how the Department reversed course from indicating that whistleblowers were lying to acknowledging they were right. If the Justice Department seeks to avoid contempt, it knows the questions for which it owes the American people answers.
Cole's letter to Issa is embedded below.
Doug Hampton, the former aide to ex-Sen. John Ensign, has reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors, according to a court records.
Details of the plea deal were not immediately available, but court records show that Hampton has a plea agreement hearing scheduled for June 7. Hampton, whose wife Cynthia Hampton had an affair with Ensign, pleaded not guilty to seven separate charges in April 2011 of violating laws banning congressional staffers and members of Congress from lobbying the legislative branch for a year after they leave their positions.
Hampton's plea deal was first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Hampton last appeared in federal court in D.C. in January, where there were no signs he was cooperating with the federal government. His trip was paid for by the U.S. Marshals Service because he was financially unable to pay his own way.
A Senate Ethics Committee report found there was substantial and credible evidence that Ensign conspired to violate the post-employment lobbying restriction but he was never charged by the Justice Department. Ensign is currently working as a veterinarian.
A.J. Kramer, Hampton's public defender, did not immediately respond to TPM's requests for comment. Justice Department spokeswoman Alisa Finelli declined to comment.
Even Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is evolving on gay rights -- now saying that sexual orientation should not be considered when nominating judges to the state bench. [...]
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