It wasn't much of a surprise that Mitt Romney waltzed to victory in the Puerto Rico caucus yesterday. Rick Santorum had campaigned minimally in the territory and tried his best to offend the region's majority Spanish speaking population while he was there, whereas Romney had the backing of the island's major political figures, including popular governor and potential rising GOP star Luis Fortuno.
But in many ways it still represents a big win. Romney won 88 percent of the vote, shutting out Rick Santorum from collecting any new delegates. The estimated 22 delegates Romney collected in Puerto Rico are three more than Santorum won in Alabama and 13 more than he reaped in Mississippi. Yet scan the newspapers this morning and you'll find scant coverage of the caucus. Unlike the state's Santorum won last week, Romney's dominating victory hasn't triggered a series of articles questioning whether the state of the race has been overturned. Instead, you get thoughts like Jeff Zeleny's in the Times article on the Puerto Rico vote:
But the Republican rivals had their sights squarely set on Illinois, where 69 delegates are at stake on Tuesday. The race is far tighter here, party strategists said, and Mr. Romney scrapped a brief island respite to return to campaign across the state on Sunday.
I'm all for a good horse race, but this is ridiculous. Yes, Illinois is more closely contested. The latest polls show a tighter race; one from a local Chicago television station put Romney up six points over Santorum, though a PPP poll from this morning gave him a 15-percent edge. However Illinois shakes out, the best Santorum can likely hope for is a close split with Romney, perhaps granting him around 35 of the state's 69 delegates.
Those delegates don?t have a higher value just because they are gleaned from a tighter race. Expectations are largely a media creation, which would be fine if they were acknowledged as such. Journalists are supposed to build a narrative around the facts and someone rising or falling is a compelling story. Yet reporters take the concept of momentum too far when it is treated as an inherent fact of the election rather than their own construction. When Romney declared that he would win Alabama and Mississippi, it didn't change the underlying reality that he was unlikely to prevail in two very conservative southern states, but reporters jumped on it as an excuse to claim that Romney had failed expectations, hinting that his campaign might be in trouble. Santorum didn't make the same confident boast about Puerto Rico so his failure in the territory was forgiven.
Ignore the hype and spin from the candidates or their political consultants. The best frame for the election is the simple and unsexy math of delegates, and by all measures Romney is well on his way to securing the nomination barring any major scandal.
(03/19/12) HARRISBURG, Pa. - Their noses are running, their eyes are bloodshot... They are Pennsylvania's allergy sufferers, and for many of them, spring has arrived early, with all its burgeoning irritants.
Dr. Amanda Staudt, climate scientist with the National Wildlife Federation, says it's a byproduct of global warming, and this winter's warm weather will draw spring allergies out longer than usual.
"Because some of the trees are starting now and some of the trees won't get started until when they normally do, it's not going to be a great year for allergy sufferers."
She says the climate is also setting up conditions in which more kinds of trees that cause allergies can take root.
"The warmer temperatures could allow significant expansion of the habitat suitable for oaks and hickories, which are two highly-allergenic tree species. Pennsylvania is one of the states where we expect there to be a significant increase in these highly-allergenic trees, if global warming continues unchecked."
Staudt says another reality of our current climate is the financial fallout.
"Allergies and asthma already cost the United States more than $32 billion annually in direct health-care costs and lost productivity. We expect that this will only become more of a problem as more people have to resort to medication and other measures to treat their allergies."
Staudt says the situation will be even worse for those with fall allergies. She says the conditions are ideal for ragweed, the chief culprit for allergies later in the year.
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Is 25-year-old former community organizer Ilya Sheyman about to plant a flag for progressive politics in Illinois? Tom Kludt has the story. [...]
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I?m being recruited by the Heritage Foundation. They like me, they really like me! Or, perhaps, they like my zipcode and phone number, which apparently place me smack in the middle of conservative-voting territory and make me a prime target for their particular brand of baloney. They want my membership money, and they’re willing to [...]Related posts:
GOP prepares new Medicare reform plan: “Budget Committee chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), is fashioning a sequel to last year’s “Path to Prosperity” manifesto that ignited a firestorm over Medicare.” Ryan is scheduled to release the new Path on Tuesday. [AP]
AARP launches Medicare battle: “Against a backdrop of proposals to overhaul the popular social insurance program and a presidential campaign likely to address entitlement spending, AARP is launching “probably the biggest outreach effort we?ve ever done on any issue” to activate its 37 million members, said Nancy LeaMond, AARP’s executive vice president.” [Kaiser Health News]
Democratic senators may support IPAB repeal: “Several Senate Democrats up for reelection tell The Hill they haven’t ruled out bucking President Obama by voting to repeal the health law’s cost-control board.” [The Hill]
Women are still paying more for health insurance: “The new health care law will prohibit such ?gender rating,? starting in 2014. But gaps persist in most states, with no evidence that insurers have taken steps to reduce them. For a popular Blue Cross Blue Shield plan in Chicago, a 30-year-old woman pays $375 a month, which is 31 percent more than what a man of the same age pays for the same coverage, according to eHealthInsurance.com, a leading online source of health insurance.” [NYT]
Business groups calls for health cost targets in Massachusetts: The Greater Boston Interfaith Organization and the state’s largest employer group, Associated Industries of Massachusetts called for Massachusetts to “hold all health care spending ? including both government spending and private spending — to a rate of two percentage points below the state’s gross state product, or GSP.” [Kaiser Health News]
Texas sues over health funding: “Texas’ attorney general’s office sued HHS in federal civil court in response to the department’s decision to terminate federal funding for the state’s Women’s Health Program. HHS decided to phase out federal funding of the program because of a recently passed Texas law that effectively prevents women in the program from going to Planned Parenthood for healthcare.” [Modern Healthcare]
Welcome to Justiceline, ThinkProgress Justice?s morning round-up of the latest legal news and developments. Remember to follow us on Twitter at @TPJustice.
Want the scoop on hot races around the country? Get the digest emailed to you each weekday morning. Sign up here.Leading Off:
? IL-16: This seems pretty remarkable: A week after personally endorsing Adam Kinzinger in the GOP primary, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's super PAC, the YG Action Fund, is spending $50K to air a last-minute radio ad ahead of Tuesday's election. I thought Cantor's involvement in the race was pretty unusual to begin with, but to fork out actual dollars to help knock off a veteran incumbent, Don Manzullo, seems doubly so. But it also feels like a fairly smart move: If Kinzinger wins this tight, ugly race, he'll owe total loyalty to Cantor for time immemorial.
Balloon Juice - everything is bigger in Texas, including voter suppression;
David E's Fablog - the Bush body count just keeps rising;
Dependable Renegade - President McCain keeps 'em coming;
Field Negro - who could have predicted that a GOP governor would attack women, students, voters?
Rude Pundit - the GOP's twat problem.
A variety of links to articles/interviews/speeches on current topics that may be of interest.[...]
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Visual source: Newseum
Ben Adler wants liberals not too get to cocky about Mitt Romney's curtsies to the right:
Many liberals, and increasingly even mainstream journalists, are becoming convinced that Republican candidates?including likely nominee Mitt Romney?are doing irreparable damage to their general election prospects. [...]Paul Krugman decries the lies about health coverage reform:
?Although running to the right is part of Republican primary politics, some are starting to worry,? writes ABC?s Alicia Tejada. ?With Santorum?s surge, Romney has been forced to move to the right, too, taking positions his supporters admit may make it harder to win the votes independents in the fall if he is the nominee.?
But is it true? [...] eight months is a very long time in politics. No one should think that a minor kerfuffle such as Limbaughgate would determine the 2012 election.
Each new report from the Congressional Budget Office is touted as proof that the true cost of Obamacare is exploding, even when ? as was the case with the latest report ? the document says on its very first page that projected costs have actually fallen slightly. Nor are we talking about random pundits making these false claims. We are, instead, talking about people like the chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, who issued a completely fraudulent press release after the latest budget office report.Michael Gerson says the teleprompter that Rick Santorum hates isn't the problem he thinks it is:
Because the truth does not, sad to say, always prevail, there is a real chance that these lies will succeed in killing health reform before it really gets started. And that would be an immense tragedy for America, because this health reform is coming just in time.
On this issue, Santorum cannot be accused of hypocrisy. His Super Tuesday victory speech, delivered in Steubenville, Ohio, did not make use of a teleprompter -- or any other form of rhetorical discipline. It was a 20-minute ramble of lame jokes, patriotic platitudes and half-developed campaign themes. On the evidence of these remarks, Santorum's guiding philosophy is "free enterprise" and "free people" held together by free association. He vaguely honored Ronald Reagan for saying inspiring words, without bothering to contribute any of his own. He praised the "greatest generation" without crafting a single phrase that captured their accomplishments.David Ignatius describes what he has seen in a sample of the thousands of documents taken from Osama bin Laden's compound after the raid that killed him:
But the al-Qaeda leader turns immediately to a bitter reflection on mistakes made by his followers ? especially their killing of Muslims in Iraq and elsewhere. The result, he said, ?would lead us to winning several battles while losing the war at the end.? Bin Laden ruminated on the ?extremely great damage? caused by these overzealous jihadists. [...]Newsday:
The brooding bin Laden advised his followers to back off on these self-defeating attacks in Muslim nations and instead begin ?targeting American interests in non-Islamic countries first, such as South Korea.? At another point, he stressed: ?The focus must be on actions that contribute to the intent of bleeding the American enemy.?
A burst of bipartisanship, a behavior too rarely seen these days in Congress, led the Senate last week to pass an eminently sensible transportation bill. That was in sharp contrast to the House of Representatives, which had proposed, but failed to pass, an ugly, anti-mass transit bill. The House must now put aside ideology and pass the Senate version. The current stopgap legislation expires soon, which will further endanger our already-crumbling national infrastructure.David Roberts decries the idiocy of cutting the nation's lead poisoning prevention program by 90 percent as an "empty gesture toward 'fiscal responsibility' to please a decadent elite." Pity the kids whose lives are messed up as a result.
On Feb. 29, a Philadelphia jury sentenced Derrick White to death for murder ? in part because his lawyers provided the kind of ineffective counsel that has drawn harsh criticism for decades in the city.Joel Bleifuss writes that in the case of Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum the Supreme Court is likely to rule in June that, under international law, corporations are not people and cannot be held liable for complicity human rights abuse:
Barely 20 when arrested in 2010, Mr. White received a death sentence after his lawyers failed to take the most rudimentary steps for capital cases. They did not enter as evidence records about his background or hire a death penalty expert to help prepare the case. The closing argument about whether he deserved death or life without parole was rambling and all but pointless, lasting 15 minutes.
Although Pennsylvania has carried out only three executions since 1976, its system is no less barbaric for that fact. Two hundred and five inmates are on death row. The White case underscores the state?s continuing failure to meet constitutional standards in capital cases. It is well past time for the state to stop its machinery of death.
So, as with Citizens United, the lines are drawn. On one side, a pack of lawyered-up marauders claim their rights as persons one day and deny their culpability the next. On the other side, living beings seek relief from the jackals that gorge upon the fruits of human labor and gobble up the riches of the earth.Robert Fisk doesn't buy the widespread media explanation for Sgt. Robert Bales's massacre:
"Apparently deranged", "probably deranged", journalists announced, a soldier who "might have suffered some kind of breakdown" (The Guardian), a "rogue US soldier" (Financial Times) whose "rampage" (The New York Times) was "doubtless [sic] perpetrated in an act of madness" (Le Figaro). Really? Are we supposed to believe this stuff? Surely, if he was entirely deranged, our staff sergeant would have killed 16 of his fellow Americans. He would have slaughtered his mates and then set fire to their bodies. But, no, he didn't kill Americans. He chose to kill Afghans. There was a choice involved. So why did he kill Afghans? We learned yesterday that the soldier had recently seen one of his mates with his legs blown off. But so what?Zoe Williams says she's mellowed on some feminist issues and become more hardline on others:
There is no way we will ever reach an agenda on which all of us agree, in equal measure, with everything. I have seen larger, more vivid, more optimistic feminist gatherings in the past six months than in the rest of my life put together, but not one of them has reached its end without a load of time being wasted on one of these classic faultlines: someone frozen out for admitting she likes Debbie Does Dallas; someone else saying: "What do I care about some middle-income woman's childcare arrangements when rape is being used as an act of war in the Congo?"
The women's movement has a problem with ideological purism: in its discourse, it demands not only that we all adhere to a central set of truths, but also that we agree on their priority. This is impossible.