Last November, the U.N. Human Rights Council issued a report finding that Syrian security forces had committed crimes against humanity and this month, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon accused the Syrian regime of “almost certain” crimes against humanity. Today during a Senate hearing, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton agreed that the argument can be made that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a war criminal but added that an official declaration as such may complicate a political solution to the crisis. “Based on definitions of war criminal and crimes against humanity, there would be an argument to be made that he would fit into that category,” Clinton said, adding, “But I also think that from long experience that can complicate a resolution of a difficult, complex situation because it limits options to persuade leaders perhaps to step down from power.”
“It’s crazy how little we’re funding energy,” Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates bemoaned at a conference on the U.S. government’s support for clean-tech research and development. Hobbled by incessant Republican attacks on clean energy, the United States is falling farther and father behind in the race to build the infrastructure of the 21st century and help civilization survive climate change. Gates was speaking at the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit in a discussion moderated by CAP chair John Podesta.
I knew there was too much time after the South Carolina primary before Michigan held their primary for Santorum's lead to last. I didn't think he'd talk in tongues for over a week, but if Mitt needed to he would have had his SuperPAC smear the heck out of him much more than the above video. However, is there a sliver of hope that Santorum will take Michigan after all? Nate SIlver's latest tries to give us a little comfort food:
Since we ran the Michigan numbers early Monday morning, three new polls are out that make the state look more like a true toss-up and less like one that favors Mr. Romney.Two of the surveys, from Mitchell Research and American Research Group, in fact give Rick Santorum a nominal lead in Michigan, by 2 and 1 percentage points respectively. The third, from Rasmussen Reports, gives Mr. Romney a 2-point advantage.We also added a hard-to-track down survey from Baydoun Consulting, which gave Mr. Romney an 8-point advantage. However, it is less recent than the others, having been conducted on Thursday night rather than over the weekend.Among the five polls that were conducted over the weekend ? including those that had been included with the previous update ? three give Mr. Romney a small lead while two show an edge for Mr. Santorum.Mr. Romney still has the advantage in the FiveThirtyEight forecast, but it is more tenuous than the one we released overnight. The model gives him a 64 percent chance of winning the state, down from 77 percent in the previous forecast.
Rick Santorum does still have a slight chance in Michigan from Nate's POV. I fall into the category that the religious right found a topic it can scream about with the contraception issue even though most women of any faith are repelled by this discussion. Initially it's a win for President Obama. But remember, they are patient and willing to wait decades to turn public opinion to their side of the issue. I doubt Santorum will win Michigan, but it's still possible to keep this clown show going.
After the Obama administration halted progress on the Keystone XL pipeline in January?stating that the 60-day window of time permitted by Republican legislators was too small for a thorough environmental review?those against the proposal cheered and hoped the pipeline was dead. However, it looks like Keystone is emerging from the grave after only a month, as TransCanada?the company behind the pipeline?moves ahead with plans to build the segment running from Oklahoma to Texas, sections of the pipeline that don't require a federal permit. TransCanada is also in the process of reapplying for the cross-border section of the pipeline?the section for which the administration previously denied a permit.
The project now seems to have the White House's support. "Moving oil from the Midwest to the world-class, state-of-the-art refineries on the Gulf Coast will modernize our infrastructure, create jobs, and encourage American energy production," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. He added that the administration would ?take every step possible to expedite the necessary federal permits." Protests against the pipeline are already reigniting in Texas, where construction could start soon if the permits go through.
This chart from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows that the countries hit worst by the economic downturn?like Greece, Spain, and Ireland?have been the most responsive to reforms, an unsurprising conclusion that the organization is trying to frame in a nicer light. Matt Yglesias summed up a chart in a different light: "Why Reformers Love Human Misery In One Chart."
The 100th birthday of the Oreo cookie is coming up, and in celebration Kraft is releasing a limited-edition Birthday Cake Oreo.
The price of gas is on the rise:
Public Policy Polling for Daily Kos & SEIU. 2/23-26. Registered voters. MoE ±3.1% (no trendlines):
Q: Who do you think has more responsibility for the current price of gas: Congress or President Obama?Democrats, predictably, overwhelmingly point the finger at Congress (65-9), while Republicans (albeit by a narrower 53-25 margin) blame the president. But Congress is a two-headed beast, of course, so we included a follow-up question for the 46% who chose that option:
Both equally: 14
Not sure: 12
Q: Do you think the Democrats or Republicans in Congress have more responsibility for the current price of gas?The breakdowns again are interesting: Democrats in this sub-group finger congressional Republicans by a 65-3 ratio, but Republican respondents are more willing to identify their own party as the culprit, saying congressional Dems are responsible by a 51-15 margin.
Both equally: 28
Not sure: 4
If we consolidate the two questions, this is what we get:
Obama: 28In other words, a real muddle. Of course, there's one key piece of information this particular line of questioning can't judge: how important gas prices actually are to voters in terms of impacting their choices at the voting booth. Studies actually tend to show only a weak link between a president's approval ratings at the price at the pump, so this issue may not have as big an impact as some pundits might think. And of course, prices could very well head back down later this year, which would change this calculus entirely. We'll just have to wait and see.
Cong. GOP: 23
Obama & Congress equally: 14
Cong. Ds & Rs equally: 13
Not sure (overall): 12
Cong. Dems: 7
Not sure (Congress): 2
Meanwhile, our usual spray of approval and favorability numbers are, as always, available on our Weekly Trends page. Barack Obama's ratings nudged down slightly over the last week, but he's still doing better these days than he has for quite some time.
(World Wildlife Federation)The Republican plan, writes Benjy Sarlin, was to emulate the Clinton/Obama contest of 2008 by rearranging the primaries to draw them out, which they thought would encourage more donations, build enthusiasm among voters and keep attention focused on the GOP message.
It might have worked, too. If only they had had a couple of solid candidates of the caliber of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton instead of a clown car brimful of clueless, gaffe-prone, dog-whistling, foghorn-blowing, take-us-back-to-the-14th Century ideological hard-heads with an even bigger than usual bucket of It's-OK-If-You-Are-Republican attitudes and a never-ending forgetfulness of the power of YouTube to spread what they'd previously said on camera a few years or a few days ago that was opposite to what they were saying now.
But they didn't.
(Continue reading under the fold)
"I am not weird! Not weird at all!" (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
Remember when the beltway went batshit crazy because an adviser to President Obama said there was a "weirdness factor" about Mitt Romney? Pundits tried to turn it into some sort of anti-Mormon thing, and Romneyland responded with outrage. Ultimately, David Axelrod calmed things down by saying that going forward, using the word "weird" to describe Mitt Romney would be a fireable offense for any Obama campaign staffer.
Well, flash forward about eight months to the present day, and check out how Mitt Romney's own staff is describing their candidate to The New York Times:
Aides searching for signs of distress from Mr. Romney find them difficult to discern, to their amazement and their puzzlement. "Weird detachment," was how one of them described it.So, having succeeded in banishing the word "weird" from the Obama campaign's vocabulary ... Romneyland is now using it to describe their own guy's leadership style. Which reminds me of that time he strapped his dog inside a kennel on the roof of the family car ... for a 12 hour road trip to Montreal.
We've been trying to get an idea of which delegates for the 2012 Republican Nomination are bound/unbound, pledged/unpledged, super/non-super.
Nate Silver from FiveThirtyEight started to break down how all of the delegates can or must vote at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
- While Arizona and Florida are winner takes all according to their state parties, this goes against GOP rules.
Rick Santorum's newfound frontrunner status can primarily be attributed to the weakness of Mitt Romney's candidacy. The former frontrunner has bobbled away his advantage through unforced errors and an inability to convince Republican voters that he truly is one of them. Santorum was just in the lucky position of being the last plausible Romney alternative. Though most of the credit lies on Romney's shoulders, the shift in political rhetoric over the past month has helped Santorum. The resurgence of culture-war issues like birth control arrived at a prime moment for a candidate whose career has been predicated on appealing to the social values of the religious right.
We?ll have a better sense on just how Republicans are responding once the results from the Michigan and Arizona primaries come in tonight. With Arizona an assured win for Mitt Romney, the attention is centered on the Wolverine State. A few weeks ago, Rick Santorum had opened a wide lead in Michigan; now Romney has clawed back in his former home state, leaving it a tossup. Public Policy Polling's tracking numbers had Romney up by a slight 2 percent yesterday; last night PPP flipped its results and put Santorum back ahead by a statistically insignificant margin of 1 percent.
But if PPP's polls are to be believed, Republicans have in fact moved away from Santorum's religious posturing. Romney's attacks against Santorum have proven successful in dragging down the once-popular candidate, whose favorability numbers have plummeted among Republican voters over the past several weeks. Instead, it's Democrats who could tilt him over the edge today. I'll let PPP explain:
Much has been made of Democratic efforts to turn out the vote for Santorum and we see evidence that's actually happening. Romney leads with actual Republican voters, 43-38. But Santorum's up 47-10 with Democratic voters, and even though they're only 8 percent of the likely electorate that's enough to put him over the top. The big question now is whether those folks will actually bother to show up and vote tomorrow.
Why in the world would Democrats vote for the most conservative candidate in the field? New York's Jonathan Chait thinks the slight rhetorical divergences from conservative orthodoxy, such as Santorum's "populist notes, like bashing Romney for opposing the auto bailout while favoring the financial bailout" could be the reason.
But the explanation may be far simpler: Partisans love causing trouble for the other side. In 2008 Rush Limbaugh had a little fun at Democrats' expense, inciting his listeners to exploit Michigan's open primary laws to vote for Hillary Clinton to extend the race once Barack Obama appeared to have things wrapped up. With no competitive primary on the Dems' side this year, liberals get their turn. Daily Kos has pushed "Operation Hilarity," which urged Michigan readers to vote for Santorum today. The conventional wisdom is still that Romney is still the likely nominee, but the longer the race drags on the more he will be pulled to the right, troubling his efforts to appeal to independents in the general election.
Even Santorum has joined in the fun. As reported by TPM, his campaign has robocalled Michigan Democrats with a message opposing Romney. "On Tuesday, join Democrats who are going to send a loud message to Massachusetts Mitt Romney by voting for Rick Santorum for president. This call is supported by hardworking Democratic men and women, and paid for by Rick Santorum for President," a male voice says on the call.
It could be enough to tip the balance in Santorum's favor tonight. If that comes to fruition, the former moderate governor of a liberal governor won't have an easy time pitching Republicans into believing that his opponent?a candidate who has served as a liberal stand-in for the embodiment of reactionary ideals?is now the fake conservative.
The whistleblowing organization WikiLeaks has partnered with more than twenty-five media outlets to release millions of emails from the global private intelligence company known as Stratfor. The release of the emails, which they are calling the[...]
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