Monday Evening Reads: Bill Clinton’s Advice, Romney and Rubio, George Zimmerman, and Stupid Republicans

Good Evening! It hasn’t been a particularly busy news day, but I have a few updates for you tonight.

According to Politico, the Obama campaign is changing it’s attacks on Mitt Romney based on some suggestions from Bill Clinton. The original approach was to paint Romney as a man without a moral or ideological “core.” Clinton, according to Politico argued that it would be better to focus on

Romney’s description of himself as a “severe conservative,” to deny him any chance to tack back to the center, according to three Democrats close to the situation.

“[Clinton] said he thought Romney’s positions on the issues would ultimately be the best way to attack him,” said a Democrat briefed on the details of an amiable Nov. 9 meeting in Clinton’s Harlem office that included Axelrod, Democratic National Committee Executive Director Patrick Gaspard and Obama campaign manager Jim Messina.

“That’s what we are doing, but it doesn’t mean we can’t and shouldn’t do the etch-a-sketch, flip-flop moments when they occur and we will,” added the operative — who says Obama’s campaign likely would have emphasized Romney’s conservative tilt once the primary was over, anyway.

But Clinton’s advice, buttressed by Benenson’s polling, has clearly gained traction internally since the end of Romney’s four-month primary ordeal.

Well, I can’t imagine a more expert political consultant than Bill Clinton, can you?

A new report from the Pew Hispanic Center shows that the number of illegal immigrants coming from Mexico has been falling because of the lack of jobs in the U.S. NY Daily News:

Roughly 6.1 million unauthorized Mexican immigrants were living in the U.S. last year, down from a peak of nearly 7 million in 2007, according to the Pew Hispanic Center study released Monday. It was the biggest sustained drop in modern history, believed to be surpassed in scale only by losses in the Mexican-born U.S. population during the Great Depression.

Much of the drop in illegal immigrants is due to the persistently weak U.S. economy, which has shrunk construction and service-sector jobs attractive to Mexican workers following the housing bust. But increased deportations, heightened U.S. patrols and violence along the border also have played a role, as well as demographic changes, such as Mexico’s declining birth rate.

In all, the Mexican-born population in the U.S. last year — legal and illegal — fell to 12 million, marking an end to an immigration boom dating back to the 1970s, when foreign-born residents from Mexico stood at 760,000. The 2007 peak was 12.6 million.

The New York and Pennsylvania primaries will be held tomorrow, but there isn’t much excitement about them anymore. Other states voting tomorrow are Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island.

In Pennsylvania, Romney was campaigning with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

Without overshadowing Romney, Rubio on Monday hammered home the former Massachusetts governor’s position on Iran and helped Romney attack President Barack Obama’s energy policy.

In a brief question-and-answer session with reporters, Romney said he’d consider Rubio’s immigration proposal to find a way to allow young people who came to the country illegally as children to stay here if they’re in school or the military.

It sounds like the Obama campaign should get busy pinning Romney down on the cruel immigration policy he has been pushing throughout the primaries.

Romney also tried to appeal to younger voters by joining Obama in backing a bill to prevent doubling of student loan interest rates.

ASTON, Pa. — As the White House ramps up its push to woo young voters by urging Congress to head off a scheduled increase in student loan interest rates, GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney struck back Monday, throwing his support behind an extension of the current rates at a campaign event outside Philadelphia.

The former Massachusetts governor made the announcement at a press availability with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, the first joint appearance of Romney and the Florida Republican whose name is often floated as a top choice for his running mate.

“There’s one thing that I wanted to mention, that I forgot to mention at the very beginning, and that was that particularly with the number of college graduates that can’t find work or that can only find work well beneath their skill level, I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans,” Romney said at the end of a seven-minute joint news conference with Rubio.

I have a few updates on the Trayvon Martin case. At one minute after midnight, George Zimmerman was let out of jail after posting bail. He will be going to a undisclosed location, reportedly outside of Florida.

Wherever George Zimmerman went after he was released on bond from a Florida jail, a sensitive GPS device will pinpoint his location for authorities and alert them if he drifts even a few feet away from where he is allowed.

Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, went into hiding Monday as he awaits trial. He must pay an $8-a-day fee to use the device, which is generally used to track people charged in domestic violence cases.

George Zimmerman leaves Seminole County Jail with unidentified man

According to the WaPo,

Local LA Bail Bonds companies whose clients have worn the same device used to pinpoint Zimmerman said it is highly sensitive and can send messages to authorities in real-time….

Seminole County Sheriff’s officials are offering few details on how Zimmerman will be specifically monitored, other than to say the device he is wearing has the same 24/7 capabilities it uses to track accused domestic violence offenders. Zimmerman may be residing outside of Florida for safety reasons.

The monitoring program has been in use since 2003 in Seminole and provides “real-time monitoring of an offender’s movements and is capable of monitoring anywhere in the U.S.,” according to a sheriff’s office news release.

Later this morning, Sanford, FL police chief Bill Lee, who has been on leave with pay, submitted his final resignation; but the move was rejected by the Sanford city commissioners at a hastily-called meeting.

Earlier Monday, the city announced in a statement that a separation agreement had been reached with Lee to resign. If it was approved by the City Commission, it would have taken effect at midnight.

But by a 3-2 vote, the commission opted not to accept the proposed deal, which would have permanently dismissed Lee from the job and given him a severance package. Two commissioners had questioned the fairness of Lee losing his job, while Mayor Jeff Triplett said he preferred to wait possibly several months for the results of an investigation into Lee and his department….

Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for Martin’s family, criticized the commission for not letting Lee step down.

“Sanford residents deserve quality leadership in law enforcement who will handle investigations fairly for all people,” he said. “If Chief Bill Lee recognized that his resignation would help start the healing process in Sanford, city leadership should have accepted it in an effort to move the city forward.”

Sanford City Manager Norton N. Bonaparte had supported the resignation.

Benjamin Crump also criticized George Zimmerman and his defense attorneys over a photo of Zimmerman’s head with two small cuts with blood coming out of them.

An attorney for Trayvon Martin’s family believes their son’s shooter is lying about injuries he sustained the night he killed the unarmed 17-year-old.

“If this is any indication of what’s to come, then the lying has already begun,” attorney Ben Crump told reporters on Sunday, while promoting a documentary at the Florida Film Festival on another case….

“When you look at those pictures and you see those two little cuts on his head, that is not consistent with your head being pounded into the pavement,” said Crump. “Objective evidence, evidence we can see and touch, is more important than whatever George Zimmerman says because we have to remember Trayvon Martin isn’t here to tell us his version of what happened.”

Crump pointed to the 911 call where someone is heard screaming before the fatal gunshot.

Democrats in Congress have been pushing for reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, but Texas Sen. John Cornyn says that Democrats are just trying to ‘score cheap political points.’ with their efforts to renew the bill.

Republicans oppose the current reauthorization bill because it would allow battered undocumented immigrants to claim temporary visas, and expand protections to same sex couples and Native American tribes.

All eight Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against renewing the law and Democrats were quick to denounce them, linking their opposition to the bill to the so-called “war on women.”

“The law was enacted to protect and serve the interests of crime victims, not to help a political party fire up its base,” Cornyn continue. “Moreover, to argue that a minor policy disagreement indicates a lack of sensitivity toward battered women is simply beyond the pale.”

In Missouri, a Republican woman who is running for the senate against current Sen. Claire McCaskill says she is “not sure” what the Violence Against Women Act is.

Former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, a Republican now hoping to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), said recently that she was unfamiliar with the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the landmark anti-domestic violence legislation whose re-authorization is now stalled in the Senate….

A video released today by the Missouri Democratic Party shows a man asking Steelman about VAWA at a campaign event. Steelman replies, “I’m not sure what that is because I’m not serving right now.” He asks again, “you haven’t really heard about it?” And she confirms, “no, not really.”

The John Edwards trial has been getting a lot of attention today too. Chris Cillizza calls it a “final public flogging.”

What stories have you been following today?


Tuesday Reads: Wisconsin Recall, Willard on the Defensive, SCOTUS, Another School Shooting, and Trayvon Martin Updates

Tea and Scones, by Kristine Diehl

Good Morning!!

Today is the Wisconsin primary, but there isn’t much suspense. It looks like Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee, even though no one really likes him. I guess Romney wants the job so bad, he doesn’t care that that he’s basically a laughing stock. [UPDATE: Maryland and the District of Columbia also hold their primaries today.]

Yesterday, Romney was asked some uncomfortable questions at a Town Hall meeting in Howard, Wisconsin. One man, a Ron Paul supporter, asked Romney whether he agreed with Mormon Church scriptures that say interracial marriage is sinful. Romney became visibly upset.

The questioner, Bret Hatch, 28, a local supporter of Rep. Ron Paul’s, read from typed notes as he asked Romney whether he agreed with a verse from Moses 7:8 from the “Pearl of Great Price.” As he began citing the verse, Romney interrupted: “I’m sorry, we’re just not going to have a discussion about religion in my view. But if you have a question, I’ll be happy to answer your question.”

Hatch asked his question. “If you become president,” he asked, “do you believe it’s a sin for a white man to marry and procreate with a black?”

“No,” Romney said. “Next question.”

Then another person asked Romney “about his ability to connect to average Americans.” Romney then cited his experience as a church leader in the Boston area.

“That gave me the occasion to work with people on a very personal basis that were dealing with unemployment, with marital difficulties, with health difficulties of their own and with their kids,”

He then claimed that he is running for President because he wants to help people like that.

The big excitement in Wisconsin isn’t about the primary, but about the recall of Governor Scott Walker.

For Wisconsinites, the most important political news of the season came Friday, when the state’s Government Accountability Board announced that the effort to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker had amassed enough valid signatures to force an election June 5. It will be the first such election in state history, and if Wisconsin votes out Walker, he will be only the third sitting governor in U.S. history to be recalled, joining North Dakota’s Lynn Frazier in 1921 and California’s Gray Davis in 2003.

The precipitating event was Walker’s quick move, upon taking office, to reward the 1 percent with a tax cut while asking the 99 percent to sacrifice. He didn’t campaign on his antipathy for public unions. Yet within his first few weeks as governor, Walker declared war on public-sector workers (except for police and firefighters, many of whom supported his candidacy), cutting benefits, limiting pay increases and sharply curtailing collective bargaining rights, even after the unions agreed to many of his demands.

Minx wrote about the horrible SCOTUS decision that came out yesterday, but I wanted to give you a little background on the case they heard. This decision is shocking, IMO.

Albert Florence, his wife and little boy were on their way to his parents’ home in 2005, when they were pulled over by a state trooper. Mrs. Florence was at the wheel, but the trooper’s roadside state records check showed a seven-year-old outstanding arrest warrant for Albert Florence for failing to pay a fine. Florence said he had paid the fine, and pulled out a receipt, which he kept in the car. But the trooper said there was nothing he could do. Florence was handcuffed and taken to the local county jail.

The state would later admit it had failed to properly purge the arrest warrant, but at the time of the arrest, the error turned into a “nightmare,” Florence said. He was held in jail for seven days and strip-searched twice.

Florence said the experience “petrified” and “humiliated” him. Upon entering the jail, he was ordered to take a delousing shower, then inspected by a guard who was about “an arm’s distance” away and instructed Florence to squat, cough and lift up his genitals.

If that isn’t an unreasonable search, I don’t know what would be. But five “conservative” justices think it’s just fine for law enforcement officials to strip search people even for minor offenses. This will surely have the effect of frightening people away from being involved in peaceful political protests.

Occupy and political protesters beware. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday held that local police can strip-search anyone who is arrested for minor offenses if they are to be held within the jail’s general population before being released.

The 5-4 decision, with the Court’s conservative majority overruling its four moderates, is a further erosion of the Fourth Amendment’s protection from unlawful search and seizure. It overturns laws in 10 states that place limits on suspicionless strip-searches and upholds a technique used by some local police forces against Occupy protesters last fall, prompting protesters to sue.

Among the jurisdictions seeking expanded authority to strip-search anyone arrested were the City of Chicago, where the NATO summit will be held this May and where protests have been planned, as well as the state of North Carolina, where the Democratic National Convention will be held in early September in Charlotte.

There was a school shooting at a Christian college in Oakland, California yesterday. Seven people were killed and three injured.

Police captured the suspected gunman inside an Alameda grocery store five miles away from the shooting site at Oikos University after he allegedly walked to the customer service counter and told employees, “I just shot some people.”

A law-enforcement source close to the investigation confirmed to The Chronicle that the suspect is 43-year-old One Goh of Oakland.

The suspect used a .45-caliber handgun, spraying a classroom with gunfire and firing additional shots as he ran out, said the source, who did not wish to be identified because the investigation is ongoing.

Goh had been a nursing student at Oikos University, located at 7850 Edgewater Road in East Oakland, and there was some kind of dispute that may have resulted in him getting kicked out of at least one class, the source said.

I have a number of Trayvon Martin links. I won’t quote extensively from them, but I’m still very interested in the case and want to pass on things that I’ve learned.

Some new recordings have come out that show that either George Zimmerman or police decided he didn’t need to go to the hospital after the shooting. If Zimmerman had actually had his head pounded on concrete multiple times, he would have had to be evaluated for a serious head injury, because sometimes you can have internal injuries or hemorrhaging that doesn’t show on the outside.

Trayvon Martin’s parents have formally requested that the Feds investigate whether Norman Wolfinger, the states attorney actually interfered with a police detective who wanted to arrest Zimmerman on the night of the shooting. But Wolfinger is denying that it ever happened. He didn’t deny it in a very nice way either.

Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the Martin family, asked the Justice Department in a letter on Monday to investigate those reports. Though the letter reported the events without attribution, Crump told Reuters his information came from the media reports and he did not have independent verification….

“I am outraged by the outright lies contained in the letter by Benjamin Crump,” Wolfinger said. “I encourage the Justice Department to investigate and document that no such meeting or communication occurred.” [….]

Lynne Bumpus-Hooper, a spokesman for Wolfinger, said the state attorney never spoke with Lee on the night of the shooting. Instead Sanford police consulted that night with Kelly Jo Hines, the prosecutor on call, Bumpus-Hooper said. She declined to say what was discussed.

“Police officers can make an arrest at virtually any dadgum point they feel they have enough probable cause to make an arrest,” Bumpus-Hooper said. “They do not need our permission and they do not seek our permission.”

So who made that decision? The plot thickens.

Today FBI agents appeared in Sanford and began examining the area in which the shooting occurred, and reviewing evidence in a “parallel investigation” with the one being carried out by special prosecutor

The New York Times had an excellent review of Zimmerman’s evolving story about what happened on the night of February 26. If you’re at all interested in this case, be sure to read it. It’s very helpful.

Richard E.J. Escrow had an interesting think piece on the Trayvon Martin case. His conclusion comes from Bob Dylan’s song about the murder of Medgar Evers: Zimmerman is “only a pawn in their game.”

The deputy sheriffs, the soldiers, the governors get paid
And the marshals and cops get the same
But the poor white man’s used in the hands of them all like a tool
He’s taught in his school …
That the laws are with him, to protect his white skin
To keep up his hate, so he never thinks straight
‘Bout the shape that he’s in, but it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game.

Escrow writes:

Whose game? As it turns out, the ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws used to protect shooters like Zimmerman were written and promoted by ALEC – the American Legislative Exchange Council. As the Center for Media and Democracy notes, the corporate-funded right wing group behind Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s attack on worker rights is the same group that has promoted ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws all around the country.

You could put a thousand people on Neighborhood Watch and they’d never see the real threats to Zimmerman’s community. Those threats can’t be seen with the eye. The real threats are things like joblessness, financial insecurity, hunger, lack of medical care. They’re threats you can’t protect yourself from with a gun.

Shooters like George Zimmerman are the product of an economic system that benefits from misdirected fear and anger – emotions that are too often channeled into violence instead of peaceful change.

Here’s Dylan performing his song at a voter registration rally in Greenwood, Mississippi in 1963.

Have a great day everyone! Now what’s on your reading list today?