Thursday Reads

Good Morning!! I’m going to start out with some interesting poll results that came out yesterday.

According to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, a lot of ordinary Republicans are unhappy with their GOP representatives in Washington, DC. From the WaPo:

While Republicans in Congress have remained united in their opposition to any tax increases, the poll finds GOP majorities favoring some of the specific changes advocated by the president, including higher income tax rates for the wealthiest Americans.

There is also broad dissatisfaction with Obama’s unwillingness to reach across the aisle: Nearly six in 10 of those polled say the president has not been open enough to compromise. Among independents, 79 percent say Republicans aren’t willing enough to make a deal, while 62 percent say the same of Obama.

Republicans may also be losing the war of perception about who stands with whom in the debates over the deficit and the economy. A majority view the president as more committed to protecting the interests of the middle class and small businesses, while large majorities see Republicans as defending the economic interests of big corporations and Wall Street financial institutions.

ABC’s The Note reports that based on the same poll,

Against a backdrop of broad concern about the impact of default, 80 percent of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll say they’re dissatisfied or even angry with the way the federal government is working, up 11 points in a single month. It last was this high in 1992, during the economic downturn that cost the first President Bush a second term.

The times today are nearly as tough: The ABC News Frustration Index has risen to 72 on its scale of 0 to 100, its highest since just before the 2010 midterm elections and well into the political danger zone. The index combines dissatisfaction with the government, anti-incumbent sentiment and ratings of the president and the economy alike.

But unlike 1992 – or 2010 – the opposition party’s taking even more heat than the president. While President Obama for the first time has fallen under 40 percent approval for handling the economy, the Republicans in Congress do even worse, 28 percent approval. On handling the deficit, it’s a weak 38 percent approval for Obama, but a weaker 27 percent for the GOP. And on handling taxes, Obama has 45 percent approval, the GOP, 31 percent.

It’s good to know that some Americans are getting angry. I wish they’d get out the pitchforks and make some noise about it in the streets.

A couple of GOP governors are dropping in the polls too. Media star Chris Christie is turning off his NJ constituents.

Gov. Chris Christie’s popularity has declined significantly over the first half of 2011 and he would have a very difficult time winning reelection if voters in New Jersey went to the polls today, according to a survey by Public Policy Polling.

While Republican activists outside New Jersey want Christie to seek the party’s 2012 presidential nomination, only 43 percent of Garden State voters approve of the job the governor is doing to 53 percent who disapprove.

The figures represent a 13 point decline from when Public Policy Polling last surveyed voters in January, when Christie’s standing was 48 percent approval and 45 percent disapproval.

Christie’s numbers are steady with Republicans but independents have really turned on him, going from approving by a 55 percent to 39 percent margin to disapproving by a 54 percent to 40 percent margin. And his crossover popularity with Democrats is on the decline as well. Where 23 percent approved of him in January, now only 16 percent do.

Christie has been making huge cuts in government services. I guess austerity isn’t as popular with the grass roots as it is with the power elites.

Gov. John Kasich of Ohio is even more unpopular than Christie.

The latest poll released Wednesday by Connecticut’s Quinnipiac University showed that only 35 percent of registered voters approve of the job the Republican governor has done in his first six months. Exactly half say they disapprove, up 1 percentage point since May, with the remainder undecided.

“Even after the state budget has been approved as he promised without raising taxes, and even though the Quinnipiac University poll finds that 63 percent say they favor such an approach, Gov. Kasich’s name remains mud in the eyes of the Ohio electorate,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

The same poll shows that even some of those who approve of the governor’s performance are prepared to reject his signature law restricting the collective bargaining power of government employees at the ballot on Nov. 8. Fifty-six percent of voters say it should be repealed, up 2 percentage points since May.

Republicans always overreach, don’t they? It looks like the 2010 win may have been just a flash in the pan.

Michele Bachmann is surging in the polls against Mitt Romney.

The Minnesota congresswoman returned to Iowa early Wednesday morning as polls show her gaining ground nationally as a top alternative to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the early front-runner for the GOP nomination. Since formally entering the race last month, she has eclipsed other Republicans in the field, including fellow Minnesotan Tim Pawlenty, who has been actively campaigning all year.

The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll offered a statistical glimpse at their diverging fortunes. In the poll, 16% of the registered Republicans picked Ms. Bachmann as their top choice, putting her second behind Mr. Romney, who remains the first choice of 30% of the Republicans polled. In the same survey, 2% of registered Republicans chose the former Minnesota governor as their top pick, down from 6% in April.

Meanwhile, Bachmann is still being hassled about her migraine headaches. Karl Rove is calling for her to release her medical records. Boy those Republican power brokers are really scared of Bachmann, aren’t they?

A doctor who has examined Bachmann says the headaches aren’t a big deal.

A letter dated Wednesday from a congressional doctor whose office has examined Republican Michele Bachmann described the presidential candidate’s migraines as occurring “infrequently” and controlled by prescription medication.

Bachmann’s campaign distributed the letter from Dr. Brian Monahan, the attending physician in Congress. Bachmann has been evaluated by that office during her three terms in Washington.

Former NH Senator Judd Gregg thinks the Republicans in the House will push the debt limit battle to the brink. In fact, he thinks it will take Social Security checks not going out to get them to agree to raising the debt ceiling.

“My gut tells me that we’ll need a weekend of drama — maybe a weekend of the government not paying its bills — politicians need drama to make something happen. As soon as social security checks don’t go out, the politics will change. I suspect it’ll take artificial drama to get closure past the House.”

“Boehner understands that a shutdown is bad for his caucus and that there’s something viable short of a shutdown but right now… it’s a 50-50 chance that we go into a few days of disruption.”

Gregg said lawmakers don’t really care about the nation’s credit rating:

“Policy-makers only worry about a ratings downgrade at the margins. They don’t really care. The ratings agencies put themselves in a corner that’s foolish. I’ve always found them to be incredibly naive about the political process. To be so definitive is foolish.”

“For the ratings agencies to make this drop-dead date, it’s stupid and naive because we’ll straighten it out, but our process doesn’t allow it to do it overnight.”

Gregg says all this will means the Republicans get most of the blame for the mess. They didn’t learn anything from what happened to Gingrich, did they?

Gregg is probably right about the gang of six plan, since that is basically what the Republicans already rejected. And Brian Beutler reports that they are rejecting it again.

As time goes on, and conservative interest groups and members of Congress rip into it, support among Republicans for the Gang of Six plan to reduce deficits will begin to wane. In fact, that’s already happening.

In a publicly released memo meant to undermine support for the Gang of Six plan in its current form, House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) laments, “it increases revenues while failing to seriously address exploding federal spending on health care, which is the primary driver of our debt. There are also serious concerns that the proposal’s substance on spending falls far short of what is needed to achieve the savings it claims.”

And check this out from Politico:

A few wealthy donors have called Cantor to tell him they wouldn’t mind if their taxes are raised. During two closed meetings this week — one with vote-counting lawmakers, and another with the entire conference — Cantor told colleagues that some well-heeled givers have told them they’re willing to pay more taxes. Cantor, according to an aide, has responded that House Republicans aren’t standing up for the wealthy, but rather for the middle class, who want to see their taxes stay low.

Yeah sure, Eric. You’re standing up for the middle class. ROFLOL!

With unemployment so high, all we need is more impediments to getting hired. According to the NYT, even obscure blog comments could come into play as companies evaluate job candidates.

A year-old start-up, Social Intelligence, scrapes the Internet for everything prospective employees may have said or done online in the past seven years.

Then it assembles a dossier with examples of professional honors and charitable work, along with negative information that meets specific criteria: online evidence of racist remarks; references to drugs; sexually explicit photos, text messages or videos; flagrant displays of weapons or bombs and clearly identifiable violent activity.

[….]

Less than a third of the data surfaced by Mr. Drucker’s firm comes from such major social platforms as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. He said much of the negative information about job candidates comes from deep Web searches that find comments on blogs and posts on smaller social sites, like Tumblr, the blogging site, as well as Yahoo user groups, e-commerce sites, bulletin boards and even Craigslist.

….it is photos and videos that seem to get most people in trouble. “Sexually explicit photos and videos are beyond comprehension,” Mr. Drucker said. “We also see flagrant displays of weapons. And we see a lot of illegal activity. Lots and lots of pictures of drug use.”

I’ll end with this nightmarish story from the LA Times: Witness tells of horror as 3 swept over Vernal Fall in Yosemite

Bibee, a 28-year-old carpenter who grew up in Angels Camp, northwest of the park, had brought Amanda Lee, a visitor from Missouri, to the top of Vernal Fall on Tuesday — her first visit to Yosemite, but the latest of many for him.

They were standing behind a metal barricade, peering at the cascade….Bibee saw a man cross over the barricade. He was leaning over the 317-foot waterfall, holding a young girl, who was screaming in terror. People begged them to get back. “I’m yelling at him, ‘You SOB, get over here!'” Bibee said. Eventually, the two returned to safety.

But then Bibee noticed that three other people had also crossed over, and were “taking pictures and being stupid.”

The three people, members of a church group, fell into the water and went over the falls. All are presumed dead. Why would people go past a barricade and warning signs to stand on the edge of a raging waterfall? But it’s not the first time. The article says twelve people have gone over the falls previously–all were killed.

That’s it for me. What are you reading and blogging about today?


Michele Bachmann Shares Lead in Iowa with Mitt Romney

You’ve probably heard the news that Michele Bachmann is in a statistical dead heat with Mitt Romney in the Iowa Register’s GOP presidential poll.

The Des Moines Register’s poll is the first measure of likely GOP caucus-goers.

So far, Mitt Romney is leading the pack with 23 percent. But Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is just one point behind him with 22 percent.

Hermain Cain finished a distant third with 10 percent. Then its former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Congressman Ron Paul, both with 7 percent.

Minnesota’s former Governor Tim Pawlenty, who’s focused so much of his campaigning in Iowa, finished sixth with 6 percent.

Rick Santorum finished with 4 percent and Jon Huntsman is the top choice for 2 percent of the potential caucusgoers.

Nate Silver argues that Pawlenty still has a chance:

…the horse race numbers need to be interpreted cautiously. Instead, I’d pay just as much attention to the impression that voters have of each candidate.

You have to dig down to find those numbers, but they are much better for Mr. Pawlenty: some 58 pecent of voters view him favorably, versus 13 percent unfavorably. The figures for Mr. Romney, by contrast, are 52 percent favorable but 38 percent unfavorable.

Put simply, there is considerable upside in Mr. Pawlenty’s numbers — and some downside for Mr. Romney, who is effectively competing for the votes of perhaps only 50 or 60 percent of the voters in the state because of his relatively moderate positions.

Unfortunately, Pawlenty’s real problem is that he booooorrrrring. Besides, he’s a right-wing “Christian” too.

So basically, unless Sarah Palin jumps into the race, Romney and Bachmann are the only viable candidates for the Republican nomination. I think Bachmann will beat Romney in the Iowa Caucuses for three reasons:

1) Bachmann’s far right evangelical “Christianity” trumps Romney’s Mormonism.

2) Bachmann is a compulsively hard worker and true believer; Romney doesn’t know the meaning of hard work, and he has no moral values or ideology.

3) Michele Bachmann was born in Iowa.

The good news is that Bachmann probably can’t beat Romney in New Hampshire, but you never know.

In an interview today Bachmann explained that

her bid to unseat President Barack Obama shouldn’t be viewed as “anything personal” against the Democrat but says he’s “just wrong” on his policies for America….
[T]he Minnesota congresswoman also said she doesn’t foresee problems moving from frequent naysayer to the country’s proposer-in-chief. She says voters can expect her to propose an economic agenda that includes cuts to corporate taxes and phase-outs of taxes on inheritances and investment earnings.

Bachmann’s nothing-personal message departs from her 2008 comments questioning whether Obama had “anti-American” views. She has said she wishes she framed her criticism differently.

Well, that’s darn sporting of her. I guess Obama can breathe a sigh of relief now.