Talk about surreal. Newt is leading in the polls!

Even Newt thinks it's hysterically funny.

This just can’t be happening, but it is. According to the latest PPP poll,

He’s at 28% to 25% for Herman Cain and 18% for Mitt Romney. The rest of the Republican field is increasingly looking like a bunch of also rans: Rick Perry is at 6%, Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul at 5%, Jon Huntsman at 3%, and Gary Johnson and Rick Santorum each at 1%.

Compared to a month ago Gingrich is up 13 points, while Cain has dropped by 5 points and Romney has gone down by 4.

And for those who think Mitt Romney will still win the nomination, Mr. Flip-Flopper’s approval rating is “at a 6 month low…with only 48% of voters seeing him favorably to 39% with a negative opinion.

In the CNN poll, Newt and Mitt are basically tied, and Cain has dropped down by 11 points since October.

According to a CNN/ORC International Poll released Monday, 24% of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say Romney is their most likely choice for their party’s presidential nominee with Gingrich at 22%. Romney’s two-point advantage is well within the survey’s sampling error. Full results (pdf)

While the level of support has pretty much stayed the same for Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who’s making his second bid for the White House, Gingrich has seen his support jump 14 points since October.

The poll also indicates that 14 percent back Cain, down 11 points from last month.

My head is spinning. Can you imagine Newt Gingrich as President?


Running for President as a Moneymaking Scheme

candidate or conman?

We live in an increasingly shallow and commercial culture, so I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked to learn that some people run for President of the United States specifically in order to enrich themselves rather than because they want to serve our country. To be honest, I’ve often speculated that Obama wanted to be President so he could move up to the investor class, and that he might even prefer to serve only one term and then get on to the business of becoming filthy rich.

Sarah Palin became a celebrity by running for Vice President, after which she resigned her job as governor of Alaska, wrote a couple of books and became a Fox personality. She continued to allow her deluded supporters to believe she intended to run for President in 2012, and then pulled the rug out from under them. Did she do all this just to get rich?

Newt Gingrich’s entire campaign staff resigned in June, reportedly because they felt he was more committed to promoting the books and movies he produces with his wife Calista than to doing the hard work needed to win presidential primaries.

It appears Herman Cain is another example of the largely self-interested, phony presidential candidate, according to an article by Joshua Green at Bloomberg Businessweek.

Green writes that Cain’s occupation over the past fifteen years has been traveling around the country as a “motivational speaker.” He is also promoting his new book, This is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House while he is supposedly running for President–and presumably accepting contributions from supporters. Green writes that Cain recently told an audience in Phoenix, AZ that “My American dream,” he boomed, “was, when I grow up, I want to make me some money!” More from the article:

Cain is making money, alright. Bloomberg News reported on Oct. 17 that his campaign paid more than $65,000 to his personal publishing company to buy copies of his books and pamphlets. In an interview before his address to the Arizona GOP, he told me that he continues to give motivational speeches to corporations at $25,000 a pop even as he campaigns for President. “I’m still doing paid speeches,” he confirmed. “But I have not raised my prices. This economy’s on life support, so I’m very mindful of those companies that would like to have me come and speak. But I’m not gonna take advantage of my newfound popularity just to put more dollars in my pocket.” Even so, Cain estimates that he has earned $250,000 this year through his speeches.

Running for President has been good to him, even if no one is certain that the White House is his most coveted destination. Opponents, reporters, and many of his own aides are skeptical. In June, four of his top staffers in Iowa and New Hampshire quit because, as one of them put it, Cain “wasn’t willing to make the commitment to Iowa necessary to win.” Over the past few months, as his popularity has swelled, he has turned his back on the early primary states he once courted diligently and set off on a national book tour to promote This is Herman Cain! He has a bare-bones staff, a thin calendar, and hasn’t registered his name on the ballot in numerous primary states, although he has registered appearances on the Today show and dozens of others to pitch his book.

Cain claims he’s a serious candidate, even though he isn’t making the slightest effort to compete in the early primaries.

Cain insists he’s serious about becoming President and dismisses any suggestion otherwise. “People who criticize me for our strategy, they don’t know what our strategy is,” he says. Cain claims that he has passed over early primary states to sell books and speak to audiences in places like Tennessee and Ohio because he is running primary and general election strategies at the same time. “I have an unconventional campaign,” he says.

Nevertheless, by pretending to be a candidate, he has certainly raised his own visibility and celebrity, just as Palin did. I always had the impression that Cain was nothing but a cheap huckster; but after reading Green’s article my opinion of him has gotten even lower, if that’s possible. And yet this man is currently the Republican frontrunner. Sometimes I feel as if I don’t fit in this new America at all. What has happened to patriotism and idealism?

I’ve started seeing a few stories suggesting that Cain’s support may have peaked. Jonathan Bernstein at the Plum Line asks if Cain’s fifteen minutes are over.

Last night, Herman Cain made a big splash when he backed into pro-choice language on abortion last night on CNN — apparently by accident — when he said he is personally fully against abortion but doesn’t think that the government should tell women what to do. This is already shaping up as a very big deal. Cain is leading in some polls, so other Republicans may use this slip up to try to take him down, and he’ll have to address it.

In other words, this could mean the end of Cain’s 15 minutes.

Republicans certainly would never nominate anyone who was actually pro-choice, and anti-abortion activists won’t forgive anyone who stumbled this badly on the issue, even if he walks it back back (as I expect he will) and clarifies that he misspoke himself and he’s actually 100% pro-life. So this is at the very least a severe blow to his campaign. Given that he’s not a serious candidate, it gives Republicans a clean shot at bashing him for long enough to finally remove him from the top of the polls. As such, it can be seen as a lucky break for Republicans who know that it’s really not a good idea to have a presidential candidate who can’t manage to put three sentences together on most topics without an embarrassing gaffe.

At the right-wing Boston Herald, Wayne Woodleif writes that is “already deflating” because of another embarrassing gaffe:

The air is gushing out of Herman Cain’s balloon in the Republican presidential race after his rivals battered his beloved 9-9-9 tax plan Tuesday night in Las Vegas and the former pizza mogul, co-leader in recent polls, made a huge gaffe on terrorism in post- and pre- debate interviews.

In the debate, Cain had brushed off CNN moderator Anderson Cooper’s question of why the candidate had told Wolf Blitzer in an earlier interview that he would consider negotiating the release of all the terrorist detainees at Guantanamo for the return of a single American held hostage (a la Israel’s deal with Palestine). “I would never negotiate with terrorists,” Cain answered.

But when Cooper, post-debate, played video from the earlier interview, Cain was caught clearly saying, “I could see myself as president authorizing that kind of transaction.” Once he had all the facts, Cain sang a different song. “I misspoke,” he said. “Things were going so fast” in the interview.

So Cain may soon join Palin as a Fox News Host or perhaps become a more high-profile talk radio host than he was before he “ran for President.” But whatever he chooses to do, he’ll be a lot richer and more famous because pall the free media exposure he received while pretending to be a serious candidate.

Am I the only one who finds that deeply disturbing?


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!! I’ve got some widely disparate reading material for you today. I’ll begin with some articles related to the growing Occupy movement.

The New York Review of Books has posted an depth piece (just about all their articles are long and in-depth) by Michael Greenberg about Occupy Wall Street. I won’t try to excerpt from it, but think the article is a useful summary of the history of the movement and the author’s conversations with the organizers and protesters.

Raw Story has an interview with Chris Hedges: ‘Corporations have carried out a coup d’état in my country.’ Here’s some of what Hedges had to say:

“I spent 20 years overseas, I’m a war correspondent,” he said. “I came back and realized that corporations have carried out a coup d’état in my country.”

“I covered the street demonstrations that brought down Milošević, I’ve covered both of the Palestinian intifadas, and once movements like this start and articulate a fundamental truth about the society that they live in, and expose the repression, the mendacity, the corruption and the decay of structures of power, then they have a kind of centrifugal force, you never know where they’re going.” ….

“What happens, and it’s true in all of these movements as well, is the foot soldiers of the elite, the blue uniform police, the mechanisms of control, finally don’t want to impede the movement. At that point, the power elite is left defenseless. So, where’s it going? No one knows. Even the people most intimately involved in the organization don’t know. All of these movements take on a kind of life and color that in some ways is finally mysterious. The only thing I can say, having been in the middle of similar movements, is that this one is real … And this one could take ‘em all down.”

That’s quite a recommendation from a genuine radical.

It appears that the administration is getting nervous about what kinds of protests they might see at the Democratic Convention next year. The Charlotte Police are currently being trained to handle riot control, and the equipment and training are being paid for by the Federal Government.

Almost every one of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s 1,700 officers are going through three days of intensive riot training. Police allowed Channel 9 a behind-the-scenes look at how they’re doing it.

“It’s a very controlled, measured response with a lot of practice,” Deputy Chief Harold Medlock said….

It’s all very carefully choreographed. There’s a reason, for example, why they would move half a step at a time toward a group of protesters.

“The point of some of the tactics and the maneuvers that we use is to allow folks to have the time to do what we’re asking them to do,” Medlock said.

Chanting is part of the plan, too.

“We want them to hear us as we move and do the things that we need to do, so you’ll hear a lot of verbalization from our officers and one of the things you’ll hear is, ‘Move back!’” Medlock said.

Apparently the riot training will also prepare police to deal with Occupation Charlotte.

Just another day in Police State America….

I’ve been watching a lot of Criminal Minds reruns while I’ve been sick recently. Tonight after I watched a couple of episodes, I came across this story from Philadelphia that could have come from that show. It seems too horrible to be real, but it is. Over the weekend four disabled people were found confined in a “dungeon.” Police suspect that the perpetrators were kidnapping disabled children and adults and keeping them locked up in order to collect their disability checks.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said that wounds found on Beatrice Weston — the 19-year-old niece of the alleged ringleader of the operation, Linda Ann Weston — were the worst he had ever seen on a person who was still alive.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in a living person,” Ramsey said. “It’s remarkable that she is still alive. There is no penalty that is too harsh for the people that did this.”

Beatrice Weston, who had been reported missing in 2009, suffered wounds that included healed-over fractures, pellet gun wounds, and burns from heated spoons. Beatrice was also malnourished.

“The word horrific is not sufficient,” Ramsey said.

Ten children and teens were taken into protective custody Tuesday night, ranging in age from 2 to 19, reportedly near the apartment building in Philadelphia’s Tacony neighborhood, where the four original victims were discovered Saturday morning.

Authorities say there may be 50 more victims in the case, based on documents taken from Linda Ann Weston when she was arrested.

Hispanic voters may be angry with President Obama for deporting so many people, but the Republican candidates aren’t exactly endearing themselves to immigrants either.

Today, Republican candidates are competing over who can talk the toughest about illegal immigration — who will erect the most impenetrable border defense; who will turn off “magnets” like college tuition benefits.

But after such pointed proposals heated up yet another Republican debate, on Tuesday night, some party officials see a yellow light signaling danger in battleground states with large Hispanic populations in November 2012. Will Hispanic voters remember and punish the eventual Republican nominee?

“The discussion of creating electrified fences from sea to sea is neither prudent nor helpful,” said Ryan Call, chairman of the Republican Party of Colorado, where Hispanics cast 13 percent of votes in 2008 and helped President Obama flip the state to blue. “They’re throwing red meat around in an attempt to mollify a particular aspect of the Republican base.”

You’d think with all the awful problems facing this country, the Republicans could find better issues to run on than picking on undocumented immigrants and pregnant women.

The NYT editorial board has this to say about the cruel new anti-immigrant law in Alabama that Minkoff Minx has written a great deal about.

Alabama’s new anti-immigrant law, the nation’s harshest, went into effect last month…., and it is already reaping a bitter harvest of dislocation and fear. Hispanic homes are emptying, businesses are closing, employers are wondering where their workers have gone. Parents who have not yet figured out where to go are lying low and keeping children home from school.

To the law’s architects and supporters, this is excellent news. “You’re encouraging people to comply with the law on their own,” said Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, who has a side career of drafting extremist immigration legislation for states and cities, notoriously in Arizona and now in Alabama.

Alabama’s law is the biggest test yet for “attrition through enforcement,” a strategy espoused by Mr. Kobach and others to drive away large numbers of illegal immigrants without the hassle and expense of a police-state roundup. All you have to do, they say, is make life hard enough and immigrants will leave on their own. In such a scheme, panic and fear are a plus; suffering is the point.

The pain isn’t felt just by the undocumented. Legal immigrants and native-born Alabamans who happen to be or look Hispanic are now far more vulnerable to officially sanctioned harassment. Many of those children being kept home from school by frightened parents are born and bred Americans.

More evidence that American is becoming a police state.

Here a little good news for a change: New Jersey Sen. Lautenberg says it’s time for a new WPA

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) isn’t taking last week’s failure to pass President Obama’s jobs package lying down. Instead, he’s got a bolder plan in mind: create a new Works Progress Administration.

“It’s apparent that there’s a lot of need out there, and it’s apparent that there’s a lot of works out there,” he told Raw Story in an exclusive interview. “We’ve got millions of people looking for work,” he added, and his plan has “the immediacy factor” that other plans — including the President’s — lacks….

Lautenberg’s legislation, called the 21st Century WPA Act, wouldn’t be exactly like the WPA that gave Lautenberg’s own father a job during the Great Depression. Rather, it would award funding to projects that would give jobs to people unemployed for more than 60 days; have a continued economic benefit after their completion; and would devote a “high” portion of each dollar spent to employee pay. The legislation suggests — but does not limit departments to — a variety of projects, including the construction of water treatment plants, schools and firehouses, highway repairs and maintenance, building weatherization and trail maintenance.

It probably won’t get past the Republican House, but good for Senator Lautenberg for trying.

I’m going to end this post with a unique depiction of the mind of a Wall Street titan.

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