Monday Reads: What Hath Newt Wrought?

Good Morning!!

How would you like to have to look at that poster until November? Well, quite a few of the pundits are now saying that it could happen. It’s still unlikely as of today, but it’s pretty clear the Republican base simply doesn’t like Mitt Romney, and the only other choices are a crazy old man, a guy who wants to ban birth control and divorce, and Newt Gingrich.

It’s not looking so good for Romney, unless he can start to connect better with Republican voters. He’s still the overall front runner, but if he can’t win big in Florida that could change. Unfortunately for Romney, there’s another debate tonight, and 88% of voters in SC said the debates were very influential in their voting decisions.

I’m fascinated by what is happening to the Republicans, and I spent quite a bit of time yesterday reading opinions on what Newt’s victory in South Carolina means and what might happen next. I thought this morning I’d share some of what I read with you.

Howard Fineman says the Republican race for the nomination will now last “forever, or at least until May.”

The GOP calendar this year is more spread out than it was four years ago, which means that the contest was going to last until at least late April even if Romney had buried Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul long ago. But now that South Carolina has given a boost to Gingrich — and a small but important cache of delegates — it’s clear how long the campaign will last….

Four years ago, nearly 60 percent of all delegates had been chosen by the end of February. Republican officials wanted to correct for that this time around, but they may have overdone it. This year a mere 15 percent of all delegates will have been chosen by the end of February — and even if there were a prohibitive frontrunner (which there is not), no one could mathematically wrap up the nomination before April 24.

Fineman explains that the states have different rules for apportioning delegates. South Carolina is winner take all in each Congressional district. New Hampshire is proportional, so right now Gingrich probably has more delegates than Romney. He suggests there could even be a floor fight at the Convention. And former RNC chairman Michael Steele agrees, saying there’s now a 50-50 chance of that happening.

At Real Clear Politics, Sean Trende writes:

There is no good news buried in here for Mitt Romney. None. As of this writing, Mitt Romney is leading in three counties in South Carolina: Charleston, Beaufort (Hilton Head) and Richland (Columbia). He lost fast-growing, coastal Horry County, home of Myrtle Beach, by 15 points. He lost Greenville and Spartanburg, in the upcountry, by similar margins. He lost Edgefield County by 40 points….

According to the exit polls, Romney lost among every major category of voter. The demographic groups he managed to win include those with postgraduate degrees (18 percent of the electorate), people earning $200,000 or more (5 percent), moderates (23 percent), non-evangelicals (35 percent), and pro-choicers (34 percent). None of the leads over Gingrich in these groups were particularly large.

He says Romney is no longer the inevitable nominee.

Simply put, there are very few states where he can perform among the major demographic groups the way he performed in South Carolina and still expect to win. And remember, this is still in many ways the electorate that selected Christine O’Donnell, Carl Paladino and Linda McMahon as its standard-bearers — in very blue states with relatively moderate GOP electorates, no less.

This vote was an utter repudiation of Romney, and it absolutely will be repeated in state after state if something doesn’t change the basic dynamic of the race. It is true that Gingrich doesn’t have funds or organization, but he gets a ton of free media from the debates, and he has an electorate that simply wants someone other than Romney.

Trende says there about a 35% chance that Romney could lose the nomination now. It turns out that Romney did get some delegates from SC–a total of 2 out of the total of 25. That’s pretty pathetic.

Read the rest of this entry »


Live Blog: South Carolina Republican Primary

Here we go folks! It looks like Mitt Romney is about to get an a$$ whipping. Newt Gingrich’s ego is going to fill the whole room tonight. I don’t think I can face listening to his speech. I still say Romney is going to be the nominee, but I’m glad things are getting a little more interesting.

The South Carolina polls close at 7PM, so in just a short time, we’ll start getting exit poll results. Judging by the talking heads on MSNBC, I’d say Newt is going to win pretty big. But we’ll know soon.

Here are a few recent headlines to hold you till we start getting results.

Buzzfeed: BYU Students Bus In To South Carolina To Rally For Romney

Politico: South Carolina Republican primary: 5 things to watch

CBS News: South Carolina primary exit polls: 2/3rds say debates mattered

Fox News: Gingrich, Romney close South Carolina fight with taunts

Washington Post: How Newt Gingrich’s past marriages may be helping him in SC

What are you hearing? Let us know in the comments!


Saturday Reads: South Carolina Primary Edition

You're despicable!

Good Morning! It’s Saturday, and tonight is the South Carolina primary and Sky Dancing will be following the results tonight. But I have cartoons on my mind. Last night I was watching Hardball, and there was a discussion of Newt Gingrich’s hissy fit at the beginning of the CNN South Carolina debate on Thursday night. Here’s the video:

Chris Matthews, Howard Fineman, and Eugene Robinson discussed Newt’s performance and decided that he hit all the right notes for South Carolina–anger at the media and the “elites,” a sense of being victimized by the power structure–and in fact may even beat Romney tonight. But the best part was when Eugene Robinson said when Newt said “despicable,” he (Robinson) couldn’t help thinking of Daffy Duck.

It’s such a perfect image for Newt’s self-righteous, overblown act. And it is an act, as far as I’m concerned. I loved the way he turned around the question about what he did to his ex-wife by talking about how *he* felt pain, not that he caused pain to his wife Marianne or anyone else. Here’s how I’ll forever think of Newt Gingrich from now on–as Daffy having a hissy fit.

And here’s what I’d like to say to Newt Gingrich:

Just one more …. What I’d like to do to Rick Santorum:

I know, I know, this is supposed to be a morning news post. So here are a few news and opinion links for you.

The latest polls suggest the South Carolina primary will be very close. The Clemson Palmetto poll has Gingrich in the lead.

“We expect a reaction by the electorate to the personal revelations about Gingrich to be registered on Saturday, however, we do not think it will be substantial enough to erase the lead Gingrich has over Romney,” said Clemson University political scientist Dave Woodard.

“Our head-to-head matchup of the candidates has consistently shown Mitt Romney competitive. The margin for Romney has evaporated this week, and we believe that Gingrich — who led our December poll with 38 percent to Romney’s 21 percent — will win the South Carolina primary,” he said.

Among poll respondents who had chosen or were leaning toward a candidate, this third Palmetto Poll showed Newt Gingrich (32 percent) leading the field over Mitt Romney (26 percent), up slightly from a month ago. Ron Paul came in third (11 percent), about even with his December poll rating. Rick Santorum remained in fourth place (9 percent), despite a significant jump over his ranking last month.

Wow! What an amazing turnaround for Daffy, I mean Newt. The NBC News Marist poll (PDF) showed the race tightening before the debate and even more so afterwards. And today’s Gallup tracking poll showed that Romney’s lead over Gingrich nationally has shrunk dramatically.

Mr. Romney’s position nationally as the front-runner appears to be weakening. In the latest release of Gallup’s tracking poll, conducted Sunday through Thursday, Mr. Romney leads Mr. Gingrich, 30 percent to 20 percent. Mr. Santorum and Mr. Paul are each supported by 13 percent.

At the start of the week, Mr. Romney had a 23-point advantage over Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Santorum. These results only partially reflect the events of the week, including the departure of Rick Perry on Thursday, the focus on Mr. Romney’s taxes, Mr. Gingrich’s two debate performances and the revelation that Mr. Santorum had apparently won the Iowa caucuses after all.

The NYT reports that Romney’s people are in shock over the sudden reversal of their fortunes.

With Mitt Romney facing the biggest challenge to his presidential aspirations since he announced his candidacy, his aides acknowledged Friday what seemed unthinkable just seven days ago: He could lose the South Carolina primary….

Having been stripped of his victory in Iowa on Thursday after a recount that gave the state to Rick Santorum, Mr. Romney now is in danger of being defeated in Saturday’s primary here by Newt Gingrich, who had been declared dead not once but twice in the past year, including less than two weeks ago when he finished fifth in New Hampshire. A new Clemson University poll of South Carolina voters released on Friday showed Mr. Gingrich with a six-point lead over Mr. Romney. It was within the survey’s margin of sampling error but captured a dynamic shifting in Mr. Gingrich’s favor.

At this stage of a primary election, campaigns work hard to manage expectations so they can put the best possible face on the actual voting results; Mr. Romney’s aides were no doubt being mindful of that as they spoke in relatively gloomy tones.

But, as Mr. Romney faced attacks from all sides, renewed questions about his own stumbles and whether he is conservative enough for the grass roots of his party, there was a real aura of apprehension coursing through his campaign. With his prospects of wrapping the race up quickly apparently diminished, Mr. Romney and his strategists began preparing his staff, his supporters and his financial bundlers for a longer and rougher march toward the nomination.

Boo hoo hoo. Poor Richie Rich! Karl Rove must be having a conniption fit. Honestly, I’d be worried if I thought the Republican insiders would ever give the nomination to Newt; but frankly, I’m still a lot more worried about Mitt winning it.

Charlie Pierce is down in SC right now. Let’s see what he has to say about all this.

It was always going to happen this way — Newt was going to go back into his wheelhouse, ripping the media and spouting in the general direction of the White House whatever pile of pejorative adjectives popped into his head at the moment. He tried, lamely, to be a statesman, and the party faithful ignored him. Once he became the vandal he was born to be, the political arsonist among the abandoned tenements of Republican thought, he was bound to take off again. The base doesn’t want someone whose ideas on job creation will triumph because they are superior to the president’s. They want somebody who can beat him bloody, vicariously, on their behalf, somebody who can “put him in his place.” They want someone who will kill the administration just for the sheer fun of watching it die. That’s why Newt’s fortunes took off after he slapped around Juan Williams on Monday night, and that’s why they went into hyper-drive on Thursday when he declared to be “despicable” any public mention of the chronic staff-banging that wrecked his second marriage and that helped wreck his speakership. Sooner or later, he was going to light the whole race on fire just to giggle over the flames, and that meant he had to come do it in South Carolina, and that meant he had to come do it in the upcountry around Greenville, where the base of the base always has been located, where people can be found who will gleefully join him around the bonfire, where is located the ancient home office of American treason.

“Look,” says Kellen Giuda, the young National Coalitions Director for the Gingrich campaign, waving his hand over a map of the state that hangs on the wall not far from The Cold War Room, “this area down here in the South, this was always more moderate. This is where McCain won last time. Up here, around Greenville, that’s always been the more conservative area. This time, people concentrated their effort down there near Charleston, because they wanted to get that whole military vote down there locked up. But, now, they’re starting to see that this is the place where the conservative vote really come from.” The endorsements are coming thick and fast now — Rick Perry! Michael Reagan! One-hundred Tea Party leaders from around the country! — and they are settling on Newt, and not on Rick Santorum, because Santorum, while admittedly a dick, is not an angry bully of a dick, and that’s what the base is looking for. In fact, the Gingrich campaign tore up its schedule on Friday, and will now have the candidate working the upcountry districts around Greenville hard all primary day.

“An angry bully of a dick.” Just what we need in the White House.

This is interesting: Catholic Leaders Challenge Gingrich and Santorum on Divisive Rhetoric Around Race and Poverty

More than 40 national Catholic leaders and prominent theologians at universities across the country released a strongly worded open letter today urging “our fellow Catholics Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum to stop perpetuating ugly racial stereotypes on the campaign trail.”

In the lead up to Saturday’s primary in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich has frequently blasted President Obama as a “food stamp president” and implied that some African Americans are more content to collect welfare benefits than work. Rick Santorum attracted scrutiny for telling Iowa voters he doesn’t want “to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.”

The open letter reminds the two presidential candidates, vying for Christian conservative voters, that U.S. Catholic bishops have called racism an “intrinsic evil” and consistently defend vital government programs such as food stamps and unemployment benefits that help struggling Americans.

The full text of the letter is at the above link. Let’s face it, both Santorum and Gingrich are just cafeteria Catholics. They go along with the Church on abortion, birth control, and other anti-woman positions; but when it comes to war, capital punishment, and caring for the poor and downtrodden, they go their own way.

Speaking of Santorum, Politico reported on his SC closing argument: “values.”

The former Pennsylvania senator retreated to comfortable territory, the conservative Upstate region of South Carolina, to speak to huge crowds about values and cement his base on the eve of the state’s primary.

“It’s decision time as to what South Carolina is going to communicate to the rest of the country,” he told the crowd at a packed town hall meeting in Boiling Springs.”What is the Upstate going to say? Who are they going to stand behind? What message are they going to send to country as to who the conservative standard-bearer will be?”

“It’ll be you, Rick!” audience members shouted, applauding.

Polls show that tomorrow’s race here is really between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich: Santorum is competing for third place with Ron Paul. But the former Pennsylvania senator has vowed to continue his campaign to Florida, which votes Jan. 31. A strong performance in the conservative bastions of South Carolina can propel his argument that he is the real conservative in the race.

I know Santorum has no shot to win the nomination this year, but my guess is he’ll be back in 2016. I think he’s very dangerous to democracy, and IMHO we need to keep an eye on him. As for Ron Paul, I’m boycotting him in this post.

That’s all I’ve got. What are you reading and blogging about today?


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

There’s another Republican Debate in South Carolina tonight. Can you believe it? This one is hosted by CNN. How much more of this torture can American stand? These debates just keep on coming! We’ll live blog this one later on, perhaps with some interesting variations on the theme.

Speaking of horrible things that never end, can you believe Obama is considering appointing Larry Summers to head the World Bank? Here I thought we were finally free of Summers, but the guy just won’t go away. He keeps coming back, no matter how ghastly of job he does. From Bloomberg:

President Barack Obama is considering nominating Lawrence Summers, his former National Economic Council director, to lead the World Bank when Robert Zoellick’s term expires later this year, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Summers has expressed interest in the job to White House officials and has backers inside the administration, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and current NEC Director Gene Sperling, said one of the people. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is also being considered, along with other candidates, said the other person. Both spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations….

A nomination of Summers would bring scrutiny of his previous stints in government, both as former President Bill Clinton’s Treasury secretary and Obama’s NEC director, as well as his tenure as president of Harvard University.

“Larry is controversial,” said Erskine Bowles, who served as Clinton’s chief of staff. “Anything you appoint Larry to, you know there are going to be some people who are going to take shots at him. But you know he’s a brilliant economist, which I think everybody recognizes.”

Oh really? If he’s so brilliant, then why is teaching college freshman? Why doesn’t he publish in academic journals? Why did he get fired by Harvard and the Obama administration? Enough with the retreads, Mr. President.

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Mitt Romney has admitted he pays somewhere close to 15% of his income in Federal taxes. NPR’s Here and Now had an interesting discussion yesterday about how he and other richie-rich folks get away with this. I recommend listening to the show if you have time. Here’s a bit from the write-up:

“Carried interest is the way that hedge fund managers and private equity firm managers get paid when they do a deal,” Howard Gleckman of the Tax Policy Institute told Here & Now‘s Robin Young.

Gleckman says private equity firms bring in outside investors. To get in on the deals, investors pay the firms in two ways– an initial fee, and a 20 percent cut of future profits.

When the owners of private equity firms pay taxes on that compensation from the investors, they pay as if it were capital gains– so that means they are paying a top rate of no more than 15 percent.

“Ordinarily if they were paid like the rest of us in wages and salaries, they’d be paying a top rate of up to 35 percent,” he said.

Gleckman said the carried interest tax arrangement is completely legal and not uncommon.

Bob McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice said that this kind of income comes from work and should be taxed as such. And Gleckman agreed, saying that capital gains taxes are lower because the goal is to encourage people to risk their own money. Romney isn’t doing that.

Here’s another explanation at Bloomberg:

Romney, one of the richest men to seek the presidency, probably benefits from a controversial tax break that allows him to pay a lower overall rate than do millions of American wage-earners whose votes he’ll need to capture the White House.

That’s because private equity executives, as Romney was for 15 years when he ran Boston-based Bain Capital LLC, receive much of their compensation as “carried interest.” That enables them to treat what would be ordinary income for other service providers, taxed at rates as high as 35 percent, as capital gains taxed at 15 percent….

Yet those investments were largely made by Romney’s former partners with other investors’ money, not his personal funds. The vast majority of the resulting gains represent compensation for Bain’s work acquiring, sprucing up and selling individual companies, critics say.

“This is labor income for them, not a return on capital invested,” said Victor Fleischer, an associate law professor at the University of Colorado whose 2007 paper on the topic helped spark a move in Congress to try to change the law. “It’s a method of converting one’s labor into capital gains in a way that’s unusual outside the investment management industry. Ordinary people wouldn’t be able to do this.”

If Romney just paid his taxes like the rest of us, he’d probably be doing a much greater service to the country than if he becomes president. BTW, the articles says that Obama has paid 31% of his income in taxes for the last three years.

But that’s not all. Romney keeps millions of dollars of his vast wealth in the Cayman Islands, a well-know tax shelter.

Official documents reviewed by ABC News show that Bain Capital, the private equity partnership Romney once ran, has set up some 138 secretive offshore funds in the Caymans.

Romney campaign officials and those at Bain Capital tell ABC News that the purpose of setting up those accounts in the Cayman Islands is to help attract money from foreign investors, and that the accounts provide no tax advantage to American investors like Romney. Romney, the campaign said, has paid all U.S. taxes on income derived from those investments.

“The tax consequences to the Romneys are the very same whether the fund is domiciled here or another country,” a campaign official said in response to questions. “Gov. and Mrs. Romney have money invested in funds that the trustee has determined to be attractive investment opportunities, and those funds are domiciled wherever the fund sponsors happen to organize the funds.”

Bain officials called the decision to locate some funds offshore routine, and a benefit only to foreign investors who do not want to be subjected to U.S. taxes.

Whatever. The guy is filthy rich, pays very little of his income in taxes, and has no clue how most Americans live. His attitude is that capitalism is sacred and if millions of “little people” are hurt by the machinations of people like him, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. And we shouldn’t have any safety nets for when things go wrong either. This man should never be POTUS.

A few more Romney items …

While he was at Bain Mitt used large donations of stock to the Mormon church to avoid paying taxes.

The New York Daily News got ahold of John McCain’s oppo research on Romney from 2008. “Talk about awkward,” the first line reads.

And here’s another awkward moment for the Mittster: Mitt Romney Allegedly Pulls Back Handshake Upon Learning That DREAM Act Advocate Is Undocumented.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney suddenly pulled back his hand after hearing that a young college student who greeted him at a New York fundraiser Tuesday night was undocumented, according to DREAM Act activists.

“He extended his hand to shake mine,” the young woman told The Huffington Post. “But once I said I was undocumented, he pulled his hand away from me.”

The 19-year-old college student, who asked to be identified only as Lucy because of her undocumented status, said she was also booed by Romney supporters as she was escorted out of a New York City fundraiser. One of the supporters told her to “go back to Mexico,” and she responded that she was “actually from Peru,” according to her account of the event.

Oops! There goes the Latino vote….

But we can’t forget that Romney still has at least one viable competitor for South Carolina’s delegates–food stamp obsessive and child labor advocate Newt Gingrich. Guess what Newt’s been up to? He’s using a fund-raising letter to threaten to punch out Barack Obama

Newt Gingrich’s campaign sent out a fundraising request to supporters this afternoon touting that the former speaker said he wants to knock Obama out, because, as the subject line of the email suggests, “A Bloody Nose Just Won’t Cut It.” The comment comes from a recent town hall where a questioner asked Gingrich how he would “bloody Obama’s nose.” “I don’t want to bloody his nose, I want to knock him out!” Gingrich responded. “This is exactly why Newt Gingrich is the candidate who must face Obama,” campaign spokesman RC Hammond says in the email, above a bright red “Donate” button.

You just can’t make this stuff up!

Conor Friedersdorf has an excellent response to Andrew Sullivan’s silly Newsweek article defending Obama’s accomplishments as President. I think Friedersdorf is a liberatarian, but his assessment on Obama is still on point. Check it out. I’ll just reproduce his list of Obama’s “accomplishments” here:

(1) Codify indefinite detention into law; (2) draw up a secret kill list of people, including American citizens, to assassinate without due process; (3) proceed with warrantless spying on American citizens; (4) prosecute Bush-era whistleblowers for violating state secrets; (5) reinterpret the War Powers Resolution such that entering a war of choice without a Congressional declaration is permissible; (6) enter and prosecute such a war; (7) institutionalize naked scanners and intrusive full body pat-downs in major American airports; (8) oversee a planned expansion of TSA so that its agents are already beginning to patrol American highways, train stations, and bus depots; (9) wage an undeclared drone war on numerous Muslim countries that delegates to the CIA the final call about some strikes that put civilians in jeopardy; (10) invoke the state-secrets privilege to dismiss lawsuits brought by civil-liberties organizations on dubious technicalities rather than litigating them on the merits; (11) preside over federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries; (12) attempt to negotiate an extension of American troops in Iraq beyond 2011 (an effort that thankfully failed); (14) reauthorize the Patriot Act; (13) and select an economic team mostly made up of former and future financial executives from Wall Street firms that played major roles in the financial crisis.

Unfortunately, he didn’t include Obama’s many contributions to the war on women.

Speaking of Obama’s war on the Constitution, Chris Hedges is going to court to sue Obama over the indefinite detention portion of the NDAA.

Attorneys Carl J. Mayer and Bruce I. Afran filed a complaint Friday in the Southern U.S. District Court in New York City on my behalf as a plaintiff against Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to challenge the legality of the Authorization for Use of Military Force as embedded in the latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act, signed by the president Dec. 31.

The act authorizes the military in Title X, Subtitle D, entitled “Counter-Terrorism,” for the first time in more than 200 years, to carry out domestic policing. With this bill, which will take effect March 3, the military can indefinitely detain without trial any U.S. citizen deemed to be a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism. And suspects can be shipped by the military to our offshore penal colony in Guantanamo Bay and kept there until “the end of hostilities.” It is a catastrophic blow to civil liberties.

I spent many years in countries where the military had the power to arrest and detain citizens without charge. I have been in some of these jails. I have friends and colleagues who have “disappeared” into military gulags. I know the consequences of granting sweeping and unrestricted policing power to the armed forces of any nation. And while my battle may be quixotic, it is one that has to be fought if we are to have any hope of pulling this country back from corporate fascism.

Thanks to Hedges for putting his money where his mouth is.

I’ll end with this piece from Reuters: Sunk! How Hollywood Lost the PR Battle Over SOPA.

In the space of a couple of days, Hollywood and its content creators lost the public relations war over Internet piracy SOPA legislation — which now appears poised to crumble into a million bits of dust.

Wow.

The messaging industry never had control of the message.

The tech guys found a simple, shareable idea — the Stop Online Piracy Act is Censorship — made it viral, and made it stick.

Hollywood had Chris Dodd and a press release. Silicon Valley had Facebook.

It shouldacoulda been a fair fight. But it wasn’t.

It seems that Hollywood still does not realize that it is in the information age. Knowledge moves in real time, and events move accordingly. The medium is the message in a fight like this.

I disagree that the fight is over, but it’s nice to see the battle for free speech and privacy getting some corporate media ink.

So … what are you reading and blogging about today?


Tuesday Reads: SC Republican Debate, Karen Santorum, and Did Mitt Really Win Iowa?

Good Morning!!

Last night was the Fox News/WSJ South Carolina Republican Debate. As usual, it was a nightmare. It’s so strange to listen to people who feel they need to defend themselves if they ever did a decent thing in their lives or ever subscribed to some rational opinion or policy. And these men claim to be “Christians.” We had a live blog of the horrible thing, so check it out if you’re interested in what we said off the top of our heads.

I’m writing this late Monday night, so all the reactions to the debate haven’t come out yet. I’ll update in the comments in the morning, but here’s a preliminary report from Fox News.

Gingrich and Perry led the assault against Romney’s record at Bain Capital, a venture capital firm that bought companies and sought to remake them into more competitive enterprises.

“There was a pattern in some companies … of leaving them with enormous debt and then within a year or two or three having them go broke,” Gingrich said. “I think that’s something he ought to answer.”

Perry referred to a steel mill in Georgetown, S.C. where, he said, “Bain swept in, they picked that company over and a lot of people lost jobs there.”

Romney said that the steel industry was battered by unfair competition from China. As for other firms, he said, “Four of the companies that we invested in … ended up today having some 120,000 jobs.

“Some of the businesses we invested in were not successful and lost jobs,” he said, but he offered no specifics.

Romney claimed that the steel mill in SC that went bankrupt had been purchased by another company after he left Bain, and that all the employees were offered jobs, but not at union wages. Perry also demanded that Mitt release his tax returns. Mitt very nervously said he would “probably” do that in April. He is leaving the decision “open,” but made no definite commitment. Romney supported indefinite detention of American citizens without due process, while Ron Paul argued that American citizens should have the right of Habeas Corpus.

The Wall Street Journal had a live blog of the debate as did the Washington Post and Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast.

Did you know that Karen Santorum lived with an abortion doctor close to three times her age before she met and married Rick? There’s a pretty detailed piece on this at The Daily Beast. Mrs. Santorum’s

live-in partner through most of her 20s was Tom Allen, a Pittsburgh obstetrician and abortion provider 40 years older than she, who remains an outspoken crusader for reproductive rights and liberal ideals. Dr. Allen has known Mrs. Santorum, born Karen Garver, her entire life: he delivered her in 1960.

“Karen was a lovely girl, very intelligent and sweet,” says Allen, who at 92 uses a walker but retains a sly smile. A wine aficionado who frequented the Pittsburgh Symphony and was active in the local chapter of the ACLU, he lives with his wife of 16 years, Judi—they started dating in 1989, soon after he and Garver split—in the same large detached row house where he lived with the woman who would become Santorum’s wife. He and Garver also lived for several years in another house a few blocks away. “Karen had no problems with what I did for a living,” says Allen, who helped start one of the first hospital-sanctioned abortion clinics in Pennsylvania. “We never really discussed it.”

Karen Garver Santorum with former live-in lover

In fact, Karen told her older lover that he would like Rick, who was then pro-choice and “a humanist.” More from Hass’ story:

Mary and Herbert Greenberg, longtime friends of Allen’s through Herbert’s job as concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony, recall that Karen had seemed entirely familiar and comfortable with the subject of abortion when the couples socialized. In October 1983, Mary Greenberg (who had moved to Baltimore with her husband) flew to Pittsburgh to consult Allen about an abortion. He directed her to colleagues at the Women’s Health Center; Karen, recalls Mary, immediately offered to accompany her to the clinic. “She told me it wasn’t that bad, that I shouldn’t be worried,” says Mary, who ultimately went on her own, and met Allen and Garver for dinner later that night. “She was very supportive.”

Allen says they split up because Karen wanted to have children and he had been there and done that already.

I’m just fascinated by this. I spent most of yesterday reading about the Santorums, and trying to figure out when and how their dramatic conversion took place. Neither was raised in a fundamentalist home, and neither was particularly religious before they got married. Then something happened. It really smells cult-like to me. I’m wondering if Santorum was approached by a fundamentalist group when he entered national politics. According to friends, he was a moderate Republican at first and then suddenly went off the deep end. If I can figure out what happened, I’ll write a post about it.

This is interesting. According to the Washington Times, fundy activists are now fighting over the endorsement of Santorum by the group of 150 who met in Texas on Sunday.

In an evolving power struggle, religious conservatives are feuding about whether a weekend meeting in Texas yielded a consensus that former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is the best bet to stop Mitt Romney’s drive for the Republican presidential nomination.

A leading evangelical and former aide to President George H.W. Bush said he agreed with suspicions voiced by others at the meeting of evangelical and conservative Catholic activists that organizers “manipulated” the gathering and may even have stuffed the ballot to produce an endorsement of Mr. Santorum over former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Mr. Santorum, who nearly upset Mr. Romney in the Iowa caucuses, won the first ballot ahead of Mr. Gingrich in Saturday’s Texas meeting but the margin was too slim for organizers to claim a consensus. It was not until the third ballot, taken after many people had left to catch flights back home, that Mr. Santorum won more than 70 percent of those still in attendance and claimed the endorsement.

Former White House evangelical-outreach official Doug Wead, who represented GOP presidential hopeful Texas Rep. Ron Paul at the event, said it appeared the outcome obviously was determined in advance by the choice of the people invited.

The article is pretty funny. Read it if you enjoy fights among right wing nuts.

There has been talk that Romney was credited with too many votes in Iowa and should have come in second. Now Byron York is saying it could be true. According to York,

there is a very real chance that the Republican Party of Iowa will announce this week that Rick Santorum, and not Romney, won the Iowa caucuses.

Results released on caucus night — actually, at 2 the next morning — showed Romney won by eight votes, 30,015 to Santorum’s 30,007. Many observers assumed that those results were final, especially when party officials said there would be no recount.

But the results were not final. Even though there is no provision for a recount in the party caucuses, state GOP rules do require that the results be certified, which is nearly the same thing. That certification process began the day after the caucuses and is expected to wrap up this week, yielding a final, official vote tally…..

In the past two weeks, party employees have been working nearly nonstop to certify the results from each of Iowa’s 1,774 precincts. During that time, they have regularly briefed campaign representatives on what’s going on. In the next few days, they are expected to finish tallying and certifying the last Form Es and come up with official certified results.

The final numbers will be different from those released on caucus night. One campaign source says the vote count as of midday Monday showed Santorum ahead by 80-something votes. If that number holds through certification of the last precincts, Santorum will win. Of course, there is always the possibility that some of the final precincts will contain discrepancies that put Romney back on top. It’s just not clear.

Hmmmmmmm….

Many internet sites, including Sky Dancing plan to go dark tomorrow, Jan. 18, as a protest against the Stop on-line piracy (SOPA) and Protect IP (PIPA) acts. The big news last night was that Wikipedia is joining the protest.

Might want to get your Encyclopedia Britannica set out of storage: Wikipedia will go dark Wednesday, joining a growing number of popular websites staging an online revolt against two anti-piracy bills.

Founder Jimmy Wales made the announcement in tweets on Monday, telling followers his goal is to “melt phone systems in Washington” in opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the PROTECT IP Act in the Senate.

The online protest puts Wikipedia in the company of other websites such as Reddit and popular games such as Minecraft in leveraging its substantial size and clout to campaign against the bills. Wales suggested on Twitter the impact of the blackout could be significant, given that “comScore estimates the English Wikipedia receives 25 million average daily visitors globally.”

We’ll have more information today on Sky Dancing’s plans. As of now, we plan to black out our site beginning at 8AM Wednesday. The protest is scheduled to end at 8PM Wednesday night, so we’ll be posting after that.

That’s all I’ve got for you today. What are you reading and blogging about?


Evangelical Leaders Agree to Back Santorum

Yesterday around 150 evangelical leaders met at a Texas ranch to discuss a last ditch effort to deny Mitt Romney the Republican presidential nomination. In the end, a large majority agreed to support Rick Santorum, although they stopped short of asking other candidates to drop out. In anticipation of the meeting, Peter Wallsten and Karen Tumulty wrote in the Washington Post:

A near-panic has taken hold among some core conservative activists, who are now scrambling to devise a strategy to deny Mitt Romney the Republican presidential nomination….

Many of these activists see South Carolina’s primary on Jan. 21 as their last best hope of stopping Romney by consolidating in a united front against him. But many acknowledge that they have yet to figure out which of the remaining conservative rivals to rally behind and which should get out.

The Romney conundrum will be on the agenda Friday when about 150 evangelical leaders huddle at a Texas ranch to debate their next move. Likewise, the subject of consolidating conservative opposition to the former Massachusetts governor is expected to be a major point of discussion among about 500 attendees at a tea party convention set for this weekend in Myrtle Beach, S.C., where the list of speakers includes two Romney rivals seeking the conservative mantle, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.

According to the Christian Broadcasting Network:

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council says conservatives are looking for a candidate who will repeal the nation’s health care law, fight for pro family values and address the national debt….

Expect conservative groups to start individually motivating their constituents to work for Santorum. Also look for more money and resources to start pouring into Santorum’s campaign. No question about it, this is excellent news for Santorum’s camp and a major blow to the Gingrich and Perry camps.

The LA Times has more from Perkins, who must be the ringleader of this uprising.

Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, said the decision was reached after three rounds of balloting, with Santorum winning 85 votes in the final round, to Newt Gingrich’s 29. Texas Gov. Rick Perry had strong support at the beginning of the process, but was eliminated after the first round of balloting, Perkins said.

“The focus here was on people putting aside their preferences, putting aside the candidate they had signed up with, trying to reach a consensus,” Perkins said.

“Rick Santorum has consistently articulated the issues that are of concern to conservatives, both the economic and the social, and has woven those into a very solid platform,” Perkins said. “And he has a record of stability…He’s reliable.”

As I see it, they’ve chosen the candidate least likely to appeal to general election voters. I can’t imagine Santorum winning the nomination. I guess the real question is how many of these evangelicals will come around to voting for Romney in the end and how many of them will sit stay home on election day.


Open Thread: Stephen Colbert Enters Race for Republican Nomination

Reuters:

The Comedy Central funny man announced his intention to run for president of the “United States of America of South Carolina” at the taping of his show Thursday night and will try to compete in South Carolina’s GOP primary Jan. 21.

“I’m proud to announce I plan to form an exploratory committee to lay the groundwork for my candidacy,” Colbert said….

While Colbert won’t actually compete for the GOP nomination in the general election, this may give Republicans another option beyond Mitt Romney in a pivotal state. Every Republican presidential candidate since 1980 has won South Carolina’s primary.

“Clearly my fellow South Caroliniacs see me as the only Mitternative,” Colbert said.

The decision followed the news that Colbert is polling higher than Jon Huntsman in South Carolina–at 5%.

On tonight’s Daily Show, Colbert transferred control of his super PAC to Jon Stewart, since candidates aren’t permitted to have super PAC’s

If only he could participate in the debates!