February 2, 2012

Posted by orrinj at 9:14 PM

APPARENTLY THE TELEPROMPTER DIDN'T INSTRUCT HIM TO TRY TO BE CLASSY:

At prayer breakfast and with birth-control decision, Obama riles religious conservatives (David Nakamura and Michelle Boorstein,

President Obama drew on the Bible and his interpretation of the Christian faith Thursday to deliver a sharp, if tacit, critique of his chief Republican rival's economic program, speaking at a forum that in the past has been largely free of electoral politics.

Posted by orrinj at 9:12 PM

NO ONE GOES THERE ANY MORE, IT'S TOO CROWDED...:

Cafe draws patrons despite prices: The introduction of King Arthur Flour Cafe was intended to promote the social atmosphere of Baker Main Hall following its renovation in early 2011. (Michael Riordan, February 2, 2012, The Dartmouth)

Many students interviewed by The Dartmouth expressed satisfaction with both King Arthur Flour's location and the quality of its food options, and said they willingly opt to purchase food from the cafe rather than use meal swipes elsewhere.

Gabriela Josebachvili '15, who said she likes "King Arthur Flour more than oxygen," frequents the cafe up to twice a day and said she considers King Arthur Flour the best dining option on campus.

"Their location within the library is very convenient, so I can go while I study," she said. "Their coffee is the best coffee on campus -- certainly better than Novack, which is the only other place to eat in the library."

Josebachvili said she switched from the SmartChoice dining plan offering 20 meals per week -- which members of the Class of 2015 were required to purchase during their first term -- to the option of five meals per week in order to spend more on meals at the cafe this term.

"On the 20-meal plan, I would just get coffee because meals were too expensive," she said. "Now I can get a sandwich or salad without feeling bad."

Phoebe Palmer '14 said that King Arthur Flour's main draw is its central location on campus.

"Location is probably the biggest factor -- I honestly like Collis much better," she said. "If King Arthur Flour wasn't in the library, I probably would barely go 
there."

The relatively high price of items, with sandwiches costing around seven dollars with the addition of tax, is not a deterrent from eating at the cafe, she said. 
The College does not influence the price of items sold by independent vendors on campus, according to Anderson.

"King Arthur Flour is definitely expensive," Palmer said. "I'm from New York City, so I feel like I'm not as shocked by an eight or nine-dollar sandwich as I should be."

Zachary Myslinski '15 said he has only been to the cafe five times since the start of Fall term, often due to the long wait.

"Not only is the food expensive, but the lines are ridiculously inconvenient," he said. "It's more of a social space to meet people than a study area."

Posted by orrinj at 9:02 PM

REAGANIZING:

Spain's big fix will enrage many workers (Charles Wallace, 2/02/12, FORTUNE)

Faced with the highest unemployment in the developed world and an economy skidding into a double dip recession, Spain is about to embark on a series of Reagan-style financial and labor market reforms whose success could affect the future of the entire euro project.

Economy Minister Luis de Guindos told Fortune in an interview that the reform package would include two sweeping changes to the country's stringent labor rules with the goal of making it easier for companies to hire and fire staff and pay them according to their needs rather than meeting national regulations.

The other major initiative will be aimed at reducing the number of the country's problem banks by demanding that all institutions take hefty markdowns on their problem real estate loans.
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Posted by orrinj at 8:59 PM

APPLIED DARWINISTS OF A FEATHER:

Anonymous Expose Nazi Third Position 'Bridging Tactic' with Ron Paul (GIANLUCA MEZZOFIORE, February 2, 2012, IB Times)

The nationalist American Third Position Party (A3P) pursued a "bridging tactic" with the Ron Paul Revolution movement that support the Republican candidate for the White House, according to emails hacked by Anonymous. 

Calling for a "White uprising", A3P webmaster Jamie Kelso, whose email account was hacked by the collective, claims that his racist forum WhiteNewsNow is "the only W[hite] N[ationalist] forum working hard to form a bridge with the 100 times larger Ron Paul Revolution".

Other excerpts show Kelso's efforts in organising meetings between Ron Paul and other members of the A3P such as corporate lawyer William D. Johnson, chairman of the neo-Nazi A3P.

Johnson, who in 1985 proposed a constitutional amendment that would revoke the American citizenship of every non-white US citizen, founded the American Third Position along with anti-Semite Kevin MacDonald, professor at California State University, Long Beach.

"I'm going to go to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) with Bill Johnson," reads an email to an A3P member dated January 2011. "Bill and I will be meeting with Ron and Ran Paul. I have a teleconference call with Bill (and Ron Paul) tonight. Much more later. Things are starting to happen (thanks to folks like you)."

Posted by orrinj at 3:41 PM

THE HIGH COST OF ARROGANCE:

The days the Giants beat the perefct Patriots (Paul Oberjuerge, Feb 3, 2012, The National)

For three quarters, the game was a 7-3 affair led by the Patriots, the 12-point favourites to win. What few appreciated was the damage the Giants, better in both lines, were doing in the battle of big men, softening up the presumptive champions. When the fourth quarter arrived, the best Super Bowl erupted.

The Giants sprinted 80 yards in six plays for a go-ahead touchdown pass from Eli Manning to David Tyree. That was not the biggest play those two would produce.

The Patriots responded with an 80-yard drive of their own, regaining the lead at 14-10 on a touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Randy Moss with two minutes, 42 seconds to play, and that appeared to be that, the more accomplished team doing what they were supposed to do. Thanks, New York, for keeping it interesting.

The Giants, however, stunned the 70,000 in the University of Phoenix Stadium and nearly 100 million watching the game on television with an 83-yard drive that included the most amazing, astounding, ridiculous play in the history of the game.

On third-down-and-five, with the Giants still in their own half of the field and the punt team getting ready, Manning escaped heavy pressure (his jersey was nearly ripped off), rolled to his right and threw a long, desperately improvised pass towards Tyree, who was shadowed by Rodney Harrison, one of the finest defensive backs in the game.

Both men leapt for the ball. Tyree got his gloved hands on it, but one hand came off the ball as Harrison yanked at his right arm.

Tyree contrived to keep possession by pinning the ball, with his right hand, against his own helmet, something few have seen at any level of the game, and by the time he was on the ground he had secured it with both hands. (Replays showed the play to be even more remarkable than it appeared in real time.)

Four plays later, Manning threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress with 35 seconds to play, and a superior Super Bowl was in the books.

What made that game peculiar was that, despite nearly losing to the Giants during the regular season, the Pats--or, more accurately, Josh McDaniels--demonstrated a complete lack of respect for their opponents, starting with their first play from scrimmage, a bizarre fake end-around.  Happily, everyone is on board the Giants band wagon this time around and talking about the Pats even being blown out.
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Posted by orrinj at 3:27 PM

CAN NBC REALLY BE SHOWING ANYTHING BETTER TONIGHT...:

...than Groundhog Day?
Posted by orrinj at 3:27 PM

AT LEAST YOU'RE DAMAGING ADULTS, NOT KILLING KIDS:

After Lying About Providing Mammograms, Planned Parenthood Outraged That Breast Cancer Charity Cuts Off Grants (JOHN MCCORMACK, 2/02/12, Weekly Standard) 

Last spring, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards went on CNN and claimed that if Congress cut off funding to Planned Parenthood "millions of women are going to lose access, not to abortion services, to basic family planning, you know, mammograms." But as pro-life activist Lila Rose documented in a video, Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms.  [...]

"Wherever possible, we want to grant to the provider that is actually providing the lifesaving mammogram," [Nancy Brinker, founder and CEO of Komen foundation] said. 


Komen's Planned Parenthood decision all about politics (Lori Stahl, 2/02/12, Washington Post)

Brinker, a longtime GOP donor who was ambassador to Hungary under then-President George W. Bush, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2009. She has cast Komen as above politics, saying its focus is women's health.

But the decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood comes shortly after Komen unveiled a new partnership that strengthens its ties to the George W. Bush Institute. The institute is the policy-making arm of Bush's presidential library, which is scheduled to open in Dallas next year.

Thanks, W!



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Posted by orrinj at 6:59 AM

ON TURNING OVER THE ROCK:

Exit Newt (R. EMMETT TYRRELL, JR., 2.2.12, American Spectator)

 Ah, yes, Newt Gingrich did in the last days of the Florida primary precisely what I predicted he would do. He hurled wild charges at Mitt Romney that suggested Newt was losing his grip. He charged Romney with lying and falling into the hands of George Soros and Goldman Sachs, and he did this while seeking the Republican presidential nomination!

Newt quoted Soros as saying, "We think either Obama or Romney's fine, but Gingrich, he would change things." Citing Goldman Sachs' profiting from the bailout, he linked the Wall Street firm to anti-Gingrich ads, filling in the dots: "Those ads," he averred, "are your money recycled to attack me." On Sunday, he suggested that Rick Santorum drop out of the race and support him. Santorum had left the campaign trail to be with his desperately ill daughter. That is the kind of grace we have come to expect from Gingrich, who, by the way, supplied no evidence of Goldman Sachs' or of Soros's aiding Romney.

Newt lost support in his last week in Florida because conservatives gave him a closer look. 
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Posted by orrinj at 6:56 AM

NOW THAT HE'S WON, HE JUST NEEDS A "COMPREHENSIVE REFORM" OF HIS OWN:

Mitt Romney makes leap with Hispanics (Aaron Blake, 02/02/2012, Washington Post)

One of Romney's more remarkable turnarounds in the Florida primary between 2008 and 2012 was among the state's many Hispanic voters. While he increased his vote share overall by 12 points, from 31 percent to 43 percent, he increased his performance among Hispanics by 40, from 14 percent in 2008 to 54 percent on Tuesday, according to exit polls.

That's a pretty huge improvement, but how much does it mean going forward?

In reality, Romney's tiny share of the Hispanic vote in 2008 seemed to be at least partially about who he was running against, versus any issues Hispanics had with him.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), after all, was the chief Republican behind comprehensive immigration reform -- indeed, one of the only Republicans behind it -- and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani has long had a good relationship with the Hispanic community, including taking 43 percent of the Hispanic vote in his 1997 mayor's race.

Posted by orrinj at 6:53 AM

THE CHOICE:

Five Paths Forward for G.O.P. Nomination (NATE SILVER, 2/01/12, NY Times)

What Happens Next -- The Long Version: Mr. Romney gets a lift in national polls and takes a considerable lead in most surveys. He easily wins next week's caucuses, building further momentum. He begins to roll out more endorsements, including some important and surprising ones from conservative leaders who are trusted by the Republican base. Rick Santorum drops out and either endorses Mr. Romney outright or otherwise makes clear that he considers Mr. Romney the most acceptable choice. Newt Gingrich either drops out or reverts to running a half-hearted campaign.

Popular attention to the nomination race dwindles, and the news media's focus shifts to the general election. The outcome of Super Tuesday is a foregone conclusion. Any further losses that Mr. Romney takes are a result of special circumstances -- for instance, to Mr. Gingrich in Mr. Gingrich's home state of Georgia.

Precedent: The 2000 Republican race is the best example of a contest in which the front-runner, George W. Bush, lost a couple of early states but was perhaps never in any real danger of losing the nomination.

The Evidence For: This is a fairly common path, historically speaking. Nominations are generally not won without at least a few twists and turns -- in the modern primary era, Al Gore was the only non-incumbent to sweep all 50 states.

There is also theoretical evidence for this scenario in the political science scholarship. A nomination race is a delegate-counting contest in theory, but if at all possible, the nominee is picked by consensus, with influential party leaders nudging the process along if it seems to go astray. Mr. Romney is the clear choice of party leaders, having far more endorsements than any other candidate. He was also the only candidate deemed to be acceptable by a majority of Republicans in a January Gallup survey.
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Posted by orrinj at 6:47 AM

"SAY HOWDY TO GEORGE" (via The Other Brother):

Former Slave's Letter to 'Old Master' is a Cheeky Must-Read (JULIA GREENBERG, 2/01/12, IB Times)


A captivating letter from a former slave to his "old master" has resurfaced online.The letter is a response from ex-slave, Jourdon Anderson, after his former owner, Colonel P.H. Anderson of Big Spring, Tenn., asked Jourdon to return to his farm to work after more than 30 years of servitude. The must-read letter's expression is cheeky, but clear.

Jourdon responds to the request in a letter written on Aug. 7, 1986. By August 1865, Jourdon had already been emancipated, had moved to Ohio, had found paid work and was supporting his family of five.

According to a statement from the New York Daily Tribune in 1965, the letter was dictated aloud by the former slave. The letter's expression is cheeky, but clear. Unsurprisingly, Jourdan expresses his hesitance and unwillingness to return to Anderson's farm.

"Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living," Jourdan writes.




http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/01/to-my-old-master.html

Posted by orrinj at 6:42 AM

TOO BAD HE DIED JUST WHEN HE WAS BECOMING INTERESTING:

Press Man: Why They Wept for Hitchens (Andrew Ferguson -- February 2012, Commentary)

As I say, I'm not so sure that Hitchens would have welcomed a hit-obit directed at himself, though I think he would have been pleased if everyone else believed he was the sort of person who would welcome it, in an amused, all's-fair spirit. In the event, no hit-obit of any consequence appeared. What he got instead from the world of mainstream journalism was an outpouring of love and praise that was staggering in its dimensions. The fabled jadedness of the wizened American journalist disappears at the oddest times. Certain details and themes recurred in the graveyard prose: the heroic drinking, for example, and the astounding productivity, and the unlikelihood that the drinking and productivity should be found in the same person. His bravery at his life's end was noted, and his expansive, seemingly indiscriminate gift for friendship.

And then, as always in gushers like this, there were the failures of taste and tone. Andrew Sullivan, a well-known blogger, reprinted a New York magazine story about his arrival at a Hitchens party: Sullivan, the magazine reported, "greeted [the host] with a hug and a kiss. 'I want tongue. Give me tongue,' Hitchens implored, to no avail." Sullivan offered his readers this story through "suddenly unstoppable tears." It was left to other journalists to give Hitchens, at least in words, what Sullivan had so cruelly denied him in fact. "He was a wild and beautiful boy," wrote the left-wing activist Jane Mayer in the New Yorker. "The thirty or so years that we were friends are studded..." etc.

Her 30 years beats my 25, which I hope you remember from this column's opening line. Mayer's piece and the other tributes demonstrated that mawkish self-flattery is unavoidable among journalists when they compete to advertise their intimacy with the famous. I wish I kept a list of everyone who modestly admitted they "didn't know Hitch well" but nonetheless recalled an encounter with him in which he recognized, with mystical discernment, their soul-deep connection. ("I had passed the only test that mattered to him," wrote one editor...)

Most unexpected of all, at least by me, was the overpraise for Hitchens's habits of mind, and for his politics, which supposedly placed him courageously at odds with the establishment. "He offered a model of how to think," wrote one grief-stricken acquaintance. The PBS historian Simon Schama mourned the "unfillable space where his prose rocked and rolled in face of the demure, the hypocritical, and the ignorantly self-important."

Such excess obscures the most obvious conclusion we can draw from Hitchens's politics, which is that he was a crank. In the early 1980s he was convinced that the Reagan administration had colluded in the Soviet Union's downing of the airliner KAL 007. A few years later he was a vigorous promoter of the "Secret Team" theory that fit the Iran-contra scandal into a world-girding conspiracy of international bankers and private militias. A handful of memorialists dismissed his hatred of Bill Clinton as a lapse in judgment, but maybe you had to be there to see how unhinged it was: He really did believe that Clinton had been an accessory to the murder of a pair of hillbillies back in Arkansas. And the Queen, that "whore," was almost as evil as the Albanian dwarf. 

Posted by orrinj at 6:34 AM

THERE IS NO BRITAIN:

Could Wales leave the United Kingdom?: Talk of independence is growing - and the referendum in Scotland in 2014 is eagerly awaited. But could Wales really break free from England - and stand on its own? (John Harris, 2/01/12, guardian.co.uk)

As if to underline the idea that politics in Wales defies the staid norms of Westminster, both front-runners in the Plaid leadership contest are women. Wood's closest rival is 45-year-old Elin Jones from west Wales, whose odds of winning are currently put at evens. She is a much more strait-laced presence, but is equally convinced that the next few years could jump-start the case for Welsh independence. "If Scotland becomes an independent country, the UK ceases to exist," she tells me. "You get a combination of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Now, is that a country? Well, no, it's definitely not a country. Is it a state? It's so imbalanced that you couldn't make it up if you were starting from scratch. All that calls into question a huge number of issues about the future of what might be left, post-2014.

"I've said quite clearly that over the next 12 months I want to see us define a route map for independence in Wales," she says. "Two consecutive Plaid Cymru victories in an election could trigger an independence referendum. That could happen as early as 2020."

This, undoubtedly, is over-excited talk - but if you buy the idea that the UK is fracturing, and that Alex Salmond's success may not represent the only proof, there is still a specific Welsh story to tell. It may not point to independence - nor, given that large swaths of Wales remain firmly dominated by Labour, mean any huge advance for Plaid Cymru. But it says a lot about the increasingly separate journeys taken by Wales, Scotland and England, and the hugely uncertain future the UK now faces.

Not that many English people have been paying much attention, but since the late 1990s, devolution has inevitably created a specific and self-contained Welsh politics. Last year, a referendum granted the Welsh government full law-making powers in 20 fundamental areas, from health to transport, and an official commission is now looking at extending devolution yet further. On arriving here, you only need glance at the Western Mail to get an instant sense of a different reality: on the day I visit, the front page is taken up by stories about the Cardiff-produced Doctor Who, and the Welsh soccer star Craig Bellamy, along with the injured rugby internationals Dan Lydiate, Gethin Jenkins and Rhys Priestland, and Welsh first minister Carwyn Jones's latest attack on the coalition in London. "Dragging Wales to edge of double-dip recession," says the splash. "First minister hits out at UK government."

Big policy differences between Cardiff and Westminster extend into the distance. There are no Sats tests in Welsh schools, and until they are seven, children in primary education follow a "foundation phase" based on ideas from Finland and Italy, and built around "play and active involvement rather than completing exercises in books". Prescriptions are free, and the Welsh NHS will be unaffected by Andrew Lansley's market-based revolution. When the coalition in London raised tuition fees to £9,000, the government in Cardiff guaranteed to meet the cost of the increase for any student who lives in Wales. As with Scotland, there is a sharp sense of a shared politics well to the left of what prevails in England: I lived in Wales between 2004 and 2009, and though its brand of Celtic social democracy is far from perfect, there's a palpable sense of a society run along kinder, more communitarian ideas than those that hold sway to the east.


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Posted by orrinj at 6:28 AM

HOW WE UNDERESTIMATE HOUSEHOLD NET WORTH:

The human capital imperative: bringing more minds to America (Nick Schulz, 1/31/12, National Chamber Foundation)

Over the past few decades, economists, social scientists, and other scholars have begun to realize the importance of "human capital" to a nation's economic success. When we think of capital, we typically think of hard assets that can produce income over time, such as factories, farm equipment, and manufacturing plants. Human capital is another kind of capital. It is the stock of talent, skill, know-how, intelligence, education, and experience embedded within individuals that helps them to produce income.

Consider what this means for the American economy as it has changed over time. The American economy transitioned from largely agricultural roots in the 18th century to an industrial power in the 19th and 20th centuries to include a large service and advanced technology dimension today. Over that time, as sophisticated technology has penetrated to the center of economic life, the role played in the American economy by human capital has grown steadily larger. Greater amounts of human capital are required to develop and manipulate the technology that drives the economy. The American economy has gone from one that emphasizes brawn to one that relies on brains.

How important is this human capital? According to recent estimates, the stock of human capital is over $750 trillion. According to a research report from JP Morgan called "U.S. Recession and Repression Are Only in Our Minds," this is much greater than the roughly $70 trillion of physical and financial assets owned by American households.

Opposition to immigration isn't just antihuman, it's anticapitalist.

Posted by orrinj at 6:24 AM

"I HAD TO TAKE THE CHANCE":

Emlen Tunnell: The Giants' Greatest Packer (BILL PENNINGTON, 1/14/12, NY Times)

Emlen Tunnell, a star defender for the glittering, magnetic Giants, had been summoned to Green Bay. It was 1959, and the new Packers coach, Vince Lombardi, traded for Tunnell, ending his run of 11 record-setting seasons in New York.

A longtime Giants assistant, Lombardi was plotting a thorny overhaul of the bumbling Packers and needed allies from his roots. Tunnell, a dynamic safety and a Manhattan fixture in the golden era of New York sports, gamely made the trip halfway across the country to northeastern Wisconsin.

On arrival in his new home, Tunnell was told he had just doubled the black population in Green Bay. The city's other African-American, Tunnell heard, was the shoeshine man at the Hotel Northland.

"Well, I'll live there, then," Tunnell said.

And so he did. Lombardi paid the rent, which seemed well worth it to ensure Tunnell's contentment.

Tunnell, then 34, was brought to Green Bay to help instill the tenacious Giants defensive philosophy in the Packers, to school them in the confrontational ways of their new coach and, not insignificant, to make it possible for Lombardi to entice more African-American players to nearly all-white Green Bay.

And how did Lombardi know Tunnell could handle all that? Because Tunnell had performed many of the same duties for the Giants, beginning in 1948, when he was the first black player to suit up for them -- and then, in a game against the Packers, intercepted three passes.

In the N.F.L., where the sidelines always seem crowded with helmeted, faceless warriors whose careers are often brief, the everlasting worth and contribution of even gifted players can pass unnoticed, especially for those from the era before television. As the Giants and the Packers prepare for their divisional playoff game here Sunday, the remarkable life of Emlen Tunnell is a rarely recalled tale of a landmark player for each franchise.
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Posted by orrinj at 6:20 AM

SO WE DON'T HAVE TO CARRY REUSABLE BAGS ANYMORE?:

Fungi Discovered In The Amazon Will Eat Your Plastic (Michael J. Coren, Fast CoExist)

The group of students, part of Yale's annual Rainforest Expedition and Laboratory with molecular biochemistry professor Scott Strobel, ventured to the jungles of Ecuador. The mission was to allow "students to experience the scientific inquiry process in a comprehensive and creative way." The group searched for plants, and then cultured the microorganisms within the plant tissue. As it turns out, they brought back a fungus new to science with a voracious appetite for a global waste problem: polyurethane. [...]

The fungi, Pestalotiopsis microspora, is the first anyone has found to survive on a steady diet of polyurethane alone and--even more surprising--do this in an anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment that is close to the condition at the bottom of a landfill.
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Posted by orrinj at 6:15 AM

THE ONE FATE YOU WANT TO AVOID...:

Romney, Gingrich and the Power of Ideas: The front-runner is tilted too heavily toward biography and not nearly enough toward policy. (KARL ROVE, 2/02/12, WSJ)

While traditional news organizations have been balanced or slightly favorable in their coverage of Mr. Romney, the GOP blogosphere has been decidedly negative on him all January, pointing to continuing unease among conservatives. [...]

The Romney campaign is tilted too heavily toward biography and not nearly enough toward ideas. It should make its mantra a line from President Ronald Reagan's final address to the nation: "I never thought it was my style or the words I used that made a difference: It was the content. I wasn't a great communicator, but I communicated great things."

Mr. Romney showed he knows how to take an opponent down; now he needs to show the ability to build himself and the rationale for his candidacy up. He should become bolder in his prescriptions, presenting a confident agenda for economic growth and renewed prosperity through reforms of tax, regulatory and energy policies.

There's no reason he can't, or shouldn't do so. While Mr. Gingrich called Congressman Paul Ryan's entitlement reforms "right-wing social engineering," Mr. Romney complimented them last November. He can refresh that speech and give it again. He can also build on his best moments in recent debates, when he unapologetically and passionately defended free enterprise. Far better to best Mr. Gingrich in the weeks ahead by taking the fight to President Obama, challenging the incumbent's unpleasant attempt to appeal to envy and resentment.

...is ending up like Mr. Obama, elected but with nothing you want to do with your presidency.  His comments yesterday about helping the middle class--rather than the upper and lower, which don't need it--were a good start, provided he explains what that help is--accounts for Health, Retirement, unemployment, etc.

Posted by orrinj at 6:11 AM

TOUGH ROW TO HOE:

Obama Approval Above 50% in 10 States and D.C. in 2011: District of Columbia, Hawaii most approving; Utah, Idaho, least (Jeffrey M. Jones, 1/31/12, Gallup)

Obama's approval rating at the state level provides some insight into his chances to win an Electoral College majority. He would seem to be well-positioned in the states in which his approval rating was above 50% last year, including three of the larger states in California, New York, and Illinois. The states with majority approval of Obama in 2011 account for 159 electoral votes. Obama won all of those states' electoral votes in the 2008 election.

On the other hand, states in which his approval rating was below 40% seem less likely to recover enough to allow Obama to claim their electoral votes this fall. Those states account for 153 electoral votes. All except New Hampshire voted for John McCain in 2008.

Thus, the key to Obama's winning a second term lies in the states whose approval rating is in the 40% range, which account for the remaining 226 electoral votes and include traditional "swing states" such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Obama won the vast majority of these states in 2008.

Gallup and USA Today have identified 12 swing states that will be vitally important in this year's election, and Obama's job approval rating within those states ranges from 39% in New Hampshire to 48% in Michigan.


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