Thursday, January 19, 2012

Last Call

The final debate before the GOP primary in South Carolina was still uniformly awful, but if anything it shows that Mitt may end up being the weakest major party nominee in decades.

It was a huge shift for Romney, who’s emerged from more than a dozen debates as a winner, mostly because no one could land a blow against him. There have been gaffes a plenty, of course — from “I’m running for office for Pete’s sake” to the $10,000 bet — but Romney’s always had the air of a frontrunner, rather than the guy playing catch up.

That wasn’t true Thursday. After days of stumbling through stories about his tax rate and his resistance to release his returns, Romney’s bad few days came to a head at the debate.

When asked whether he’d release more than a single year’s tax returns, Romney said “maybe,” prompting boos and jeers from the audience. “I don’t know how many years I’ll release.”

“I’m not going to apologize for being successful,” he said. “I’m not suggesting these people are doing that but I know that Democrats will go after me on that basis and that’s why I want to release these things all at the same time. “

I honestly thought John King served up volleyball after volleyball just to see who could spike Romney in the head the hardest.  He got mauled by all three opponents, while Romney just fell apart, spewing vapid talking points while he searched in vain for a way out.

I'll tell you what, President Obama is going to make shredded wheat out of this guy.

Who Wants To Tax A Millionaire?

Mitt Romney says his effective tax rate was "closer to 15%" last year.  Who paid a higher tax rate than Mittens did in 2011?  If you made more than $50,000 in income last year, the answer is "You, sucker!"

Now that Mitt Romney's confirmed what we've long suspected about his effective federal tax rate -- "It's probably closer to the 15 percent rate than anything" -- we have a fact worth contextualizing. Though it could easily be less, assume Romney effectively pays 15 percent in taxes on all his income to the federal government. How does he stack up to the rest of us, most of whom are regular wage earners? When you account for the fact that most people also pay payroll taxes, and don't enjoy enormous deductions, credits or other benefits, you see that Romney's making out about as well as a taxpayer who makes $50,000 a year. Not bad for a man whose net worth is estimated to be in the neighborhood of a quarter billion dollars.  

And every single Republican running for President thinks Mitt Romney pays too much in taxes.  All of them want to sharply cut or eliminate totally the capital gains tax.  Meanwhile, nearly all of their flat tax plans would raise taxes on the poorest Americans while cutting them for those making six figure incomes or more.

That's what's in store if the GOP gets control, folks.

The Moose And The Newt

Newt must really think he has a shot in South Carolina.  The polls are tightening up in the state, cutting Romney's 20 point lead over the pack to just 10.  Newt's in striking distance and he knows it...enough that he's playing the Palin card.

If Newt Gingrich wins the White House in November, the former House speaker said Wednesday Sarah Palin may get a big seat at the table.

"I would ask her to consider taking a major role in the next administration if I'm president, but nothing has been discussed of any kind," Gingrich said on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."

His comments came one day after Palin urged South Carolina voters to head to the polls for Gingrich during Saturday's first-in-the-South primary.

She said a win for Gingrich would prolong the Republican primary and allow voters more time to vet the remaining candidates.

She's right, but not for the right reasons.  It'll extend the primary season alright, but it will weaken the eventual nominee.  I'm okay with that, and apparently so is Sarah Palin.  Way to go, dear.  Keep up your plan.

Blackberry Jam: Death Rumors

There is a rumor that Samsung is considering buying Research In Motion.  It seems Microsoft and Nokia took a pass, losing interest after the declining role of Blackberry products in the cell phone and tablet markets.  Amazon was another rumored buyer, but that fell through as well.  One article says RIM is greatly overestimating their value.  I agree.  Regardless, it makes sense to start negotiations on the high end and work down.

Recently, CNET published a story saying RIM hired Goldman Sachs to help them field potential buyers.  It makes sense, and it's the right time.  RIM has nothing but a slow decline to look forward to.  Their newest products are just a repeat of the same old stuff.  If you've had one Blackberry, you've really had them all.  They do not command development or attention like they used to, and businesses are flooding to Android phones because they mesh well with the Google palate of services.  Google has theoretically secured email and file sharing enough that a modest operator can control access and get the full benefit from the free options.  The exceptions are few and far between, and they aren't buying Blackberry phones.

It's sad.  We all saw it coming, but I take no joy in watching Blackberry fall through.  They brought about a lot of changes and was a gateway to the smart phone lifestyle.  But they failed to evolve and stay on top, so their time is nearing an end.

What's In The Ba...OH MY GOD!

Two men were walking several dogs in a park in Hollywood.  They were at the bottom of the hill where the famous Hollywood sign stands.  The dogs found a discarded bag and started playing it it.  The two men weren't concerned at first, then the stopped to check out what had caught the attention of the pets.

It was a human head.

Of course, there is an investigation underway, and we'll surely post an update as more becomes known.  This type of thing is incredibly rare, despite what Hollywood would have you believe (sorry, couldn't resist the pun).  One has to wonder if it was intended to get attention or if it's just a coincidence.

Harry Bosch could tell us for sure.

But I Think It's Just A Matter Of Trust

The third annual PPP TV news trust poll is out, and the bottom line is Americans are just as polarized as their news sources.

Fox is the most trusted TV news source for 34% of voters, followed by PBS at 17%, CNN at 12%, ABC News at 11%, CBS News at 8%, MSNBC at 5%, and Comedy Central and NBC each at 4%.

68% of Republicans pick Fox as their most trusted source, with no one else even hitting double digits. Democrats split closely three ways with PBS at 21%, ABC News at 19%, and CNN at 17%. Despite having a reputation for appealing to the left MSNBC actually polls in only 6th place among Democrats at 8%, finishing slightly behind even Fox News' 9%. Independents split almost evenly between Fox News (29%) and PBS (27%).

Fox is also the least trusted TV news source for 34% of voters, followed by Comedy Central at 16%, MSNBC at 15%, CNN at 11%, ABC News at 7%, CBS News at 5%, PBS at 2%, and NBC News at 1%.

Democrats (53-17 over Comedy Central) and independents (44-13 over Comedy Central) both overwhelmingly say Fox is their least trusted news source. Republicans go for MSNBC by a 28-23 margin over CNN, followed by Comedy Central at 18% and ABC News at 10%. 

Those numbers are better than 2010 overall, but not by much.  Still, it's interesting to see that only PBS was trusted by a majority of Americans (52%) , and overall ABC News came in behind MSNBC in the trust department.

I blame George Will.

We'll Just Call It A Tie

In an example of just how terribly corrupt Republican party officials are, the official, certified results of the Iowa caucus are finally in and Rick Santorum actually won by 23 votes.  The Iowa GOP has decided to call it a tie instead.  Josh Marshall:

The rationale for calling this a tie, according to the Des Moines Register, which has the story as an exclusive, is that 8 precincts’ numbers are lost permanently and will never be certified. So in practice it’s a tie, too close to call, etc. That of course probably applies to pretty much all recount type elections — Bush v Gore, maybe Franken v. Coleman, etc. The vagueries of the process itself is too imprecise in some sense to tell you who ‘won’ in some Platonic (the other sense of the word) sense. But in normal elections where the people holding it aren’t deeply invested in not letting one guy win we have a name for that kind fo situation — Rick Santorum won.

Of course, it’s unlikely to do Santorum much good at this point. And he probably just was never a good enough, or viable enough, candidate to have truly shifted his fortunes even if it had come out on caucus night. But it’s worth speculating how the news would have affected Romney’s momentum. A win is a win, as the state GOP of Iowa seems to have a hard time now accepting. And even though it was razor close, Romney came out of Iowa with a win. And after a rout in New Hampshire he had two ‘wins’. And together those shifted where the race was pretty decisively by mid-January, finally forcing a lot of Republicans with Mitt-commitment issues to get on board.

In other words, the call in Iowa then made Mitt all but inevitable now.  It'll be interesting to see how the Republicans react to this on the road.  If Mitt wins Saturday, it's over.  But would he have still done the same if Santorum had been rightfully declared the winner in Iowa?

We'll never know.  Republicans aren't terribly interested in facts, just results.  Remember that the next time they play the ACORN/UNION THUGS/BLACK PANTHERS!!!!11!!one! card.


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