The best jokes at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2011-05-2008

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The best jokes at the White House Correspondents' DinnerThe best jokes at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Sunday Talk: Whoomp! (There it is)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2011-05-2008

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On the 828th day of his presidency, Barack Obama finally whipped it out — “it” being his [purported] long-form birth certificate.

Within minutes of the document’s release, carnival barker Donald Trump was proudly declaring himself King of the World.

Meanwhile, leading members of the birther movement began performing pseudo-forensic analysis, and quickly determined that the document is a forgery.

Their best piece of evidence is the fact that Obama isn’t classified as a “negro“, even though he clearly is one.

Can’t we all just move along?


DK Elections: The Week That Was

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2011-05-2008

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How different will the 2012 map be? New polls out this week give us a potential hint.

As we prepare to wave goodbye to April in a few hours, let’s take a look at the burning questions from the campaign trail from the past seven days:

  • What two states that were carried by President Obama in 2008 continue to look more perilous as he heads into 2012? Furthermore, which toss-up state in 2008 actually looks safer for Obama than it might have three years ago?
  • Before the political cartographers get to their map-drawin’ festival known as redistricting, might we have a marquee House race on our hands in 2011?
  • Why are both parties going to be paying rapt attention to some dude named Ross Miller in the coming week? Here’s a hint: it has to do with John Ensign.
  • What rapidly reddening state offered at least a little good news for Democrats this week?

All this…and more!…as we prepare to welcome May to the door by closing out the week with another edition of our weekend roundup.

THE RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE

NATIONAL: National general election polling slackens way off this week, with one of the sole contributions being a truly strange survey put out by internet-based YouGov. Why so strange? It is the most extreme example I have seen yet of the dichotomy we have discussed all year long. Obama’s job approval numbers are pretty awful in this poll (41/51), but he has sizeable leads over the GOP field, much more than we have seen elsewhere. Paired against just three GOP rivals, Obama leads Mitt Romney by nine (46-37), and lays waste to both Donald Trump (49-32) and Sarah Palin (52-34). If you buy stock in this poll, the GOP has to be petrified by this thought: at least 46% of the electorate is either “not too likely” or “not at all likely” to vote for the entire GOP first tier. That gives them what would seem to be a narrow window of opportunity to derail Obama’s re-election campaign.

Meanwhile, Fox News looks at the GOP field, and unlike a lot of recent polls, they get a clear separation in that so-called first tier. They have Romney (19%) and Huckabee (17%) with a significant lead over the rest of the field. Unlike most other polls, the rest of the field is considerably more garbled, with everyone in the single digits (Palin, Trump, Gingrich, and Ron Paul all run between 7-9%). They do not test general elex numbers, but they do run the President’s job approval numbers, and they find him right at the break-even point (47/47).

The House of Ras keeps moving their way back into the polling picture (but not enough yet to merit their own little holding cell, like they did in 2010), and they also look at the GOP primary. And, hey, who would know the GOP better than the kids at RR? They have Donald Trump pacing the field at 19%, with Romney (17%) and Huck (15%) just behind. The rest of the field languishes in single digits (some, as comedian Mark Russell once observed, getting only the middle one).

Only one other pollster released approval numbers this week. It was PPP, as part of the Daily Kos/SEIU State of the Nation Poll. The nums weren’t too appetizing (44/50). In sum, we have now gone over a month since a national poll showing President Obama’s approval in the 50s (you have to go back to a late March AP/GFK poll).

THE STATES: New data out this week makes it clear that President Obama could struggle in a handful of states that he carried comfortably in 2008. One of those states, New Hampshire (PDF), has been an issue for some time. Given how sharply the state veered away from Democrats in 2010 (after being solidly in the Dems corner in 2008, when Obama came close to a double-digit win here), Obama trailing a Republican here shouldn’t be an immense surprise. The Republican in this case (Mitt Romney) also claims NH as an adopted home state of sorts, which undoubtedly is a factor in his seven-point lead over Obama in the Granite State (50-43). The UNH poll tests Mike Huckabee for the first time, and gives Obama a lead, albeit a narrow one (46-42). When tested against dark horse Tim Pawlenty, the President holds a lead of seven points (45-38). His approval rating, meanwhile, sinks to its lowest point yet (44/52) in the state.

Meanwhile, as you read here on DK earlier today, the President’s fortunes in two other states he carried in 2008 are going in distinctly different directions according to new polling from PPP. Nevada seems to be trending away from the President slightly, as he now trails Mitt Romney there (46-43), and has smallish leads over the rest of the field there (2-11 points, all beneath his 2008 performance). As commenter Calvin Jones and the 13th apostle astutely noted, that could be the flagging Silver State economy drying up the President’s support in a state that has been battered by the lengthy recession. Also, as I noted earlier today, the President has seen his support plummet with Nevada’s growing Hispanic voting community.

Meanwhile, the new wave of North Carolina residents (and a more optimistic electorate overall) have kept that state in the blue column. President Obama, who barely won the state in 2008, holds leads ranging from 1-12 points over the GOP field in the Tar Heel State.

In other statewide presidential polling news, a number of early 2012 primary/caucus states offered up new data this week, but all it did, primarily, was echo the themes we have seen at the national level, with Romney and Huckabee leading with relatively small shares of the electorate. The sole exception, predictably, may have been New Hampshire, where the “pirate pollster” (ARG!) has Mitt Romney (32%) coming close to doubling up his nearest competitor (Donald Trump, at 17%). Most notable in the Granite State: Sarah Palin’s awesome 2% haul, which puts her in a dead heat with Herman Cain. In South Carolina, meanwhile, a pair of polls (from ARG and Winthrop University) show very similar results. Both have Mike Huckabee staked to a two-point lead over Mitt Romney (at or near the 20% mark), with Donald Trump running a somewhat distant third. Lastly, part of PPP’s package in Nevada included primary polling in the Silver State. Given his lead in the general elex polling, one might expect Mitt Romney to be lapping the field here. One would be wrong–Romney leads, but with only 24%. Trump (16%) and Gingrich (11%) trail Romney.

THE BATTLE FOR THE U.S. SENATE

THE POLLS: Speaking of Nevada, there was some big news out of the Silver State this week, with the (utterly predictable) announcement that Republican Governor Brian Sandoval had decided to appoint Republican Congressman Dean Heller to finish off the term of the soon-to-be-resigned GOP Senator John Ensign.

Just prior to that, the crew at PPP polled the pending Nevada Senate battle between the newly-minted GOP incumbent and his likely Democratic challenger, Las Vegas-area Congresswoman Shelley Berkley. And therein lay some good news for Democrats: Berkley has really tightened the gap between herself and Heller. What was once a double-digit GOP edge in Nevada is down to four points (47-43). The “decider”, in this case, appears to be Democrats, who are cooling rapidly to Heller.

PPP also polled the Nevada primaries, and they confirm that a Heller/Berkley general election matchup is the likely scenario. Berkley leads wealthy Democrat Byron Georgiou handily (65-8). But that race is a toss-up when compared to a potential GOP primary between Heller and 2010 nominee Sharron Angle. Heller leads that one…and no, this isn’t a typo…84-8. The words “buyers remorse” are coming to mind here, for some strange reason.

Meanwhile, PPP also polled West Virginia, and found that freshman Democrat Joe Manchin is managing to defy the rapid reddening of his home state (sadly, largely because he is plenty red on his own). Their poll of the Mountaineer State gives Manchin sizeable leads over all comers, including the most popular potential Republican in the field, Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (48-40). In a sign of Manchin’s considerable strengths, he now leads 2010 GOP nominee John Raese by thirty two points (61-29). Manchin actually defeated Raese by just ten points last year.

Meanwhile, in the Keystone State, chances are that Democratic incumbent Bob Casey will have to run against a real, breathing Republican. But on the off-chance that “generic Republican” actually pulls off the primary win among Pennsylvania Republicans, Casey is still in decent shape (46-34), according to Quinnipiac.

Lastly, for those up late at night worried about the GOP primary in New Mexico, we have an answer for you, as well. GOP pollsters Magellan Strategies hit that race, and find former Congresswoman Heather Wilson lapping the field, taking 59% of the vote to just 17% for state Lt. Governor John Sanchez.

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL:

  • The big news of the week did come from Nevada, where GOP Governor Brian Sandoval surprised precisely no one with his announcement that Congressman Dean Heller was his pick to replace scandal-tainted Senator John Ensign, who is set to make his resignation official next week.
  • Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, Democrats look like they have a legitimate candidate finally pulling the trigger on a bid. Former Senate candidate Alan Khazei is in. Others may follow, although their cause would undoubtedly be helped if prominent state Democrats would refrain from lionizing the Republican incumbent. Longtime Rep. Richard Neal is the newest Democratic member of the Scott Brown fan club. No word on whether 8×10 glossies of the Republican in his pickup truck are included with membership.
  • Speaking of candidate entries, a potential game-changing one in North Dakota. With the rather pedestrian early fundraising by Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk, now it looks like freshman GOP Congressman Rick Berg is eyeing the race. Within days of this revelation, however, a shout of “veto” was heard through the offices of the Club For Growth, who have determined that Berg is insufficiently loyal to the right-wing. Berg still seems more likely than not to make the run, setting up a potentially divisive GOP battle (which will ultimately be decided at a state convention). Now, if only the Democrats could find a top-tier candidate willing to make the plunge…

THE RACE FOR THE U.S. HOUSE

THE POLLS: Yes, Virginia, there is data to digest in the battle for control of the House. Two polls, in fact, though in fairness one of them is a bit of a stretch. The first poll, however, is intriguing as Hell. It comes from Siena College, looking ahead to the special election in New York-26. This race, to replace another scandal-tainted incumbent (Rep. Chris Lee, lover of women through the internets), was expected to be a GOP hold. But the race is surprisingly close, with GOP nominee Jane Corwin leading Democrat Kathy Hochul by just five points (36-31). The wild card here, oddly enough, is former Democratic nominee Jack Davis, who is running under his own “Tea Party” line. Davis polls in the low 20s, and draws a bit more from Republicans than Democrats.

The other poll to peruse is not a direct head-to-head, but may be an awfully appealing tea leaf for Democrats. It comes from a PPP poll out of Iowa. The PPP crew did statewide favorables, as it happens, for both incumbent Republican Rep. Steve King, and his near-certain opponent in the newly-drawn Iowa 4th district, former first lady Christie Vilsack. Statewide, Vilsack (38/23) is quite a bit more popular than King (27/34). Of course, there is a major-league caveat here: this is statewide, while Vilsack and King will be going heads-up in just one-fourth of the state (and the most conservative quarter of the state, at that).

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL:

  • The aforementioned appointment of Dean Heller to the U.S. Senate also opens up a first–a special election for a House seat in the state of Nevada. Courtesy of Governor Brian Sandoval, we now have a date for that contest–September 13th. Now all that is needed is clarification for the rules governing the election. That decision will fall on Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller. This actually could be a decision that has a bearing on the outcome: if the parties get to select the nominees, that would play into the GOP’s favor. The terrain naturally favors the GOP, plus it would allow Republicans to avoid being saddled with damaged goods in the form of Sharron Angle, who has already announced her bid. The other possibility is an all-candidate contest, a la Hawaii-01 in 2010. This would benefit Democrats in two ways: it would allow Angle into the field to do her magic, plus the deep GOP bench in the district would then work against Republicans, by splintering their support among multiple candidates. Assuming the Democrats can keep their options narrow, the math suddenly works in their favor.
  • Meanwhile, in northern Wisconsin, Democrats have found a legitimate candidate to take on freshman Republican Sean Duffy. Duffy, who first got a piece of ill-advised spotlight by decrying his financial woes on merely 4,000 per year, has invited a challenge from former Democratic state senator Pat Kreitlow. Kreitlow’s op-research got another boost last week, with another town hall related hissy fit from the freshman Republican.
  • Can the heat on embattled Democratic incumbent David Wu in Oregon-01 actually be helping the Congressman. There now appear to be a total of four legitimate Democrats either in the primary to battle Wu, or actively considering it. The danger, of course, is now Wu has the chance of squeaking to a primary win with 30-40% of the vote if his opposition is fractured among multiple candidates.
  • Democrats have to be a bit pleased this week, as several potentially intriguing districts look likelier to have Democratic candidates. In Minnesota-08, Franken staffer Daniel Fanning is mulling a bid against potentially vulnerable freshman Chip Cravaack. In the newly configured (and slightly more Dem) Indiana-08, longtime state legislator Dave Crooks is very close to declaring against freshman Republican Larry Bucshon. Meanwhile, one Democratic incumbent (conservative Rep. Heath Shuler) is now being met with a primary challenge in North Carolina-11. The challenge is coming from a potentially legitimate source, in the person of Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell. Republicans have a competitive primary of their own in Arizona-06, where state House Speaker Kirk Adams got in this week. Former Congressman Matt Salmon launched his bid last week.

THE BATTLE FOR THE STATE HOUSE

THE POLLS: In addition to the normally scheduled 2011 gubernatorial elections in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi, election junkies are getting a fourth race this year, courtesy of the resignation in West Virginia of former Governor (and current Senator) Joe Manchin. The departure of Manchin (a Democrat) opened up a potentially attractive chance for the GOP to steal a statehouse in the off-year. Not so fast, says PPP, who finds the Democrats well positioned to hold the mansion in West Virginia, despite the rapid conservative turn of the state at the federal level.

Any of the state’s quartet of Democratic hopefuls would be favored over the pair of GOP contenders, according to the PPP poll. Leading the Democratic charge is acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, who holds solid leads over either GOP challenger. Former Republican Secretary of State Betty Ireland comes closer, but “closer” in this case is a relative term. She trails Tomblin by 22 points (51-29). That’s still markedly better than Republican Bill Maloney, who trails by 33 points (56-23).

If one of the other Democratic hopefuls gets the nod, the lead is considerably less, but still a lead nonetheless. Natalie Tennant would lead by 6-13 points, while John Perdue would hold a similar edge (5-12 points). The closest contest would come if Rick Thompson got the nod, but he still holds an edge of either 3 points (against Ireland) or 10 points (against Maloney).

PPP also polled the primaries, and found both Tomblin and Ireland staked to double digit leads.

We do get one other poll this week, and it comes in a state that isn’t scheduled to have a gubernatorial election until 2014. But if a large number of Wisconsin residents have their way, they may see an election next year, in the form of a recall of GOP Governor Scott Walker. The poll, a poll by GOP firm Etheridge and Associates, shows a slight majority (51%) opposed to a recall of Walker. But, it’s worth noting, that’s not how the recalls in Wisconsin work. It is a straight election between the officeholder and an opponent from the other party. And if that opponent is…say…former Senator Russ Feingold, the race would suddenly be tied (48-48). And, remember, this is a Republican firm making the calls.

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL:

  • Maybe this is too much tea-leaf reading, but could this be a sign that we might see another Democrat vying to be Governor of Indiana? Former Congressman Tim Roemer stepped down as the ambassador of India this week, and a spokesman claimed it was for “personal, professional, and family reasons.” Ahem…professional reasons? Since the rumor mill said that Roemer didn’t have his eye on the Senate race, could a gubernatorial bid be in his immediate future? One potential caveat–Dems already got news this week of a legitimate contender mulling the race, as former state House Speaker John Gregg confirming he is eyeing the race.
  • Speaking of recalls, we may have another recall election in the midst. A three-person panel in Washtenaw County, Michigan (the home county of GOP Governor Rick Snyder) approved the language for a recall petition for Snyder. Now the signature gathering effort begins. Snyder’s opponents now have 90 days to gather 807,000 signatures. A sign of Snyder’s potential peril lie in the thousand-plus protestors who showed up outside the gates for his commencement address today at the University of Michigan.


Huckabee criticizes Obama at NRA keynote address

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2011-05-2008

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Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee called himself a “gun-clinger and a God-clinger” but didn’t come close to saying whether he’ll be a Republican presidential candidate next year when he delivered the keynote address Saturday at the annual National Rifle Association convention.

BP profits soar, predicts it soon will resume drilling in Gulf of Mexico

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2011-05-2008

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Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Wikimedia Commons

Just over a year after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, everyone can rest assured that everything will be okay. For BP, anyway:

Bolstered by soaring crude oil prices, BP reported a 17 percent increase in first-quarter profits and sought to convince investors that it was coping with the costs of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year.

The company’s earnings did show signs of spill damage. Asset sales last year, which were carried out to fund the costs of spill cleanup and damages, helped shrink the oil giant’s production of oil and natural gas by 11 percent compared with the first quarter of 2010. BP also set aside an additional 0 million to cover spill costs, on top of the .9 billion it had already reserved for those costs.

But the company, whose stock had plunged in the wake of the April 20, 2010, blowout on its Macondo well, also showed signs that it is managing the impact of the spill and will survive with many lucrative assets intact.

A temporary glitch, but profits are again soaring, and among those lucrative assets that BP expects soon to be helping expand its profit margins:

BP has predicted it will be back drilling in the Gulf of Mexico within a matter of months despite continuing legal threats and rows over pollution from last year’s Deepwater Horizon disaster. “We expect to be back and actively drilling during the second half of the year,” Byron Grote, the company’s chief financial officer, told financial analysts from the City of London on Wednesday.

The comments are likely to infuriate environmentalists who believe BP should be kept away from the Gulf and could upset a US offshore regulator still considering whether to grant permits to BP.

Verbal gaffes by former chief executive Tony Hayward in the wake of the Macondo well accident 12 months ago sent the company’s reputation in America into freefall as it attracted widespread criticism from the White House downwards.

But widespread criticism easily can be borne when there’s so much money to be made, including back in the Gulf.

The human and environmental devastation, the science, and any significant regulatory reforms be damned.


Gov. Brown has surgery to remove cancerous growth

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2011-05-2008

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In this photo taken April 6, 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown talks with reporters after speaking at the Alliance of California Law Enforcement Legislative Day in Sacramento, Calif.  Brown has under gone surgery to remove a cancerous growth on his nose, his office said Saturday, April 30, 2011.  The governor's office said in a statement that Brown had the procedure under local anesthetic Friday, after tests revealed the presence of basal cell carcinoma, a common slow-growing form of skin cancer, on the right side of his nose.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)Gov. Jerry Brown has undergone surgery to remove a cancerous growth on his nose, his office said Saturday.

AR-01: Rep. Rick Crawford can’t grasp the concept of an ‘either/or’ question

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2011-05-2008

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ARDem at the Blue Arkansas blog captured some truly great footage of freshman GOP Rep. Rick Crawford floundering at what was actually a mostly-friendly town hall. Crawford couldn’t handle the (very polite) heat being directed his way and cut off the hour-long event after just 23 minutes. But not before making quite a few boners. This exchange on the federal debt ceiling, though, is my favorite:

Man 1: It’s one or the other, which is it? Default or raise the limit?

Man 2: Which do you want?

Crawford: We’re not gonna default.

Man 1: So then you’ll raise the limit on the debt?

Crawford: No. I’m not saying that either.

I really can’t wait to see Crawford’s super-genius plan for avoiding default while simultaneously not raising the debt ceiling. Since this plan doesn’t exist, I’d settle for Crawford familiarizing himself the basic logical concept of the either/or question. I’m not sure that’s any more likely, though.


NH GOP gets back-to-back look at 2012 hopefuls (AP)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2011-05-2008

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Possible 2012 presidential hopeful, U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn. speaks during a We the People candidates forum, Saturday, April 30, 2011 in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)AP – With back-to-back events featuring multiple presidential hopefuls, it’s been something of an instant-replay kind of weekend for New Hampshire Republicans.

Obama keeps up push to end gas, oil tax breaks (AP)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2011-05-2008

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FILE - In this April 20, 2011 file photo, gas prices above five dollars a gallon are seen on a sign at a gas station in Washington. Americans are down in the dumps. Even though the economy is slowly recovering from the Great Recession, unemployment remains near 9 percent.  Gasoline prices have shot up to about  a gallon (almost a dollar a liter). That's about a third more than than just six months ago. It's pinching already tight household budgets. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)AP – President Barack Obama says oil companies are profiting from rising pump prices and he wants Congress to end billion in annual tax breaks for the oil and gas industry.

Palin raises profile; 2012 plans unclear (AP)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2011-05-2008

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FILE - In this Feb. 4, 2011 file photo, former Republican vice presidential candidate and Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin speaks at the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara, Calif.  It’s been a sliding spring for Sarah Palin. She's kept an uncharacteristically low profile. Her support among Republicans has shrunk. And there's no evidence that she's anywhere close to announcing whether she will run for president. But it's clear she still wants to be part of the conversation (AP Photo/Spencer Weiner, File)AP – Sarah Palin’s support among Republicans has shrunk and there’s no evidence she’s close to saying whether she will run for president in 2012.