Showing newest 80 of 223 posts from December 2008. Show older posts
Showing newest 80 of 223 posts from December 2008. Show older posts

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ranking the top 25

David Bernstein provides his list of likeliest 2012 GOP nominees.

Crist saving Florida gov't jobs

Florida's got a $2.3 billion deficit, but Gov. Charlie Crist announced today that he won't layoff state employees to save $.

“I would like to draw to your attention that none of these recommendations involve furloughs or layoffs... Our state employees provide an invaluable resource to all Floridians and should be commended for their continued service.”

To be fair to Crist, Florida hasn't been exactly profligate in awarding state jobs.

Crist and the Republican leadership of both chambers have said they hope to avoid major staff reductions, noting that Florida already ranks 50th in its ratio of state workers to population and cost of state personnel. Employees have not had a general pay raise in three budget years.

Should 2012 candidates shut up?

Writing for Pajamas Media, Jennifer Rubin begs ambition's patience.

For the 2012 presidential candidates, just pipe down. Go do your job if you have one or, if you don’t, be a constructive force to reform and revitalize the party. But no one really wants to see you lurking around coffee shops in New Hampshire or attending prayer breakfasts in Iowa. There is no such thing as “inevitability,” so save your money and frequent flyer miles until 2011.

Yes, but what good Republican doesn't wish Sarah Palin had done a few more national interviews before taking on the journalistic leviathan known as Katie Couric?

Powell aide: W just like Sarah Palin

Lawrence Wilkerson compares W. to Sarah Palin in "Oral History of the White House."

We had this confluence of characters--and I use that term very carefully--that included people like Powell, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, and so forth, which allowed one perception to be "the dream team."

It allowed everybody to believe that this Sarah Palin-like president--because, let's face it, that's what he was--was going to be protected by this national- security elite, tested in the cauldrons of fire.

Here's guessing that a "Sarah Palin-like president" means different things to different people. That's a postmodern observation.

Sanford standoff ends (kind of)

Charlotte Observer:

Gov. Mark Sanford on Wednesday announced he will request a federal loan of $146 million to pay the benefits though March. Without the request, the fund tapped for weekly payments of $14 million to some 77,000 residents would have run dry by the end of the day.

Sanford had refused to sign the loan request because of a long-running dispute with the state agency that handles unemployment. He had demanded an audit of the Employment Security Commission and asked for the agency to compile more detailed statistics.

The agency said only lawmakers could demand such an audit. Several have done so, and Sanford said Wednesday the agency also will be legally compelled to provide the extra data.(Emphasis added) To be continued.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Some advice for Pawlenty

Minnesota's bad and going-to-get-worse budget deficit is Tim Pawlenty's chief concern these days.

Some advice from Republicans: don't raise taxes.

“Our goal for this session, to be very blunt, is not to have the Legislature do anything to increase the cost of doing business here,” said Minnesota Chamber of Commerce President David Olson.

Don’t raise taxes, don’t do things that raise energy costs, don’t do things that raise health care costs — a lot of businesses are literally on the brink of survival,” he said.

(Emphasis added). Some advice from Democrats: raise taxes.

Assistant Senate Majority Leader Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud, also argues for a broad response to the deficit.

“We cannot cut our way out of this, tax our way out of this, gimmick our way out of this, cross our fingers out of this,” she said.

Looking to solve the state budget deficit through cuts alone would be to cut to the bone, Democrats argue.

(Emphasis added). Everything old is new again in the GOP vs. Dem divide.

Gingrich invokes Washington on religion

In his New Year's day message, Newt Gingrich summons the words of our first President to ask that we not stray too far from the fold.

In his Farewell Address, George Washington famously said that “reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

These are words to reflect on as we prepare to begin 2009. America is on the precipice of change -- politically and economically. How we will negotiate this change and what kind of nation will emerge will be greatly influenced by whether or not we take George Washington’s and Benjamin Rush’s words to heart.

Newt's frequent appeals to God in the public square - most recently manifest in his project on "Taking God Out Of Our History" - is spiritual bread for the social base and vital to Newt's revitalization.

After his rocky marriages and adulterous affair while conducting the Clinton/Lewinsky proceedings, it will be difficult for social conservatives to rest their hopes in retaining the "sanctity of marriage" with the former speaker. But Gingrich seems to have the Clintonian capacity of taking a weakness and turning it into a strength.

I lied to you, but at least I said I was sorry.

Okay! now that that's over, I've got this great, new idea about how to fix the world!

And guess what? The great, new idea sounds so great that you're suddenly believing the man who broke your heart five minutes ago. I suspect that if Gingrich really wants to run in 2012, he'll continue focusing on projects that are examples of his newly-ripe fruits of the spirit. That's not cynical. That's just politics.

Sarah Palin voted most desirable neighbor

According to a new poll by Harris Interactive:

Sarah Palin...
a) is a more desirable neighbor than all other polled celebrities such as Oprah, Tina Fey, Anderson Cooper, Brangelina et al.

b) if you're an adult male.

But not...
c) if you're an adult female. If you're an adult female, you'd rather have Oprah borrowing sugar than the spunky Gov. of Alaska.

This pic might explain why.

Drudge picks up Sanford story!

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's increasingly resilient stand against his state's unemployment agency has attracted Matt Drudge's attention, meaning his name will begin to draw attention beyond the conservative net roots.

If Sanford's new to you, let us introduce him with our official GOP 12 profile of the man.

Daniels adopting Sanford Model

Yesterday, we noted that (like Mark Sanford) Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is turning budgetary challenges into an opportunity to sift out inefficiencies and government waste.

In this case, that means Democratic resistance.

House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Crawford, D-Indianapolis, said the budget, not local government reform, needs to be the focus of this session.

(Emphasis added). Against which, Daniels delivers a Sanfordian polemic.

Daniels, though, insists this is the best time to rethink how government is organized, to find more efficient ways to deliver services.

"A, we can't afford to stop the change movement and, B, many of those changes are now more necessary than ever..... Challenges this big only make the change more urgent" he said.

It's a line Barack Obama will likely resort to should he fulfill any of his grand promises. Except in the cases of Daniels and Sanford, the change lies in the direction of shrinking government instead of injecting it with HGH.

Jindal's ethics reform - working or slowing?

On the one hand, Gov. Bobby Jindal's ethics legislation is slowing vital hearings down.

It’s been more than six months since there has been a hearing into alleged violations of Louisiana ethics laws, and there are still potential delays ahead.

The Louisiana Board of Ethics has turned over 18 cases to the state’s administrative law judge agency for scheduling of hearings, ethics deputy general counsel Kathleen Allen said.

On the other hand, these two paragraphs sound just about right, if reforming LA means anything to you.

Other law changes required thousands of government officials — both elected and appointed — to file personal financial disclosure reports, including Ethics Board members.

With the changes, Ethics Board members resigned en masse in late June along with the state’s ethics administrator — leaving ethics law enforcement at a standstill.

Sometimes, when you shake the rug, the cockroaches you didn't know were there come scurrying out. That can be scary, but the alternative is unthinkable.

All's well that ends well

Bristol Palin might get $300 k for the new baby pics.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Huckabee: "Chip should have been more careful"

Statement from Mike Huckabee on the Chip Saltsman Thing.

Hello Team Huck PAC-

Chip should have been more careful in his selection of Christmas gifts, but no one who knows him would ever suggest that he in any way would purposely disparage other people. Chip knows how sensitive such issues are. It shouldn’t be the main factor in the RNC race.

The election of Barack Obama is not only historic for our country but it is something all Americans, not just Democrats, should celebrate. As I have said many times the election of Mr. Obama is significant not because of his race or in spite of it, but with indifference to it.

He was not my choice for President, but he will be MY President over the next four years and I will support him personally and pray for his success. I will certainly disagree with him at times, but I pledge that my disagreements with him will be over his policy decisions and not aimed at him personally. I ask that all of you will join with me in doing that.

Romney and Ensign in 2012?

In her profile of rising Nevada Senator John Ensign, Erin McPike touches on the possibility of a 2012 pairing with Mitt Romney.

Some Democrats acknowledge that Ensign might be formidable as a vice presidential candidate, especially coupled with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, given Nevada's swing state status.

Ensign is clearly high on Romney... in an interview last month with Congress Daily, Ensign said Romney was 'keeping a high profile and he's keeping his options open... I like Mitt a lot.'

Can't emphasize Ensign's Nevada roots enough. Nate Silver recently suggested (and when Nate Silver suggests, it's pretty close to divine fiat) that the Mountain West is America's new swing region, with Nevada and New Mexico leaning Democrat.

In Nevada and New Mexico, new voter registration numbers were 5-7 times the losing 2004 presidential margins of 21,500 and 5,988 respectively. Obama won in Nevada by a hair under 120,000 votes and over 12%, and New Mexico by over 125,000 and over 15%. With the new voter registrations, those states can be considered blue until further notice.

Ensign's candor and political independence make him an attractive option, but Nevada's reputation as a swing state is in serious peril. The swelling surge of registration since 2004 has occurred in southern Nevada's Democratic strongholds, and the demographic changes underlying those changes favor the Dems.

Yet beyond sharing tans, Charlie Crist and John Ensign seem to be Republicans who thrive in diverse environments. The question is: Can Mitt Romney?

Charlie Crist scolds Saltsman

Via Florida's state party chairman, Jim Greer, and in doing so, positions himself as a leading figure for the kinder, gentler GOP. At least that's the way Ben Smith reads it.

Greer's statement:

As the GOP Chairman in one of our nation’s most ethnically and culturally diverse states, I am especially disappointed by the inappropriate words and actions we’ve seen over the past few days. I am proud of those party leaders who have stood up in firm opposition to this type of behavior.

In Florida we have worked hard to reach out to ALL citizens to promote the Republican Party’s principles and values while ensuring that our commitment to African Americans, Hispanics, and other minority communities is sincere and credible. Actions such as the distribution of this CD, regardless of intent, only serves to promote divisiveness and distracts us from our common goal of building our party.

Today, the GOP has an unprecedented opportunity to embrace change and inclusion, and we are either going to welcome this opportunity fully or watch it slip through our fingers. We can only achieve success if Republican leaders reject racial or any other acts that divide us and instead embrace what unites us as a nation

You can already hear the chants of "RINO, RINO, RINO" ringing through Charlie Crist's newly wed ears, however much to the contrary the evidence should lie. But once a RINO, always a RINO, in the minds of I KNOW'S. And to end on a final, tautological but important note, a party of inclusion will always out-perform a party of exclusion.

Daniels proposes new reforms for Indiana

Governor Mitch Daniels highlights Indiana's excessive bureaucracy, and proposes local government reforms.

E.G. Only 9 states in the US have more local units of government with the authority to level property taxes. And, in case you hadn't driven through the Hoosier State recently, Indiana is not the 10th biggest state in the nation.

That's what you call a discrepancy. And this is what you call a great chance for Daniels to employ his conservative credentials.

Politico says Huckabee scored one of year's biggest upsets

In Iowa.

By the time Iowans went to their caucus locations in January, it was clear that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was surging. After a series of strong debate performances and some offbeat advertising featuring martial arts expert Chuck Norris, buzz was building around the GOP longshot’s candidacy.

Huckabee wasn’t supposed to be able to compete with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s money and organization, yet he trounced Romney by nine points, changing the course of the Republican nominating contest and establishing the former preacher as a national player.

Politico also scores big for McCain's South Carolina primary win, claiming it was one of the biggest upsets.

Really? After he won the New Hampshire primary?

Newsweek dubs Sarah Palin a "Worst" of 2008

By using a dignity index to rate Governor Palin.

In a smear that sounds even worse in retrospect, Sarah Palin goes rogue and stirs up prejudice by accusing Barack Obama of "palling around with terrorists." Score: 66

Newsbusters has more of Newsweek's anti-Palin rants.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Romney named a "Money Loser for 2008"

Blogging Stocks recounts Mitt Romney's success at raising $, and failure at raising votes in the 2008 primary:

Winning the money race, strategically outspending other candidates on advertising in the early primary states, and promising to donate his salary as president to charity (as he had done as governor) wasn't enough to secure Romney the nomination. He dropped out of the race after disappointing Super Tuesday results in February 2008, when opponent John McCain solidified his position as the party's frontrunner. Romney won only 11 state primaries and caucuses, 4.7 million votes, and 291 delegates. According to Federal Election Commission filings, all told, the campaign spent $113.6 million, $44.6 of which came from Romney himself.

It's probably short-sighted to say Romney's money was all spent for naught: he's set himself up as a premier contender for the nomination in 2012. So that money wasn't just for '08 votes, it was also a down payment on 2012.

Of course, there's always that old "trying the same thing twice" definition of insanity......

Was Jindal profligate?

The AP faults Jindal's tax cuts and spending for Louisiana's current fiscal woes.

The income drops wouldn't have been nearly as catastrophic if lawmakers and the governors hadn't slashed taxes -- a surefire way to win political points -- without trimming state spending in anticipation of the revenue drops caused by those tax breaks. They banked on soaring oil prices to buoy the state treasury, but that was before those prices took a nose-dive.

(Emph added). That was Jindal's greatest error -- unrestrained optimism for a fundamentally volatile commodity. I don't think anyone foresaw oil prices falling so far, so fast, but ultimately, that's Jindal's job, particularly in a state so dependent on oil revenue.

Steve Monaghan:

"Even though it was generally understood that the cascade of cash would not last, billions of dollars worth of tax breaks and giveaways -- some seriously undermining prior efforts to diversify Louisiana's revenue base and to avoid an over-reliance on oil revenues -- were approved."

Again, the AP is trying to fault Jindal's tax breaks at each point in its story, but tax breaks and giveaways only hurt when spending isn't curbed, or when oil takes a Liberace-sized pounding up the ass. And gentlemen, what I think we had here was a Liberace-sized pounding up the ass when Jindal's eyes were turned.

Interesting to see how Jindal and Louisiana will respond.

[Hat tip: The Reduct Box]

Now Republicans attack Sanford for refusing bailout funds

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford won't go down without a fight in his bid to reform his state's unemployment agency.

As The State reported last week, Sanford is threatening to turn down a federal loan for state unemployment payments. Sanford wants tougher accountability and increased transparency in order to weed out fraudulent job claims before handing out any more $ in a tight economy.

And what price reform?

His own party is turning on him.

Three of South Carolina's leading Republican lawmakers slammed Gov. Mark Sanford on Monday for his reluctance to accept federal money that would keep unemployment benefits for the state's jobless from drying up at the end of the year.

Republican chairman of the State Senate Committee, Hugh Leatherman, has perhaps the most caustic warning:

"I've been in the Senate 28 years. Never have I seen a more heartless and cruel act by a governor... I call upon him to end this reign of emotional trauma and request the loans."

So for Sanford's efforts at reform, he's attacked by a leading member of his own party as "heartless", "cruel", and some kind of bipolar Nero for a "reign of emotional trauma".

Well. God bless the heartless, cruel, bipolar Nero.

[Hat tip: Race for 2012]

Will Palin run for Senate in 2010?

MSNBC discusses.

Democratic strategist Peter Fenn:

"Nationally, her time is over."

And listen to Pat Buchanan slam Sarah:

"She does have a problem in terms of her knowledge of the issues, her ability to cope with complex foreign policy subjects."

It's difficult to imagine a reason for a Palin Senate run. The conservative movement is now closely tied to GOP governors, and a 2-term governor is a more attractive Prez candidate than a one term governor/1/3 term Senator hybrid.

[Hat tip: The Moderate Voice]

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Face Off: Candidates split into two camps

In their analysis of GOP governors, Newsweek splits some Republican White House hopefuls along David Brooks' ever-useful "Traditionalist vs. Reformer" axis*.


Alaska Governor Sarah Palin
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour
South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford


Florida Governor Charlie Crist
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty

And who will win?

In the short term, the Traditionalists have a few major advantages: the donor networks, the think tanks and a Southern, conservative class of legislators in Washington, most of whom also believe that the path to power runs to the right of Bush. And no Republican candidate will win in 2012, or 2016, without energetic evangelical backing.

That said, the long-term trends don't bode well for any party hemorrhaging youth, minority and moderate support. For Republicans, a delicate balancing act—satisfy the right with your personal convictions; sway the center by actually solving problems—may represent the surest way out of the wilderness. Now it's up to the governors to get the job done.

*If you're not easily swept into new paradigms, it's perfectly fine if you just stick with "moderate Republican" and "conservative Republican".

Palin makes cover of Parade Magazine

Even though Barack Obama was elected President, it's Alaska Governor Sarah Palin who headlines this week's Parade Magazine "Best and Worst of 2008".

Accompanying her mug is possibly the most generic blurb possible, and offers little help in determining whether she was a best or worst. But then again, even infants have an opinion on Sarah Palin these days (admittedly, they're crass at best, and probably go no further than analyzing her capacity for milk production. Most word is good on this, as infants examine this work-safe photo approvingly).

Whether she was the best or the worst of the year is a matter of opinion. A few years ago, Governor Palin was mayor of tiny Wasilla, Alaska (pop. 7028). Her selection as John McCain’s Vice Presidential running mate appalled some and energized others. With her eye on 2012, Palin could become the future of the Republican Party—or just a blip on the national memory.

Huffington Post writer: "Jindal destined for stardom"

Liberal blogger Chris Weigant says it's all about Jindal.

He is young, he is a minority, and he is Republican. That alone guarantees that he will be seriously considered by the party as a GOP antidote to Barack Obama. Jindal recently said that he wasn't even interested in running in 2012, unless Obama royally screws up, but I would keep an eye on how many times he visits Iowa in the next few years, myself.

Republicans know they're getting killed demographically, as the party shrinks to a very white, very old base. They know they have to do something to reverse this trend. The only problem is they don't have a lot of minority officeholders to choose from. Which puts Bobby Jindal front and center. Barring a Louisiana-sized scandal, Jindal seems destined for political stardom in the near future.

Jindal has 30 days

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has 30 days to come up with a proposal on how to resolve Louisiana's $341 million budget deficit.

So expect to see a revealing list of cuts soon.

Politico's Top Ten Scoops

And two of them involve Sarah Palin.

Politico #1 Scoop: The Katie Couric/Sarah Palin Interviews.

Couric and Palin: Charlie Gibson scored the first Sarah Palin interview, now remembered mostly for the ABC anchor’s professorial manner and his question about the 6-year-old “Bush Doctrine” of military preemption, on which Palin effectively drew a blank. But rival anchor Katie Couric proved even tougher for the vice presidential candidate, who was unable to answer such simple questions as what newspapers and magazines she regularly read. Palin’s stumbling responses were spoofed verbatim by her comedic doppelganger, Tina Fey.

Politico #4 Scoop: Sarah Palin's Shopping Spree.

Palin’s shopping spree: Palin’s folksy public persona was put to the test when Politico’s Jeanne Cummings reported that the Republican National Committee had shelled out $150,000 to upgrade her and her family’s wardrobe. The campaign tried to brush off the Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus tabs by claiming the clothes would be given to charity after the campaign. But by that time, late-night talk show hosts and "Saturday Night Live" writers were already busy at work.

Whatever your undoubtedly passionate opinion about her, Sarah Palin's shopping spree was the bastard story of the year -- no legitimacy. The $ were so relatively small, the circumstances so perfectly understandable, the consequences so grandly minute that pimping this story was like pimping a rotating, electric fan.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Huckabee's man in trouble

Chip Saltsman, candidate for RNC and former campaign manager for Mike Huckabee, distributed a Christmas greeting to Republican committee members that included the Paul Shanklin song "Barack the Magic Negro".

The song was popularized when Rush Limbaugh's show picked it up, and although it's meant as a bit of irony, will probably end Saltsman's bid.

The Hill:

Saltsman said he meant nothing untoward by forwarding what amounts to a joke more at Ehrenstein’s expense than at Obama’s.

“Paul Shanklin is a long-time friend, and I think that RNC members have the good humor and good sense to recognize that his songs for the Rush Limbaugh show are light-hearted political parodies,” Saltsman said.

As noted before, Huckabee's endorsement of Saltsman's bid was an odd political play, considering conflict of interest concerns should Huck run in 2012. If this does indeed sink Saltsman (and a headline blaring post on Huffington might be enough to do it), then it's probably good for Huckabee.

Palin ignoring Bush's phone calls?

Washington Whispers:

He won't exactly say his feelings are hurt, but Whispers hears that former President George H.W. Bush is a bit miffed that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin hasn't returned his phone calls of congrats for a good effort in the presidential election.

Our source ran into the 41st prez recently at a Texas restaurant. When the subject of Palin came up during their chat, Bush told of twice phoning her office but never receiving a call back.

The first message was left at McCain HQ after she was picked to be Sen. John McCain's veep; the second with the governor's office after the election was over. He shrugged it off as staff error, but our source says he was clearly perplexed. A Palin aide says the guv didn't get the message, as odd as that sounds. "At this time, we are not aware of any attempts by President Bush to get in touch with the governor, but again, she would be honored to receive a call.

[Hat Tip: Think Progress]

Thune wins one for farmers

Farm Forum:

Sen. John Thune announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has agreed to use the 2007/2008 crop years for the new Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) Program, and that signup has begun for the 2009 Direct and Counter-cyclical Payment (DCP) program.

Initially, the 2006/2007 averages were to be used for ACRE -- which would have resulted in lower baseline prices for farmers.

And one important note: taxpayers don't lose in this exchange.

The letter also informed the Secretary that theCongressional Budget Office (CBO) used the higher 2007-2008 projected average price to determine the cost of ACRE in the 2008 Farm Bill.Therefore, implementing ACRE using the years Congress intended means the 2008 Farm Bill would be of no additional cost to taxpayers than whatwasdeterminedby CBO in its original Farm Bill baseline.

Farmers win, taxpayers win.

Wow. I actually just wrote that.

Weekly Intrade 2012

Friday.December 26.2008:

1. Mitt Romney 22.8

1. Bobby Jindal 22.8

3. Mike Huckabee 15.2

4. Tim Pawlenty 13.8

5. Sarah Palin 13.5

Crist promises to repay Chiles fund

Florida Governor Charlie Crist's state is saddled with a $2.3 billion deficit. To help plug that hole, he's suggesting borrowing $600 million from the state's Lawton Chiles Endowment -- an idea that's incensed the Chiles family, leading them to threaten suit.

But according to the Florida Capital News, Crist is standing firm, as he seeks to address the deficit without painful cuts or tax hikes.

Crist explained that he wanted to hold down program cuts and rely on borrowing and capital spending delays to spare the state's critical services as much as possible.

"That's very important to me, that we continue to protect the most vulnerable among us — particularly education and public safety as well," he said.

These times of massive budget deficits are testing Republican governors' commitment to fiscal discipline and free market principles. Each one is faced with the specter of massive budget deficits. How they respond will determine how primary voters respond in 2012. Some have already blinked (Huntsman and Daniels), while others have stood firm (Jindal and Sanford).

Who will be the Grand Torino?

Mitch Daniels: No pay raise for state employees (please?)

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has an idea for addressing that huge deficit.

Gov. Mitch Daniels is suggesting that all groups of public employees in Indiana consider voluntarily skipping any pay raise next year.

This is where you'd explain juxtapositioning the words "snowball", "chance", and "hell" to a Martian.

Palin more admired than Oprah

Gallup Poll, Dec 12-14.

Palin, McCain's 2008 vice presidential pick and the first woman ever to run on a Republican presidential ticket, makes a strong second place debut, named by 11% of Americans. Her entrance on the list crowds Oprah Winfrey out of second place, a position she held each year from 2002 through 2007.

Jeb out; Crist in?

Looks like Jeb's running for Senate in 2010. Which means President in 2012 is out. Which means Charlie Crist breathes a Mediterranean sigh of relief, and starts attracting major attention.

Huntsman: Away with the 5 day work week!

In August, Utah Governor Jon Huntsman introduced a measure compressing the work week to save on energy costs. And guess what? State employees love it.

The plan makes sense at another level, as well. More free time to shop, more $ circulating in the economy, more American Consumption Things happening.

Forbes writer: Romney will win nomination

Reihan Salam says Palin will induce the enthusiasm; Romney the votes.

Somehow, Barack Obama will tick off a large and important conservative constituency--it could be blunders in Afghanistan, it could be a sweeping environmental proposal that seems to punish energy-producing regions--and boom, you have a recipe for a Palin uprising.

In keeping with the Dean precedent, Palin will then raise a staggering sum of money, she will energize tens of thousands of conservatives, and, after a series of high-profile gaffes, she will be crushed at the last minute by slow but steady Mitt Romney, who will win the nomination and lose the general election.

[Hat tip: ConservativeAmerican]

Commentary: Is Jindal intellectually curious?

Right Wing Nut House says Bobby Jindal's not the GOP's answer:

Jindal may not believe in theories of Climate Change and wish to see ID/creationism taught in schools. Should this disqualify him from successfully running for president? Perhaps not. But it certainly portrays the Louisiana governor as someone without the intellectual curiosity that we in the GOP should have in our candidates. Believing in ID/creationism flies in the face of the facts. Do we really want a president who does that?

(Emph Added). So Jindal doesn't exhibit intellectual curiosity? Perhaps the Nut House lacks a curiosity of its own in failing to track down relevant facts.

a) Jindal graduated with honors in biology and public policy from Brown University, an Ivy League school.

b) As a Rhodes scholar, he received a master's degree in politics from Oxford University.

c) He worked as a consultant for Fortune 500 companies before entering the political arena.

d) At 25, he was appointed Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

All of these are oft-repeated accomplishments, and while you can disagree with his intellect's conclusions, you can't disagree with the force of his mind. Let's not mistake an Ivy league wunderkind for a pit bull with lipstick.

2009 Sarah Palin calendar hits it big

That 2009 Sarah Palin Calendar is now #3 in Office Products on Amazon.

Does this mark conservatism's renewal or its absolute nadir?

Of course there's always the third explanation. Red Rocket.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Jindal "the toast of Republican elites"

Jonathan Martin says that in a binary world, where the options are Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal, this thing isn't even close.

... the Louisiana governor became the undisputed hot ticket for the GOP’s circuit of Lincoln and Reagan Day party fundraisers, traditionally a testing ground for presidential aspirants. And unlike Sarah Palin, Jindal is also quickly becoming the toast of Republican elites, the class of elected officials, donors, and consultants who are much sought after well before the first primary votes are cast.

But some caution: there's that big budget deficit suddenly confronting him. Will his star fade as Louisiana's oil revenues falll?

And then there's the perception that he's too ambitious, a kind of Indian Hillary Clinton.

One recent cartoon in the capital’s newspaper, the Advocate, portrayed Jindal as saying he’d travel all over the country to convince people that he’s not running for president.

There's probably not much to this angle of attack, considering our current President's political trajectory, but it's enough to keep him actively engaged at not being actively engaged in.... oh, say Iowa politics.

Those around Jindal are also aware of the political danger of seeming overly ambitious.

Having made the post-election Iowa trip, a much-buzzed-about trek where he spoke to a packed banquet of social conservatives, Jindal won’t be going back anytime soon, according to those close to him.

As for those Reagan and Lincoln Day Dinner invites: “We’re saying no to almost all of them,” said an adviser.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas Message from Bobby Jindal

The Governor of Louisiana:

Dear Friends,

Supriya, the kids, and I want to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas. As families gather to celebrate the holidays, this is the time of year when we truly cherish what is important in our lives. Whether it’s the memory of your first Christmas tree or of mom’s Christmas ham, this is truly a special time of year.

So Merry Christmas from our family to yours, and I hope you have a safe and happy holiday weekend.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

A Christmas Message from Mike Huckabee

"Far better than a government bailout is a God bailout."

A Christmas Message from Charlie Crist

Florida Governor Charlie Crist on our Lord, our freedom, and our country:

Dear Friend,

As we spend this Christmas season with our loved ones, we can celebrate the wonders of life, as seen in the miraculous birth of our Lord. This is a time when we enjoy the blessings of friends and family as we look back upon the previous year and prepare for the year ahead.

This season, I urge you to remember the brave service men and women, including those in the Florida National Guard, who are fighting overseas that we may continue to enjoy our freedoms. As they fight so nobly to bring peace and liberty to other parts of the world, we pray for their safe return. In these challenging economic times, it is also important that we remember those who are less fortunate.

This is a time when we can show gratitude for our own blessings by giving to others. The miracles of this blessed season are best enjoyed by sharing with others, especially those in need. Carole and I hope that you will find ways to share Christmas with a needy family, senior citizen or veteran in their communities. By celebrating with one another the many blessings God has bestowed upon us, we can help make this season shine bright.

May God bless you and your friends and family during this blessed time of year.

DeMint fined for accepting illegal donations

I'm sure potential 2012 candidate Jim DeMint is into giving Christmas presents and all, but this probably isn't what he had in mind:

U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint’s campaign has agreed to pay $25,000 in fines for accepting donations that exceeded the legal limit when he was running for his seat in the 2004 elections, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Documents recently released from the federal agency show the South Carolina Republican’s campaign committee accepted 42 donations over the $2,000-per-person limit, totaling $68,106, in 2003 and 2004.

Sarah the Slayer

Gun-toting Palin jokes are getting tired, but Peter Brookes has a pretty nice seasonal entry in today's London Times.

[Hat tip: the indispensable Mike Allen]

Matthews Pummels Palin (yawn)

The Media Research Center awards the "Half-Baked Alaska Award for Pummeling Palin" to your future Senator from Pennsylvania.

Crist slashing budgets

Florida Governor Charlie Crist is addressing his state's $2.3 billion deficit the hard way: Cut like you're Sweeney Todd.

Among his proposals:

a) Reduce state spending by $561.5 million

b) Take $325.3 million from reserves

c) Tap $135 million in new gambling revenues from Seminole casinos

d) Issue $314 million in bonds for prison construction (Florida can fill 'em, don't worry)

And cut $ from community college operating expenses, $4.8 million from juvenile probation, $2.5 million on Highway Patrol vehicle replacements, and over $5 million from voluntary pre-K.

"Amen" on fucking with Pre-Kindergarten. Pre-K's the most useless idea since Kwame Brown.

Huntsman forages for stimulus money

Utah's Governor Jon Huntsman continues his appeal to the federal government for stimulus money.

"It's asking for whatever is available," Huntsman spokeswoman Lisa Roskelley said. "You can only do so much at a time, so we're providing the information to help [the new administration] understand."

So what does Huntsman want to do with your federal tax dollars?

a) State highways ($11.7 billion)

b) Rail and transit funding ($2.2 billion)

c) Drinking water revitalization ($42.2 million)

d) Clean water planning loans and grants ($385 k)

e) Flood control and water resources ($69.6 million)

f) Buildings (new courthouses etc.,) ($319 million)

g) Energy projects ($27 million)

Of his ambitious spending proposals, Huntsman says:

"These ventures would provide concrete stimulus to our economy, resulting in positive impacts to Utah families. This is a tremendous opportunity to fast-forward work on critical infrastructure projects and create a focus on Utah's effort to develop more [natural-gas] fueling sites throughout the state."

Howard Stephenson, president of the Utah Taxpayers Association, has a different take:

"Well, it's Christmas and Santa Claus is alive and well. He's living in Washington."

Newt Gingrich forms his empire

Politico on "Newt-World"

Currently, “Newt-world” consists of 64 staffers spread across Gingrich's varied ivory-tower billets: the American Enterprise Institute, where he’s a senior fellow; American Solutions, where he’s general chairman; the Center for Health Transformation, which he founded; and the eponymous Gingrich Communications.

In addition, Gingrich has an e-mail list of 1.1 million supporters, a weekly online newsletter read by 820,000 people and a contract with Fox News. He’s got 4,825 Facebook friends.

So is he running in '12?

“We’ll see. I’ll look at it in January 2011.”

I believe that's the time Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, Mitt Romney, and every other candidate will pull out the trusty exploratory committee. Which we all know is the "Will My Ass Get Fucked So Hard That It Will Permanently Destroy My National Ambitions or Just Gently Enough So I Might be Able to Score a Veep Slot Off it?" committee.

A Mike Huckabee Christmas

Received this email from Mike:

Just a year ago, we were in the midst of preparing for a surprising win in the Iowa caucuses. You may recall that a simple Christmas greeting that we placed instead of a typical political ad became one of the more controversial ads of the entire 2008 campaign. It featured my simply giving a Christmas greeting while seated in front of a Christmas tree. Someone decided that there was a “dangerous” subliminal message in the background in the form of what is now the infamous “floating cross." I couldn't think of anything more appropriate to send you than the Christmas greeting from last year.

If you are interested in the full story and background of the “floating cross,” I tell the behind the scenes story in my book, “Do the Right Thing,” which is now in its 4th week in the top 10 of the NY Times bestseller list.....

Janet and I want to thank you for your prayers, your faithful support of us and the many candidates that we supported through HuckPAC this year. I hope that you feel as I do that the efforts were worth it. I have no regrets other than wishing we had finished first!

I hope that you and your family will have a truly blessed Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

God bless and Merry Christmas!

Mike Huckabee

Yes, the controversy was absolutely unjustified. And yes, Huck's probably reminding us that blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And hopefully, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Human Events names Sarah Palin "Conservative of the Year"

Human Events runs an interview with Sarah Palin, and even though there's no audio, doesn't it seem like there is?

Sarah Palin (at various Sarah Palin moments):

I think the rest of the country, those who were concerned about checks and balances in Washington, D.C., were very excited about the opportunity for me to help out a little bit there. And we made sure we did have those checks and balances that came with his re-election. I was very thankful he was re-elected, and very thankful for my state of Alaska...

We learned a lesson, at least being amenable -- if not enthused -- to the idea all those weeks ago to the first rescue plan...

No, I don’t come from the self-proclaimed ‘movers and shakers’ group and that’s fine with me. It’s caused me, or rather, allowed me, to work harder and pulled myself up by my bootstraps without anyone else helping me. I think it allows me to be in touch with the vast majority of Americans who are in the same position that I am. That is desiring government to be on our side and not against us.

Milk it, Sarah! We know you've done it before!

Newt's writing about Christmas Night, 1776

Newt Gingrich talks about his incipient novel re: Washington's famed Christmas Crossing in 1776. It's one of those stories whose greatness you can easily become immune to.

There are at least two riveting accounts I'd recommend. One -- of course -- from Mr. David McCullough and a more thorough analysis from David Hackett Fischer.

It appears Newt's will be a work of historical fiction, a genre that's never floated my boat, but it's a story so iconic to America, and so riveting in its narrative that perhaps this is one that will be worthy of your bucks.

Now Palin is Margaret Thatcher

We've been charting the "Reagan/Palin" comparisons; now we've got another conservative deity shining in Constellation Palin.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, John O'Sullivan makes a remarkably good case against his case that Palin and Thatcher are the same female beast.

As a parliamentarian, Mrs. Thatcher needed forensic and debating skills which her training in Oxford politics and as a tax lawyer gave her. Mrs. Palin is a good speaker, but she needs to hone her debating tactics if she is to match those of the Iron Lady...

Like Mrs. Palin this year, Mrs. Thatcher knew there were serious gaps in her knowledge, especially of foreign affairs. She recruited experts who shared her general outlook......

Mrs. Palin has a long way to go to match this. Circumstances may never give her the chance to do so. Even if she gets that chance, she may lack Mrs. Thatcher's depths of courage, firmness and stamina -- we only ever know such things in retrospect.

But she has plenty of time, probably eight years, to analyze America's problems, recruit her own expert advice, and develop conservative solutions to them.

(Emph Added) So let's get this straight. Sarah Palin isn't near the speaker Maggie Thatcher was, isn't near the intellectual equal of the Iron Lady, and hasn't yet demonstrated "Mrs. Thatcher's depths of courage, firmness and stamina". And still, the two somehow "have a lot in common". Yeah, like (sexist joke) in common.

[Hat tip: Matt Lewis]

Friday, December 19, 2008

Jindal's headache

Louisiana: From bacchanalian orgy in oil to... being Louisiana again. And in a bit of not-very-subtle editorializing, the New York Times Adam Nossiter blames Governor Bobby Jindal's tax cuts.

Mr. Jindal called the tax break “terrific news” and happily signed it into law as legislators cheered.

Admonitions on fiscal prudence went unheeded, as they have so often here, and the bill is now due. Earlier this year there was an $865 million surplus; now Louisiana has a $341 million shortfall in its current-year budget, and next year the projected deficit is $2 billion.......

Mr. Jindal entered office this year with the happy duty of spending a $1 billion surplus — and he and the legislators promptly did so, appropriating millions of dollars for highways, ports and a medical research facility, and widely dispensing tax breaks, including one to parents of private school students.

Nossiter doesn't bother trying to empirically tease out what part of Louisiana's fiscal profligacy is most responsible for the current economic situation -- he only implies that "the Republican party's national pinup" is responsible.

[Hat tip: TimesWatch]

Sanford plays hardball

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford continues to use economic leverage to push for reforms.

Gov. Mark Sanford is threatening to not apply for a federal loan needed to make unemployment payments to 77,000 out-of-work South Carolinians unless the state’s employment agency agrees to reforms.

Sanford's demanding that the employment agency:

a) be audited
b) provide more data on unemployed South Carolinians
c) be held accountable

South Carolina's unemployment rate is 4th highest in the country, and Sanford wants to ensure fraudulent claims are being denied. Threatening to cut off funding will probably get someone's attention.

Hard times for Pawlenty's state

Minnesota is taking it up the ass:

State budget officials will release a two-year economic projection today that is expected to show Minnesota facing a deficit of anywhere from $4.5 billion to as much as $6 billion. At the upper end, the red ink would equal nearly 17 percent of the state's total budget.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty said that immediate shortfall will be "noteworthy" but will be dwarfed in size and scope by the two-year deficit projection. Budget officials have not publicly stated the amount, but Cohen and others say they are anticipating $5 billion.

"I would not be shocked to see $6 billion," Cohen said.

One more thing: Minnesota is constitutionally required to balance its budget. That stentorian scream you just heard was from an overpaid, underworked government employee just getting back from his three hour lunch break, only to realize his job sorting envelopes and playing Free Cell might be coming to an end.

Palin refuses pay raise

A state commission has recommended the Governor of Alaska's salary be raised from $125,000 to $150,000. Currently, Palin is the 24th lowest paid governor.

Spokesman Bill McAllister:

"Her view is, it's just not appropriate to accept a pay raise in the middle of the term."

It's unclear whether she'll accept the pay raise when her term ends, in 2010.

Parker slams Palin (again)

Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker is using Caroline Kennedy's bid for the U.S. Senate as fresh fodder for revisiting the Sarah Palin ordeal.

Critics on the other side of the political aisle may have had other reasons to oppose Palin (such as her pro-life position), but the loyal opposition was firmly based on substantive concerns about competence, as well as wariness about her tone and temperament, which became increasingly divisive. Palin's demonstrated lack of basic knowledge, her intellectual incuriosity, her inability to articulate ideas or even simple thoughts all combined to create an impression of not-quite-there.

(Emph added) Looks like Parker's gearing up for 2012. But so is Sarah Palin -- with that brand, new calendar!!

Romney delivers Republican stimulus plan

In a new piece for National Review, former Massachussetts Governor Mitt Romney urges Republicans and our President to act now on a GOP stimulus plan.

The highlights:

1) Incorporate tax cuts. No taxes on interest, dividends, or capital gains for middle-income families.

2) Spend money on infrastructure. This should go primarily into modernizing and refurbishing military equipment. Spending significant $ on national infrustructure such as bridges and roads will take too long to stimulate the economy.

3) Increase funding of alternative energies.

4) States should excise inefficient agencies. The economic hard times provide a perfect excuse for long over-due government reform.

5) Reform entitlement spending to lower risk of inflation.

6) Regulate the financial sector, but in an effort to cure past ills, don't become so burdensome that we regulate to death.

Obviously, Mitt's Rx's are a far cry from what's possible in the current political climate. But it does offer Republicans an ideological roadmap for the way forward.

It's essentially the same plan he offered last Sunday on Meet The Press.

Sanford is to bailout as Obama is to war?

Amanda Carpenter muses:

We were sort of wondering outloud if Mark Sanford's speeches/letters against the bailouts will be like Barack Obama's 2002 anti-war speech. Obama's original opposition to the war launched his presidential bid. Maybe Sanford's bailout opposition could do the same for him in 2012. We will surely be suffering from the repercussions of all this madness by then.

Governor Sanford certainly has been something of a Jeremiah. But I don't think Jeremiah ever became king.

CBS, Fox Reporters to write new Palin book

Scott F. Conroy of CBS News:

“Shushannah Walshe (who you'll remember as the Fox embed who covered Romney and Palin with me) and I are excited to report that we've been offered a book deal with PublicAffairs, which we accepted [yesterday].

The working title is ‘Sarah From Alaska.’ While we're obviously going to use our experiences on the trail to report a lot of new information on how the Palin campaign was run, the book is also going to be forward-looking.

There's a long list of unsuccessful VP nominees who've faded into obscurity, but what we think is so interesting about Palin is that even in defeat, she was able to win the hearts of the GOP base, and love her or hate her, she'll be back on the national scene.”

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Jindal's Medicaid reform gets through committee

Ark-LA-Tex Politics:

Gov. Bobby Jindal's hallmark proposal to revamp Louisiana's Medicaid program passed its first legislative test Thursday, with a procedural vote in a joint meeting of the House and Senate health care committees.Lawmakers, without objection, agreed to let the Jindal administration begin formal negotiations with federal officials on allowing Louisiana to restructure its Medicaid program, which is funded with state and federal money.

What its supporters and critics think:

Supporters say the plan, called Louisiana Health First, would better coordinate care for Medicaid recipients, catch chronic diseases earlier and help rein in rising costs. Critics say administrative costs would eat into dollars that should be used for patient services and the plan would leave Medicaid recipients vulnerable to for-profit companies that could limit their benefits and restrict care.

And a more thorough analysis by The American Spectator:

McCain Pollster: Palin has leg up in Iowa

So says former McCain Campaign pollster, Bill McInturff.

“She’s a candidate that would be well-suited to doing well in Iowa. [She elicits] a sharply different reaction with swing voters and core primary voters... she has a very strong political instinct. She has a sharp and calculated instinct."

Huckabee mourns Weyrich, (plugs book??)

The former Governor of Arkansas' statement on the passing of Paul Weyrich:

“I have learned today of the death of one of America’s truly great political minds, Paul Weyrich. He was not a household name to most Americans, but inside conservative circles, his name was a name of wisdom, authority, and true conviction. I first met him in 1979 when I was working as communications director for a large Texas based Christian ministry. Paul was one of the first leaders to realize the untapped potential of values voters, and his influence was instrumental in the launching of Jerry Falwell’s “Moral Majority,” Pat Robertson’s “Christian Coalition,” and other faith based movements. Paul was a deeply devout Christian gentleman who had clarity in his convictions. He was both an intellectual as well as a political tactician who understood that all the great ideas in the world were worthless if they weren’t put into motion through actual public policy. He was fearless and spoke the truth to power regardless. I spent hours listening to and being mentored by his speeches that I heard on cassette tape in the late 70’s and early 80’s while driving to speaking engagements and events. His influence on me was chronicled in my book, “Do the Right Thing,” and he was mentioned on the book jacket. All true conservatives mourn the passing of this truly great leader.

Our prayers go forth to his dear family.

(Emph added) No doubt Huck's sincere, but did he have to mention his fresh-off-the-presses book?

Huntsman a friend to Utah's liquor industry

In the state of Utah, one industry is (perhaps understandably) weathering the recession well.


Liquor sales are up 6%, and Governor John Huntsman, Jr. is eager for the state Legislature to keep spirits high and the dollars rolling.

Chief on the list is a proposal by Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. to eliminate the private club rule (that requires a membership fee from every patron of a business whose primary purpose is serving drinks, also known as a bar).

Jindal, Palin face similar challenges

Before running for President, they must deal with the vicissitudes of budgeting in states that depend on oil revenue. And oil, in case you hadn't noticed, is volatile.

We reported on Palin's budget yesterday; now time for Jindal's.

Sam Hanna
on Louisiana's grim forecast:

Though we've been told for years the state treasury is not as dependent as it once was on severance taxes generated by the oil and gas industry, the fact remains the state is very much dependent on robust activity in the oil patch. For every $1 drop in the price of a barrel of oil, the state can say goodbye to some $10 million in tax revenues. A few months ago, oil was trading for $140 per barrel, give or take a few dollars. It stands at roughly $45 per barrel today. Do the math.

This year, Jindal faces a $341 million dollar deficit. The forecast for fiscal year '09-10? A $2 billion dollar deficit. And to make Jindal's challenge even steeper, 2/3 of the budget is mandated by the state Constitution; therefore the Governor has only 1/3 to mess with.

Governors are earning their keep.

Palin's Cuban Missile Crisis

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin signed a letter intervened with federal customs authorities to get 18 winter flights from Japan to Fairbanks back on schedule.

The tourism is worth $4 million to the Fairbanks' economy.

Jillian Simpson, with the Alaska Travel Industry Association:

"It's obviously extremely important to winter tourism in Alaska and the Interior... it was critical that the landing rights were secured."

[Hat tip: Race for 2012]

Claim: Time Mag picked Palin for sales

The LA Times Andrew Malcolm on Time Mag's person of the year runner-up.

Time, like all print, online and broadcast media, knows the magnetic draw of merely mentioning Sarah Palin's name among fans and foes. Putting Sarah Palin's name in a headline and adding Sarah Palin photographs draws thousands of people, even if they haven't a clue about her politics. Sarah Palin is simply great for the media business. The more photos the better too.

[Hat tip: Red State]

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pawlenty fights $426 million deficit

The Star-Tribune reports that Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty will focus on retaining military and veterans' programs, public safety, and K-12 education, when he unveils his new budget Friday.

Oh, and on the state Rainy Day Fund Tab, your latest scorecard: Huntsman, Jr. and now Pawlenty have dipped in; Jindal still refuses to tap funds.

Just a little something to measure fiscal demeanor.

Thune wants $2 billion for SD Indian tribes


Sen. John Thune and 21 other senators have sent a letter to President-elect Barack Obama asking him to support financial aid for tribal health, law enforcement and water projects.

Breakdown of how the $2 billion would be spent:

1) Water projects on reservations nationwide ($1 billion)

2) Public safety on reservations ($750 million)

3) Indian health centers and sanitation facilities ($250 million)

The pro-life blog Voices Carry approves:

Those who profit from abortion can be frequently heard in South Dakota talking about the rape problem on the rez and how it is therefore absolutely essential that these poor women have increased access to "abortion care."

I'm with Thune… let's go after the rapists and not execute a capital punishment on an innocent child for the crime of their father.

Cantor: cigarette tax an "assault on jobs"

Virginia Congressman and rising Republican star, Eric Cantor, slammed his Governor's proposed 30 cent tax increase on cigarettes in Virginia.

"This proposed tax is an assault on jobs in Virginia, plain and simple, and is an attack on our economy. At a time like this, when families all over Virginia are struggling to make ends meet, the last thing Virginians need is more job losses and more tax increases."

For his part, Democrat Governor Tim Kaine can point to a $2.9 billion shortfall in revenues as support for his plan. Currently, Virginia has the 3rd lowest cigarette tax in the nation, and the tax hike would produce an additional $150 million/year.

And don't worry. Addicts will keep coming back. Those addicted to smokes and money.

Sanford STILL refusing bailout money

The Associated Press:

At a time when other states are clamoring for cash, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is saying no thanks.

The newly minted head of the Republican Governors Association is carving out an identity as the anti-bailout governor, speaking against calls for more money from Washington for new state public works spending, lifesaving dollars for the auto industry and even stimulus checks.......

It's not that South Carolina is doing better than most states: The state's unemployment rate hit 8 percent in October, a 25-year-high and the fourth-highest in the nation. Economists project it will worsen substantially next year. Currently, South Carolina is paying out more than $14 million a week in benefits. But Sanford is even balking, at least for now, at asking for a federal loan for his state's unemployment benefits, which otherwise will run out of money at the end of the year.

As we've noted, Governor Huntsman is banking on stimulus $ for Utah's budget, and Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana proudly displays an op-ed on his website titled: "Indiana pressing for fair share of stimulus money".

Not Sanford. And it's hurting his popularity with South Carolinians who think he's neglecting them.

Workers don't understand why the state isn't jumping to take the money. Altray Reed, 41, of Columbia, said her job as a cafeteria worker is taking a three-week leave for the holidays, and she needs the unemployment to pay the bills.

"I don't feel he should wait. We're depending on that unemployment," she said.

Sgt. Michael Jones, 61, of Columbia, said he was discharged from the Army about eight months ago and is running out of savings. Unable to find work, he was applying for unemployment benefits.

"I think it is a game. They're the ones not hurting," he said. "The little people are suffering."

Politically-speaking, could the guy be too damned principled for his own good?

Huckabee: "All the bailouts are ridiculous"

From a book signing at Barnes & Noble.

Drama in Salt Lake: Huntsman, Jr. digs in

Yesterday, Utah legislators again requested that Governor Huntsman call a special session to address budget problems, but the Governor isn't backing down, claiming that he isn't required to stop spending until the state runs out of money.

The issue? The Legislature wants to make much deeper cuts in spending than the Governor, who may be stalling in hopes of a federal stimulus bailout.

What Huntsman is willing to cut:

[Huntsman] already has required state agencies to curb spending, demanding 1.5 percent reductions, while protecting public schools and using part of the $414 million Rainy Day Fund and pulling money out of road projects to make up the rest of the difference.

What the Legislature wants to cut:

The Legislature wants to go much further, seeking five times as much from state agencies, including public education, and plans to make those cuts as soon as they can.

Huntsman appears to be holding out for a federal stimulus package which could send billions to the state for various programs.

Interesting to note that another governor and potential 2012 candidate, Mark Sanford, is begging the government to stop throwing bailout cash at his state, while Huntsman is banking on a massive stimulus package to meet shortfalls.

Also, contrast Huntsman's dip into his state's Rainy Day Fund, while another potential 2012 candidate and governor, Bobby Jindal, refuses to raid his state's fund.

“We are not considering use of the Rainy Day Fund to address the deficit this year, as it will not help us with the deficit next year. We are looking to reduce expenditures in every area of government - not only in the discretionary general fund, but non-discretionary spending and statutory dedications also. Everything is on the table."

Palin sets her house in order

Sarah Palin has just released a budget proposal for fiscal year 2010.

The budget..... proposes to spend less than the amount of revenue projected for the next fiscal year..... Based on the fall revenue forecast, the Governor’s proposed spending level in FY2010 will result in a surplus of $388.7 million. These funds would flow into the constitutional budget reserve at the end of the fiscal year.

Things get tricky because oil revenue plays such a huge role in Alaska's economy, but oil revenue is... well, it's oil, right? So it's volatile. And how do you reflect volatility in your budget?

Here's your money number, from the Governor herself.

“We were conservative in developing our budget and targeted a lower revenue number based on $71 per barrel."

If the price of oil is dramatically higher, then you'll see a higher budget surplus, which means higher approval ratings for the Governor, which means a record to run on.

More bad news for Barbour's state

Yesterday, we talked about the lawsuits. Now Toyota's delaying plans to build the Prius in Mississippi.

Toyota’s plant under construction in Blue Springs was scheduled to begin production in 2010, marking the first time the gas-electric Prius, which has been on sale for more than a decade, would be built outside of Japan and China.

But Mike Goss, a spokesman for Toyota’s U.S. arm, said Monday that despite investing $300 million in the plant so far, the automaker is delaying production there indefinitely because of the industrywide downturn.

The Governor's response:

“While we definitely are disappointed (and) wish it wasn’t happening, we understand that these companies like Toyota have to operate in the private marketplace and have to do so successfully."

The Big Catfight

In offering "Person of the Year" runner-up to Sarah Palin, Time says it was, ultimately, two women who took her down.

But in the end, the critical showdowns occurred between Palin and two other working moms going about their jobs, who four years ago would have been in no position to wreak such havoc: Katie Couric, whose cool questions yielded scalding footage; and Tina Fey, whose most lethal SNL skits didn't always bother to rewrite Palin's statements but merely repeated them.

And suggests that, yeah, maybe things did get a little sexist out there on the campaign trail, and yeah, maybe that was exploited a bit.

Neither woman could resist playing the victim of the mean male media — though a poll after the election found that nearly two-thirds of women felt Palin got more bad press because of her gender, which is twice as many as thought Clinton was unfairly treated.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Did Barbour divert $600 million for commercial port expansion?

So claims a new suit from the Mississippi Conference of the NAACP, and the Gulf Coast Fair Housing Center:

[they] are taking HUD to task for allowing Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour to divert almost $600 million in money slated for the construction of moderately priced housing and rental units for a commercial port expansion project.

At stake is a portion of the $5.481 billion Congress approved for Mississippi after Hurricanes Rita and Katrina.

Fifty percent of the money was slated for 50 low- and moderate-income housing, but the suit claims HUD ultimately approved waivers of the requirement to the point where Barbour and the Mississippi Development Authority was allowed to drop the state’s commitment to lower-income households from 50 percent to 13 percent, despite median households catching the brunt of the storm.

No response yet from HUD, due to pending litigation status, and no response from Governor Haley Barbour.

However, yesterday -- in a case of serendipitous timing -- Barbour announced new affordable housing assistance.

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour announced that 267 police and fire personnel, teachers and other public-sector employees, including Necaise, have been qualified for $40,000 each in affordable housing assistance funds through the Gulf Coast Renaissance Corporation’s revolutionary REACH Mississippi program’s scholarship fund.

And the Governor's press release includes this not-so-ambiguous non-response, response to the charges that not enough federal assistance $ has gone where intended.

The matching federal funding comes in part from a comprehensive $5.4 billion HUD Community Development Block Grant package that was approved by Congress in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Almost $4 billion has been dedicated by Governor Barbour to housing programs, including a $350 million workforce housing initiative being administered by the Mississippi Development Authority. Since the funding package was approved, nearly $2 billion has been disbursed for housing assistance in the three coastal counties.

Tough road: Jindal forced to make deep cuts

Ark-LA-Tex Politics:

Louisiana's public colleges and health care programs for the poor, elderly and disabled are expected to take the lion's share of cuts to balance this year's budget.

The state faces a $341 million deficit in the current budget year that ends June 30. The state is constitutionally required to maintain a balanced budget, so Gov. Bobby Jindal and lawmakers must make cuts to close the deficit.

The Legislature's joint budget committee is expected to formally recognize the deficit on Friday. After that, Jindal can cut a portion of state spending on his own, but that won't cover the full amount. He'll need approval from the budget committee to slash spending for the rest of the gap.

Huntsman reluctant to cut spending

Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. and his Republican legislature are squabbling over the new state budget.

Utah's House and Senate both endorsed a 15% cut in next year's budget, while Huntsman only wants a 7% cut. Huntsman's counting on a federal stimulus package to help address any shortfall, while the legislature says the state shouldn't bank on that luxury.

Speaker-elect Dave Clark:

"We're here today looking at a $1 billion reduction in what we spend in the state. This is an unprecedented time. We don't have a historic benchmark to try to figure out billion-dollar-plus cuts in the State of Utah."

Huntsman's trying to protect education and human services from significant cuts, and Glen Warchol says this thing's going to be a test of Huntsman's leadership. (Interesting to read the comments section -- Huntsman's been labeled a RINO by some folks. He endorsed McCain, is trying to preserve education, and is balking at cutting spending. Yup, that'll do the trick in some parts).