Latest Iowa Poll Shows Rickmentum

The Des Moines Register published a poll tonight showing Mitt Romney at 24%, Ron Paul at 22%, and Rick Santorum at 15%.

An interesting note — in the last two days the poll was conducted, Thursday and Friday, Santorum was at 21% and in second place.  Rickmentum.

If I were Rick, I’d be offering Michele Bachmann something to drop out now — Secretary of Health and Human Services, Supreme Court.  She’s definitely not going to be the Republican nominee, and she’s in danger of losing her House seat.

I think Michele is hoping Mitt will choose her for Veep, she’s always batting her false eyelashes at him during debates.  Ain’t gonna happen.  It would be one baby step up from choosing Sarah Palin.

The Super PACmen Are Gobbling Up Our Campaign Finance Laws

With the rise of the Super PACs as virtual parallel campaign structures, the $2500 individual contribution limit in presidential campaigns has become meaningless.

Look at Mitt Romney’s Super PAC, Restore Our Future [the name makes no sense, btw], which has raised about $30 million this year, and not from people going online to give $25 or $50.  They got $1 million from a former Bain executive, Edward Conard, and another $1 million from J. W. Marriott, Jr., fellow Mormon and chairman of the eponymous hotel chain.  The $2500 limit was designed to make such contributions, and the influence they would buy, impossible.

As for the PACs being forbidden to coordinate with the campaigns, they don’t have to because they know exactly what the candidate wants and needs from them.  In Mitt’s case his official campaign runs positive ads, while the PAC runs all the negative ones.  The fundraiser for Romney’s PAC, Steve Roche, just months ago was the chief finance guy at the official campaign.  The PAC is filled with other former campaign people, like the political director from the 2008 campaign, Carl Forti, and the former chief counsel, Charles Spies, as well as ad maker Larry McCarthy, who did the Willie Horton ad against Michael Dukakis.*

Mitt keeps saying that President Obama is ruining this country.  No, the million-dollar contributions are.

*See “PAC Ads Rip at Gingrich As Romney Stands Clear,” by Nicholas Confessore and Jim Rutenberg, NYT

I Think Newt’s Crying Was Planned

I posted previously about Newt Gingrich’s crying at an event with Iowa moms as he recalled his own mother.  I just want to add that I think it was pre-planned and staged.  I wasn’t sure initially, but then I read that the questioning that prompted the crying came from Frank “Evil Genius” Luntz, not from an audience member.  Luntz has worked with Newt for a long time — he wrote the Contract with America in 1994.  He and Newtie would have been on the same page about how the event would unfold.

I think they saw it as a way to help Newt with women, given his treatment of his first two wives and his much-younger third wife, Callista the Platinum Helmeted.

Tuesday night, I think Newtie will be crying for real.

I think Hillary’s crying in New Hampshire last cycle was spontaneous.

The Perry Post-Mortem

Rick Perry hasn’t lost the Iowa Caucuses yet, but his campaign is already in its post-mortem, finger-pointing phase.  From Politico‘s story, “Perry campaign plays blame game,” by Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman:

“Their explanations for the nosedive come against the backdrop of a campaign riven by an intense, behind-the-scenes power struggle that took place largely between a group of the governor’s longtime advisers and a new cadre of consultants brought on this fall.  In the end, the outsiders won out — and ever since have marginalized Perry’s longtime chief strategist while crafting a new strategy in which the Texan has portrayed himself as a political outsider and culture warrior.

“[S]ources close to the campaign depict a dysfunctional operation that might be beyond saving because of what they describe as the political equivalent of malpractice by the previous regime.

“‘There has never been a more ineptly orchestrated, just unbelievably subpar campaign for president…than this one,’ said a senior Perry adviser.

“Yet the view of the outsiders who took over Perry’s campaign is that the candidate was set up for failure by an insular group led by Dave Carney, the governor’s longtime political guru, which thought they could run a presidential campaign like a larger version of a gubernatorial race….

“In a blistering indictment, sources…describe a new team that was stunned to arrive in October and find a campaign that wasn’t executing the most rudimentary elements of a modern presidential campaign:  no polling or focus groups, no opposition research book on their own candidate to prepare for attacks and debate prep sessions that were barely worth the name.

“‘I’ve never seen anything like this,’ said a strategist.  ‘At least not at this level for this serious of a candidate.  … But for a governor from one of the biggest states…who can raise a ton of money?  It’s mind-boggling.  I’m more offended by that than losing.'”

 

Mr. President, Please Listen to Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman has an excellent column, “Keynes Was Right,” up at the NYT about the wrong-headed “austerity” approach both we and the Europeans have been taking in response to the economic meltdown.  Some excerpts:

“‘The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity at the Treasury.’  So declared John Maynard Keynes in 1937, even as F.D.R. was about to prove him right by trying to balance the budget too soon, sending the United State economy — which had been steadily recovering up to that point — into a severe recession.

“Unfortunately, in late 2010 and early 2011, politicians and policy makers in much of the Western world believed that they knew better, that we should focus on deficits, not jobs….

“In declaring Keynesian economics vindicated I am, of course, at odds with conventional wisdom.  … [T]he failure of the Obama stimulus package to produce an employment boom is generally seen as having proved that government spending can’t create jobs.  But those of us who did the math realized…that the [stimulus]was much too small given the depth of the slump.

“So the real test of  Keynesian economics hasn’t come from the half-hearted efforts of the U. S. federal government…which were largely offset by cuts at the state and local levels.  It has instead, come from European nations like Greece and Ireland that had to impose savage fiscal austerity as a condition for receiving emergency loans — and have suffered Depression-level economic slumps….

“In March 2011, the Republican staff of Congress’s Join Economic Committee released a report … [that] ridiculed concerns that cutting spending in a slump would worsen that slump, arguing that spending cuts would improve consumer and business confidence and that this might well lead to faster, not slower, growth.

“The bottom line is that 2011 was a year in which our political elite obsessed over short-term deficits that aren’t actually a problem and in the process, made the real problem — a depressed economy and mass unemployment — worse.”

Krugman gets to the wrongheadness of GOP economic policy, both in Congress and among the presidential contenders.  They keep saying people aren’t spending and businesses aren’t hiring because of a lack of “confidence,” but the truth is that people spend when they have money in their pockets and aren’t worried about losing their homes or jobs, and businesses hire when they see actual demand for their goods and services.  The economic collapse forced families to cut back their spending.  Having local, state, and federal governments cut back at the same time is just a disaster.   Only government can make up for the lost demand in the private sector.  Laying off teachers and police and firefighters is exactly the wrong way to go, as is trying to deny people food stamps and unemployment insurance.

The Republican report Krugman cites talks about “expansionary austerity.”  Now there’s an oxymoron for you, and anyone who believes in it is truly a moron.