Republicans fear rough primary could cost them the House and the Senate

From The Hill:

Republicans are worried the long, drawn-out presidential primary could cost them the House and the Senate.

For months, Republicans had been bullish about their prospects for widening their margin in the House and picking off Democratic senators. But some are now questioning whether they could be done in if Mitt Romney limps out of the primary a severely weakened nominee.

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Photo courtesy of Rob Crawley, flickr

Super PACs Outspent Candidates in Run-Up to Tuesday

From WSJ:

In the two weeks leading up to Super Tuesday, outside political action committees supporting the Republican presidential hopefuls spent three times as much as the candidates themselves, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the latest sign of how these new “super PACs” are transforming electioneering.

The super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich spent $770,000 on his behalf in Ohio while his campaign barely spent any money on TV there.

Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich spent a combined $2.4 million on television ads during the last two weeks in Ohio, Oklahoma, Georgia and Tennessee, the contests with the most delegates Tuesday, according to a review of spending on TV commercials.

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RFK Jr. channels Limbaugh, calls GOP senator ‘prostitute’

From Daily Caller:

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental crusader who got his start in the movement performing community service after a heroin conviction, thrust himself into a the evolving story about Rush Limbaugh and Sandra Fluke on Tuesday, calling Republican Sen. James Inhofe a “prostitute” and a “call girl.”

Days after Limbaugh’s on-air apology for his own transgression, the New York-based green activist and son of the late Sen. Bobby Kennedy upped the ante on Twitter.

“Speaking of prostitutes, big oil’s top call girl Sen Inhofe wants to kill fuel economy backed by automakers, small biz, enviros, & consumers,” he tweeted.

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Super Tuesday results map

From The Hill:

All 10 states voting on Super Tuesday award their delegates proportionally, which means a second-place finish nets some delegates.

The big prize will be in Ohio, where a Mitt Romney victory could be a knockout blow to the rest of the GOP field. Besides the delegates who are up for grabs in the Buckeye State, a Romney win would rob Rick Santorum of the argument that he’s better suited to connect with Rust Belt voters.

Recent polls of the state show the race is a statistical tie. Santorum held a double-digit lead in late February, but Romney has gained ground.

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Stockton Faces Pending Insolvency and an Unraveling Social Fabric

Where’s a good Occupy protest when you need one? Those scraggly protesters are making mischief on behalf of “the 99 percent” in Oakland, and they’re raging against university tuition increases in San DiegoLos Angeles, and Santa Cruz. Yet as a municipal crisis unfolds in one of California’s former boomtowns, “Occupy Stockton” is nowhere to be found. If the movement cared about ordinary people as much as it claims, it would have plenty to keep it busy in Stockton, where the greed and shortsightedness of the public sector have sent a relatively poor city careening toward insolvency and unraveled its social fabric.

Because California’s municipalities have squandered so much of their budgets on government workers and retired employees, they haven’t been able to provide the essential services that justify government’s existence. Stockton is a case in point. Bob Deis, who took over as city manager in 2009, told reporters recently that the city’s finances resembled a Ponzi scheme. He had never seen the kind of unaffordable health plan that Stockton employees receive: complete medical care for the employee and spouse for life, available after only a month on the job. “Employee costs are weighing down the city in the wake of a recessionary slump in revenues,” City Journal’s Steve Malanga observedlast week. “Stockton has spent the last two years trying to reduce its budget to avoid insolvency. The city has cut about a quarter of its police, but rich pension and health benefit deals still make it difficult for the city to pay its bills. . . . Employee costs make up 81 percent of the city’s general fund spending.”

Stockton has taken out pension-obligation bonds and followed other California cities in squandering tens of millions of tax dollars on redevelopment projects—in its case, a new minor-league baseball stadium and a waterfront entertainment project—that it hopes will bring an urban renewal. Yet downtown Stockton, despite its beautiful old buildings dating to the Gold Rush era, is largely a ghost town. An ineffective government, which can’t control crime or even keep the streets clean, is the main source of the problem.

Stockton is the first city to operate under a new California law designed to put the brakes on bankruptcy. Under the law, the city will stop paying some of its debts and is heading toward a 90-day mediation process, now a requirement before seeking Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. The state legislature passed the new law at the urging of public-employee unions after Vallejo declared bankruptcy in 2008. Unions feared that California municipalities would use bankruptcy protection to abrogate their labor contracts. Both Vallejo and Stockton are suffering under crime waves as police staffing is reduced, but public safety officials share the blame for the city’s budget disaster. Their salaries and defined-benefit retirements still allow them to retire with 90 percent or more of their final year’s pay. Stockton has lost more than 41 police officers over the past three years. But the city participates in the generous “3 percent at 50” retirement benefit, a formula that allows public safety workers to retire at age 50 with 3 percent of their final year’s salary multiplied by the number of years on the job. Vallejo made headlines for providing a $300,000 compensation package to a police captain. Stockton has double the number of $100,000-plus retirees found in similar-sized cities.

Only a few years ago, Stockton was thriving. Long-distance commuters who couldn’t afford the Bay Area’s sky-high housing prices crossed the Altamont Pass into the Central Valley. Housing prices soared throughout the region. Like most inland California cities, Stockton lacks coastal glamor. But it’s a decent working-class city with historic homes, leafy neighborhoods, a fine private university with an ivy-covered campus (University of the Pacific), and modern suburbs, though it did have its run-down neighborhoods.

Today, though, the city is starting to epitomize the “broken windows” problem that City Journal readers understand so well. Residents share a widespread sense that the city doesn’t respond to problems or do a good job handling basic services. I own two rental houses in Stockton, which I purchased as foreclosures after they lost about 75 percent of their value from the market peak. Overgrown trees entangled with utility wires stand in front of one of my houses. It’s the city’s legal responsibility to provide maintenance for such things, but officials told me they have no plans—let alone a budget—to do so. I see shopping carts abandoned in neighborhoods and trash-strewn parks. When my houses were vacant, preventing break-ins by homeless squatters and copper-pipe thieves was a constant struggle. I like Stockton—its neighborhoods, its climate, its terrain (on the edge of the magnificent California Delta), and its proximity to the big cities across the coastal ranges—but the civic disorder takes a heavy toll.

When private firms don’t provide good services, consumers have choices. When city governments fail to perform adequately because they have squandered their budgets, residents are left waiting, hoping, and eventually moving. As an elected supervisor in another beleaguered California county once opined: “County government is becoming a pension provider that provides government services on the side.” That’s true practically everywhere in the once Golden State. In Stockton, the results are plain to see.

(Steven Greenhut is vice president of journalism at the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. Originally posted on City Journal.)

Students Protest Education Entitlement Cuts

Middle-aged, greying 1960s radicals, pimply faced kids, teachers, throngs of SEIU members, angry Occupy protestors, and union members of all kinds descended upon the state Capitol Monday. They demanded, “Wall Street and the wealthy 1 percent, pay to refund education, jobs, essential services, and a better future.”

The protest was sponsored by the California Teachers Association and the Occupy movement.

The protest even included roving bands of gang-attired youth probably not connected to education, dreadlock-wearing Rastafarians, earth children and the unmistakable sweet smell of marijuana wafting about.

Vapid stares, body odor, anger and an abundant use of the “F” word, some attended the rally with an express purpose in mind, while others appeared less committed and just were there for the chanting and day off of school.

“Enough is enough,” came the rally cry from college student body presidents. “We stand in solidarity,” said one speaker as Che Guevara signs waived wildly.

Shortly into the protest, it became clear that the rally really was about passing Gov. Jerry Brown’s $7 billion tax-increase ballot initiative, and the attendees were just human props.

Brown’s tax increase proposal, if approved, will:

  • Increase the state income tax levied on annual earnings over $250,000 for five years.
  • Increase the state’s sales and use tax by half a cent for four years.
  • Allocate 89 percent of these temporary tax revenues to K-12 schools and 11 percent to community colleges.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, spoke to the thousands of protestors and outlined his goals:

  1. Removing “Republican obstructionists” who were able last year to block the majority vote preventing passage of Brown’s state budget, which included tax increases. They blocked the tax increases even after voters passed Proposition 25 in 2010, a measure that allowed a majority vote of the Legislature instead of the previous two-thirds vote requirement in favor of the budget. Democrats were unable to get the budget passed without Republican help in 2011 because of the tax increases within it.
  2. “Chant in November to pass the revenue measure,” Steinberg said.
  3. Steinberg asked students to support Assembly Speaker John Perez’sAB 1500 and AB 1501 “to end tax loopholes for billionaires,” thereby funding a “two-thirds savings” on college tuition for middle class students. There was no talk about the more than 50 percent of California college students who already do not pay for school at the state’s public colleges and universities, or the dropout rate of 50 percent of first-year college students.
  4. Affordable textbooks. This is where Steinberg and I will mostly agree, since the college textbook scam has a long and profitable history for the professor-authors. “A statistics textbook should not cost $240,” Steinberg said. And to end this high cost,  Steinberg said that he has introduced  SB 1052 and SB 1053, which are supposed to address this problem. Steinberg said that textbooks should cost $20 or less.

But the bills would add provisions to the Donahoe Higher Education Act to establish a new California Open Education Resources Council of nine members, including three faculty members from each of the public postsecondary segments, selected by the respective faculty senates of each segment. It’s just another state commission, but this one is for the CTA.

Signs were everywhere demanding a free education:


A large group was wearing t-shirts that read, ”Education is the key — give us the key to set us free.”

And, of course, the purple-shirted State Employees International Unionmembers were en masse. I even saw SEIU jackets on tough-looking guys.

What’s a Protest Without Police Action?

There was a minor dust-up between police and a bicyclist, when police asked the guy to not ride through the crowd. Predictably, he yelled at police, demanding rights and insisting that it wasn’t illegal to ride a bike at the Capitol. I had seen this guy earlier with a group of militant bicyclists, identified with matching t-shirts. They weren’t there for the education rally.

It got interesting when a loudmouth guy with a bullhorn started calling the police names. “Get those animals off those horses,” the bullhorn guy and his group screamed at the mounted police.

When another police officer asked him to stop yelling obscenities, he didn’t react well. “You’re protecting the people who f*****d us over,” he screamed, obviously a little tightly wound.

While there were many police officers present, they were mostly in the background or on the periphery of the Capitol. It was protestors, like the bullhorn guy, who went out of their way to goad the police.

Bullhorn fellow tried to gin up his group by bringing up the Occupy Oakland protests. Instead of engaging, some of his group walked away. “Five hundred years of oppression, and look where it’s got us,” said a black protestor who had been hanging out with bullhorn guy’s group.

As noon neared, most of the students left the Capitol and filled up local restaurants. Protest leaders remained, and headed into the Capitol for meetings.

(Katy Grimes is CalWatchdog’s news reporter. Grimes is a longtime political analyst, writer and journalist. This article was first posted on CalWatchdog.)

Super Tuesday: Romney wins votes but no consensus, no broad support

Super Tuesday’s slew of presidential primary elections and state caucuses underscored a recurring challenge for GOP presidential nomination frontrunner Mitt Romney – his inability to clinch broad-based support within his own party.

Rick Santorum continues as the fly in the ointment for the Romney camp. The former Pennsylvania senator, for lack of a better option, has become the anti-Romney, to the chagrin of the former Massachusetts governor and many others concerned with nominating someone capable of defeating President Barack Obama.

Romney secured expected victories in Massachusetts, Vermont, Idaho and Virginia, though Rep. Ron Paul gave Romney a challenge in Virginia, where they were the only two on the ballot. Santorum won in Tennessee, Oklahoma and, unexpectedly, in North Dakota, a state Romney carried in the 2008 GOP race. Newt Gingrich won a decisive victory in his home state, Georgia.

Even the night’s biggest story, Romney’s paper-thin victory over Santorum in the battleground state of Ohio, offered more evidence of the weakness of the Republican field. Romney is not connecting with far too many voters, and the strongest alternative is a former senator with a lackluster message, little political cash to spend and such a disorganized campaign his name didn’t even appear on the ballot in Virginia.

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Food Stamp Fraud EXPOSED

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El Cajon councilwoman quits after FBI raid

From SD Union-Tribune:

El Cajon Councilwoman Jillian Hanson-Cox resigned Wednesday, just days after the FBI raided the home of the longtime community activist and prominent hometown figure.

Catching residents and City Hall officials by surprise, the two-term councilwoman submitted a one-page letter saying she was stepping down immediately.

“Recent events have given rise to a burden and demands on my time that would possibly detract from the time necessary to continue my commitment to the city and my constituents,” she wrote.

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More Free Birth Control?

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