Romney takes the wrong side in the Utah Senate race

As you probably know, FreedomWorks and other grassroots organizations have been targeting Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in his bid for re-election. While FreedomWorks hasn’t formally endorsed a candidate in the race (others running include State Sen. Dan Liljenquist, a tea party favorite), they did recently come out with a web ad slamming Hatch for voting for $7.5 trillion — half the size of the national debt — during his time in Washington.

But Mitt Romney, who is the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for president, has jumped in the middle of the Senate race in Utah by endorsing Hatch and cutting a minute long ad where he claims that the state can “count on Sen. Orrin Hatch in the fight to lower taxes, to balance the budget and to repeal the federal government takeover of health care”:

Obama’s approval drops as gas prices jump

We’ve noted over the last few days that rising gas price could pose a problem for President Barack Obama, whose energy policy has left a lot to be desired. This was emphasized by a recent poll from Gallup showing that 65% of Americans held Obama partly responsible for higher gas prices.

But a new Washington Post/ABC News poll showing that Obama’s approval ratings have gone down as gas has gone up, further driving home the vulnerability on the issue:

Disapproval of President Obama’s handling of the economy is heading higher — alongside gasoline prices — as a record number of Americans now give the president “strongly” negative reviews on the 2012 presidential campaign’s most important issue, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Increasingly pessimistic views of Obama’s performance on the economy — and on the federal budget deficit — come despite a steadily brightening employment picture and other signs of economic improvement, and they highlight the political sensitivity of rising gas prices.
Gas prices are a main culprit: Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they disapprove of the way the president is handling the situation at the pump, where rising prices have already hit hard. Just 26 percent approve of his work on the issue, his lowest rating in the poll. Most Americans say higher prices are already taking a toll on family finances, and nearly half say they think that prices will continue to rise, and stay high.

Impeaching Obama? Impeach Congress

If you live inside the beltway, you may have heard that Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) has put forward a bill that would make any instance of the executive using the military without going through Congress an impeachable offense:

In a House Resolution introduced last week, Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-NC) put forward use of the military by the executive branch without explicit authorization from Congress as an impeachable offense: one which some conservatives believe President Barack Obama has already committed.

The bill’s author, Rep. Jones, was once a Democrat who switched parties before seeking congressional office in the 90s. He endorsed former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) for president in 2008, and has been one of the Republican Party’s loudest critics of the presidency’s warmaking powers.

“When you talk about war, political parties don’t matter,” he told The New York Times last year.

While not directly calling for impeachment, the bill would declare “that it is the sense of Congress that, except in response to an actual or imminent attack against the territory of the United States, the use of offensive military force by a president without prior and clear authorization of an act of Congress violates Congress’s exclusive power to declare war… and therefore constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution.”

In other words, the bill would, in effect, serve as a trigger mechanism for impeachment proceedings.

It’s going to be a close one tonight in Alabama and Mississippi

Coming off of a good Super Tuesday, Mitt Romney hopes to further entrench himself at the frontrunner for the Republican nomination tonight as Alabama and Mississippi voters head to the polls to cast their ballots. But various surveys in these two Southern states show that it’ll be a close race, one that has Romney running right along Rick Santorum in Newt Gingrich.

Santorum had a good weekend, picking up an overwhelming win in Kansas, while Romney won Wyoming and some United States territories. For Gingrich, however, tonight’s primaries are a “must win” if he hopes to avoid more calls to drop out of the race. And the latest polls out of Alabama and Mississippi certainly do show the former Speaker hanging with the rest of the field.

Here are the final numbers out of the two states, provided by Public Policy Polling. As noted above, it’s going to go down to the wire in Alabama:

  • Mitt Romney: 31%
  • Newt Gingrich: 30%
  • Rick Santotrum: 29%
  • Ron Paul: 8%

And Gingrich holds a small lead in Mississippi, though within the margin of error, over Romney with Santorum six back:

Occupy Wall Street almost out of money

Don’t look now, but Occupy Wall Street’s 15 minutes of fame isn’t just fading quickly. The Associated Press reports that they’re also low on money:

A finance report shows the group that galvanized the nationwide movement against economic inequality six months ago had about $45,000 left in its main account.

That’s for the week of March 2. Weekly donations plummeted to about $1,600.

The report on the group’s General Assembly website says at “the current rate of expenditure” the Occupiers will be “out of money in THREE WEEKS.”

Yeah, this is me not caring. Don’t get me wrong. They had a couple of legitimate points in their message, such as the TARP bailout being a bad deal for taxpayers and criticism of the government. But their solutions to were terrible because they would’ve place further reliance on the government and would have used force to take more from taxpayers through taxation.

The grievances that Occupy Wall Street put forward certainly do deserve a spot in the marketplace of ideas in the public discussion, but I reject them almost entirely. But my personal experiences with them make me, on the whole, take them much less seriously.

Pat Robertson: Marijuana should be treated like alcohol

Pat Robertson, the televangelist and host of The 700 Club, made waves last week when he said that marijuana should be legalized and treated like alcohol and also expressed his support for ballot measures in states that would decriminalize its usage:

[Robertson] first became a self-proclaimed “hero of the hippie culture” in 2010 when he called for ending mandatory prison sentences for marijuana possession convictions.

“I just think it’s shocking how many of these young people wind up in prison and they get turned into hardcore criminals because they had a possession of a very small amount of a controlled substance,” Robertson said on his show March 1. “The whole thing is crazy. We’ve said, ‘Well, we’re conservatives, we’re tough on crime.’ That’s baloney.”
“I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol,” Robertson was quoted by the newspaper as saying. “If people can go into a liquor store and buy a bottle of alcohol and drink it at home legally, then why do we say that the use of this other substance is somehow criminal?”

Robertson said he “absolutely” supports ballot measures in Colorado and Washington state that would allow people older than 21 to possess a small amount of marijuana and allow for commercial pot sales. Both measures, if passed by voters, would place the states at odds with federal law, which bans marijuana use of all kinds.

Another polls shows high gas prices could hurt Obama

On Friday, I noted that polls indicated that Americans are growed incresingly concerned with high gas prices, which may influence their votes, at the same time President Barack Obama lobbied Congress to kill the Keystone XL pipeline. This fact is highlighted by a new survey from Gallup that shows that his do-nothing approach to gas prices may be a factor in the fall:

Concern over the price of fuel has taken on an increasingly important role in the campaign cycle, and a new poll shows 65 percent of Americans hold President Obama and Congress responsible for rising gas prices.

A majority of both Republicans and Democrats said they believe Obama and Congress can “do things to keep price of gas from rising,” according to a new poll by Gallup.
Thirty-one percent surveyed said they believe the rising price of gas is “largely beyond their control.” But 85 percent of those surveyed pushed for Obama and Congress to take some immediate action to control the rising price of gas, indicating a high level of concern.

President Obama has paid lip-service on the rising cost of gas, but he’ll no doubt target oil companies as the villian, much like many of his fellow Democrats want to do with their so-called “Reasonable Profits Board.” He’ll likely target their tax breaks once again, though those tax breaks aren’t at all significant, and want to give more money for alternative energy sources that already receive substantial breaks.

Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to subsidize contraceptives

The blow-up over contraceptives has really hurt Republicans, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have a point when it comes to whether or not taxpayers should foot the bill for them. Jacob Sullum, who is no social conservative, weighs the arguments that Sandra Fluke and others have put forward about the cost of birth control:

Although Fluke chose to attend a Jesuit university knowing that its student health plan did not cover contraceptives, she believes it is unfair that she has to live with the consequences of that decision. “We refuse to pick between a quality education and our health,” she said, “and we resent that, in the 21st century, anyone thinks it’s acceptable to ask us to make this choice simply because we are women.”

Is the GOP really becoming more libertarian?

A few weeks ago, Conn Carroll, responding at the Washington Examiner to a list of flip-flops charged by Ezra Klein, noted that the reason for the shift increasing libertarian influence among Republicans:

Some Republicans used to like Keynesian stimulus, now they don’t. Libertarians never did. Some Republicans used to like individual mandates, now they don’t. Libertarians never did. Some Republicans used to like cap and trade, now they don’t. Libertarians never did. You get the idea. There is a reason Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., has been speaking so highly of Ron Paul.
The fact is, Americans are just becoming more libertarian. Republican leaders are only responding to those changing beliefs. That may be frustrating for a policy wonk who wants to see as much power transferred to Washington, D.C., as possible, but the American people just have a diametrically opposed view of which direction the country should be going.

Over at FreedomWorks, Dean Clancy expounds on Carroll’s points, noting that Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), whose limited government and constitutional views, are among the reasons for the shift in thinking:

To borrow a memorable phrase from the tumultuous ’60s, you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. Despite the greatly exaggerated reports of the “death of the tea party,” the political wind is undeniably blowing against more bailouts and debt, and toward smaller, constitutionally limited government. If the tea party is “dead,” it’s because tea party ideas have taken over the GOP.

A closer look at February jobs numbers

The jobs numbers for February were certainly good news. In case you missed it, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, while the unemployment rate held steady at 8.3%, businesses created some 227,000 jobs last month.

Given that a Gallup survey released before the BLS numbers were made available showed unemployment at 9.1%, many are wondering why there is such a discrepancy. Over at the Washington Examiner, Tim Carney explains:

Both Gallup and the BLS use randomized surveys to produce estimates of the current state of the labor market. Gallup calls 30,000 people every month over the span of the entire month. BLS conducts 60,000 interviews a month (both face-to-face and over the phone), but conducts them all in one week. More importantly, however, the BLS uses a model to smooth their raw numbers out to account for seasonal swings in the labor market. Gallup does not.
[E]very January the U.S. economy sheds more than million a jobs as retailers let people go after the Christmas shopping season. There is another smaller drop off in the summer as kids leave their summer jobs and return to school.
The BLS does include a seasonally adjusted unemployment number in each report. For February it is 8.7 percent, which is still below Gallup’s 9.1 percent number. Why?

Every month reporters usually mention two numbers from the BLS: the number of jobs created/lost and the unemployment rate. Most people assume that the unemployment rate is a function of the jobs number. It’s not. The BLS creates both numbers from completely different surveys.

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