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Posts For: June 26, 2011

Christie Weighs in on Current GOP Field

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told NBC’s David Gregory this morning the Republican presidential nominee would have to be “sedated” if he or she tapped Christie for vice president. But even if the governor isn’t on the ticket, it’s clear he’ll play an oversized role in the 2012 race. Christie has been listed as one of the “top ten” most coveted political endorsements for Republican candidates, and he’s increasing his value even more by releasing national political ads and taking a trip to Iowa in July.

But while Christie weighed in on the 2012 field on Meet the Press this morning, he gave no indication he’s interested in supporting any of the current candidates.

“Listen, I’m under no legal obligation to [endorse anyone],” Christie told Meet the Press host David Gregory. “I’m not a ‘halfway’ kind of guy. So if in fact I feel really strongly about someone, that that person would be the best president of the United States, then I’m going to get out there and go full force for that person. If I don’t feel that way, I won’t.”

And so far, Christie doesn’t sound bowled over by anyone in the field. When Gregory asked whether he thought Rep. Michele Bachmann was a “viable candidate,” Christie ducked the question saying, “I think she’s a person who’s serious about what she believes in.”

“I don’t know her all that well. I only know what I’ve seen on TV, and that sometimes isn’t the most reliable in the world,” he said.

Christie didn’t comment specifically on any of the other candidates, but he gave some advice to the current field.  “I think what the American people want more than anything else right now is someone who’s going to look them in the eye and tell them the truth, even if it’s some truth that they don’t like,” he said. “But they have to believe the person’s speaking from their heart and are authentic. And I think that’s what allows you to do the big things, like we are in New Jersey.”

Candidates would be smart to follow Christie’s advice, and in the end an endorsement from the governor would likely give a major boost to the recipient. Not only does Christie have substantial credibility with both grassroots and establishment conservatives, he also has the ear of some of the top donors and activists in Iowa.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told NBC’s David Gregory this morning the Republican presidential nominee would have to be “sedated” if he or she tapped Christie for vice president. But even if the governor isn’t on the ticket, it’s clear he’ll play an oversized role in the 2012 race. Christie has been listed as one of the “top ten” most coveted political endorsements for Republican candidates, and he’s increasing his value even more by releasing national political ads and taking a trip to Iowa in July.

But while Christie weighed in on the 2012 field on Meet the Press this morning, he gave no indication he’s interested in supporting any of the current candidates.

“Listen, I’m under no legal obligation to [endorse anyone],” Christie told Meet the Press host David Gregory. “I’m not a ‘halfway’ kind of guy. So if in fact I feel really strongly about someone, that that person would be the best president of the United States, then I’m going to get out there and go full force for that person. If I don’t feel that way, I won’t.”

And so far, Christie doesn’t sound bowled over by anyone in the field. When Gregory asked whether he thought Rep. Michele Bachmann was a “viable candidate,” Christie ducked the question saying, “I think she’s a person who’s serious about what she believes in.”

“I don’t know her all that well. I only know what I’ve seen on TV, and that sometimes isn’t the most reliable in the world,” he said.

Christie didn’t comment specifically on any of the other candidates, but he gave some advice to the current field.  “I think what the American people want more than anything else right now is someone who’s going to look them in the eye and tell them the truth, even if it’s some truth that they don’t like,” he said. “But they have to believe the person’s speaking from their heart and are authentic. And I think that’s what allows you to do the big things, like we are in New Jersey.”

Candidates would be smart to follow Christie’s advice, and in the end an endorsement from the governor would likely give a major boost to the recipient. Not only does Christie have substantial credibility with both grassroots and establishment conservatives, he also has the ear of some of the top donors and activists in Iowa.

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The Do-Something Son of the Do-Nothing Father

On Friday night, the New York State legislature passed a bill legalizing same sex marriage, and Governor Andrew Cuomo signed it immediately into law. New York is thus the sixth state–and by far the largest–to permit same sex marriage, and the third to do so by legislation rather than judicial fiat when a few judges noticed previously undiscovered fundamental rights lurking in the umbras and penumbras of state constitutions. (The District of Columbia also established gay marriage by legislation. So did the state of Maine, but that act was overturned by referendum.)

As the New York Times details this morning, it took a lot of savvy and artful maneuver on the part of the Cuomo administration to get this bill through the Legislature.  And this isn’t the only major accomplishment of Governor Cuomo in the first six months of his administration. He also got a bill through limiting annual property tax increases to two percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. New York State’s property taxes are the highest in the country, but the enormously influential teachers unions fought the bill tooth and nail. And the state passed a notably austere budget on time that actually cut spending.

What a remarkable contrast with the Governor’s father, Mario Cuomo, who was governor of New York for 12 years (1983-1995) and in that time did nothing, absolutely nothing, in any way to disturb the status quo of crony government, phony accounting, and continuing economic decline of the once mighty Empire State. Don’t believe me? Here’s the Wikipedia article  on Mario Cuomo. It lists his accomplishments as governor. But I’ll save you the trouble, here’s the list:  He gave the keynote address at the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco.

New York State has had some notable governors. Four later became president (Van Buren, Cleveland, Theodore and Franklin  Roosevelt) and four came very close to being president (Samuel Tilden, Charles Evans Hughes, Al Smith and Thomas E. Dewey). Two became chief  justice, three vice president. Of course, there were a few losers. New York impeached one governor (William Sulzer, in 1913) and, back in colonial times, hanged another (Jacob Leisler, in 1691). There’s no doubt in which category Mario Cuomo belongs. At the moment, his son seems to be aiming at joining the other.

On Friday night, the New York State legislature passed a bill legalizing same sex marriage, and Governor Andrew Cuomo signed it immediately into law. New York is thus the sixth state–and by far the largest–to permit same sex marriage, and the third to do so by legislation rather than judicial fiat when a few judges noticed previously undiscovered fundamental rights lurking in the umbras and penumbras of state constitutions. (The District of Columbia also established gay marriage by legislation. So did the state of Maine, but that act was overturned by referendum.)

As the New York Times details this morning, it took a lot of savvy and artful maneuver on the part of the Cuomo administration to get this bill through the Legislature.  And this isn’t the only major accomplishment of Governor Cuomo in the first six months of his administration. He also got a bill through limiting annual property tax increases to two percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. New York State’s property taxes are the highest in the country, but the enormously influential teachers unions fought the bill tooth and nail. And the state passed a notably austere budget on time that actually cut spending.

What a remarkable contrast with the Governor’s father, Mario Cuomo, who was governor of New York for 12 years (1983-1995) and in that time did nothing, absolutely nothing, in any way to disturb the status quo of crony government, phony accounting, and continuing economic decline of the once mighty Empire State. Don’t believe me? Here’s the Wikipedia article  on Mario Cuomo. It lists his accomplishments as governor. But I’ll save you the trouble, here’s the list:  He gave the keynote address at the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco.

New York State has had some notable governors. Four later became president (Van Buren, Cleveland, Theodore and Franklin  Roosevelt) and four came very close to being president (Samuel Tilden, Charles Evans Hughes, Al Smith and Thomas E. Dewey). Two became chief  justice, three vice president. Of course, there were a few losers. New York impeached one governor (William Sulzer, in 1913) and, back in colonial times, hanged another (Jacob Leisler, in 1691). There’s no doubt in which category Mario Cuomo belongs. At the moment, his son seems to be aiming at joining the other.

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Pawlenty’s Iowa Gap

Tim Pawlenty’s poor showing in the Des Moines Register poll this weekend is bad news for his campaign in more ways than one. Not only is Pawlenty lagging in the Iowa polls despite his intense campaigning in the state, but there also seems to be a troubling gap between the candidate’s favorability rating and his political support base.

Mitt Romney placed first in the poll at 23 percent, with Rep. Michele Bachmann following closely behind at 22 percent. Pawlenty finished all the way in sixth place – behind Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul – at just six percent. This is despite the fact Pawlenty has visited the state more than 20 times, and recently launched the first (though modestly-budgeted) TV ad campaign of the primaries there.

Pawlenty has been a regular presence in Iowa since launching his candidacy, which has made him the target of political attacks in the state. But that alone can’t explain his poor showing in the poll, because for the most part Iowans have a good impression of Pawlenty. He was found to have a 45-point favorability rating in the state, which is second only to Bachmann.

The message seems to be this: Iowans know Pawlenty, they like Pawlenty, they just don’t want to support him for president (at least at the moment).

But the problem is Pawlenty needs Iowa to propel him to the nomination more than the other top candidates do. Romney isn’t expected to devote much energy to the state, and Bachmann already has a strong following there. If Gingrich, Paul or Cain – or any of the other long-shot candidates – are able to maintain a lead over Pawlenty in Iowa, then it is hard to see how he would be able to secure the nomination.

Tim Pawlenty’s poor showing in the Des Moines Register poll this weekend is bad news for his campaign in more ways than one. Not only is Pawlenty lagging in the Iowa polls despite his intense campaigning in the state, but there also seems to be a troubling gap between the candidate’s favorability rating and his political support base.

Mitt Romney placed first in the poll at 23 percent, with Rep. Michele Bachmann following closely behind at 22 percent. Pawlenty finished all the way in sixth place – behind Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul – at just six percent. This is despite the fact Pawlenty has visited the state more than 20 times, and recently launched the first (though modestly-budgeted) TV ad campaign of the primaries there.

Pawlenty has been a regular presence in Iowa since launching his candidacy, which has made him the target of political attacks in the state. But that alone can’t explain his poor showing in the poll, because for the most part Iowans have a good impression of Pawlenty. He was found to have a 45-point favorability rating in the state, which is second only to Bachmann.

The message seems to be this: Iowans know Pawlenty, they like Pawlenty, they just don’t want to support him for president (at least at the moment).

But the problem is Pawlenty needs Iowa to propel him to the nomination more than the other top candidates do. Romney isn’t expected to devote much energy to the state, and Bachmann already has a strong following there. If Gingrich, Paul or Cain – or any of the other long-shot candidates – are able to maintain a lead over Pawlenty in Iowa, then it is hard to see how he would be able to secure the nomination.

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As the Freedom Flotilla Readies to Set Sail this Week…

Here’s the latest news on the human rights catastrophe in Gaza, via the New York Times:

Two luxury hotels are opening in Gaza this month. Thousands of new cars are plying the roads. A second shopping mall — with escalators imported from Israel — will open next month. Hundreds of homes and two dozen schools are about to go up. A Hamas-run farm where Jewish settlements once stood is producing enough fruit that Israeli imports are tapering off.

Huh. Well that almost makes it sound like this “humanitarian aid” flotilla is completely unnecessary. Though, according to the Times, if the flotilla activists really want to bring much-needed supplies to the anguished people of Gaza, they might want to try stocking their ships with BMWs:

Another result of the regional changes is the many new cars here. Israel allows in 20 a week, but that does not meet the need. Hundreds of BMWs, pickup trucks and other vehicles have arrived in recent months from Libya, driven through Egypt and sold via the unmonitored tunnels. Dozens of white Kia Sportage models, ubiquitous on the street, are widely thought to have come from the same dealership in Benghazi, Libya, that was looted after the uprising there began.

Forget Alice Walker’s letters of solidarity. What these people really want are luxury sports utility vehicles.

Here’s the latest news on the human rights catastrophe in Gaza, via the New York Times:

Two luxury hotels are opening in Gaza this month. Thousands of new cars are plying the roads. A second shopping mall — with escalators imported from Israel — will open next month. Hundreds of homes and two dozen schools are about to go up. A Hamas-run farm where Jewish settlements once stood is producing enough fruit that Israeli imports are tapering off.

Huh. Well that almost makes it sound like this “humanitarian aid” flotilla is completely unnecessary. Though, according to the Times, if the flotilla activists really want to bring much-needed supplies to the anguished people of Gaza, they might want to try stocking their ships with BMWs:

Another result of the regional changes is the many new cars here. Israel allows in 20 a week, but that does not meet the need. Hundreds of BMWs, pickup trucks and other vehicles have arrived in recent months from Libya, driven through Egypt and sold via the unmonitored tunnels. Dozens of white Kia Sportage models, ubiquitous on the street, are widely thought to have come from the same dealership in Benghazi, Libya, that was looted after the uprising there began.

Forget Alice Walker’s letters of solidarity. What these people really want are luxury sports utility vehicles.

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Save Gaza? No, Save Turkey, Egypt, Bulgaria and Brazil

Last year, George Will famously noted the irony that Turkey was sponsoring the Gaza Flotilla at a time when Gazans enjoyed higher life expectancy and had better health than Turks. Seizing upon his observation, as this year’s convoy prepares to sail from Turkey and ports in Europe, I decided to check the statistics this year. The point is not to argue Gaza’s diplomatic situation is good, but to pretend there is a humanitarian tragedy under way in Gaza is simply counter to reality.

Below, according to the CIA’s World Factbook, are all the countries and territories with a lower life expectancy than the Gaza Strip, which today enjoys a life expectancy of nearly 74 years, well above the world average of 67.  Gazans born today can look forward to a longer life than those born in:

Malaysia, Thailand, Bulgaria, Seychelles, Jamaica, El Salvador, Estonia, Armenia, Montserrat, Grenada, Latvia, Egypt, Brazil, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Peru, Samoa, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Palaua, Marshall Islands, Philippines, Micronesia, Trinidad and Tobago, Moldova, Indonesia, Fiji, Belarus, Bahamas, Greenland, Guatemala, Cape Verde, Honduras, Iraq, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh, North Korea, Ukraine, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Belize, East Timor, Bolivia, Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Guyana, India, Russia, Papua New Guinea, Nepal, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Nauru, Burman, Tubalu, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Comoros, Yemen, Madagascar, Gambia, Sao Tome and Principe, Togo, Cambodia, Eritrea, Laos, Equatorial Guinea, Haiti, Djibouti, Mauritania, Western Sahara, Ghana, Benin, Senegal, Kenya, Burundi, Guinea, Bostwana, Rwanda, Liberia, the Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Niger, Uganda, Tanzania, Mali, Gabon, Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Lesotho, Somalia, Central African Republic, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Guinea-Bissau, Swaziland, Chad, Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Angola.

As for infant mortality, here are the countries with a higher rate than Gaza, a territory which again falls well below the world average of 41.61 deaths per 1,000 live births:

Angola, Afghanistan, Niger, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Chad, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Republic of the Congo, Liberia, The Gambia, Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia, Ivory Coast, Rwanda, Pakistan, Swaziland, Comoros, Uganda, Burundi, Benin, Guinea, Cameroon, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Laos, Senegal, Cambodia, Yemen, Lesotho, Djibouti, Haiti, Sao Tome and Principe, Kenya, Togo, Madagascar, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Gabon, Burma, Ghana, India, Vanuatu, Namibia, Nepal, Bhutan, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Turkmenistan, Iran, Bolivia, Iraq, Eritrea, Kiribati, Tajikistan, East Timor, Mongolia, Guyana, Tuvalu, Zimbabwe, Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, Trinidad and Tobago, Morocco, Maldives, North Korea, Cape Verde, Guatemala, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Micronesia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Marshall Islands, Paraguay, Samoa, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Peru, Belize, Uzbekistan, Brazil, Vietnam, Venezuela, Honduras, El Salvador, Libya, Ecuador, Philippines, Armenia, Solomon Islands, Suriname, and Mexico.

Unemployment is a problem in Gaza, but then again, Hamas has been in charge for five years. Still, Gazans are better off than those in Bosnia, Kosovo, Kenya, or Nepal, among many other countries.

Inflation in Gaza is less than that in Albania, Lebanon, Kuwait, the Philippines, Mexico, Jordan, Bulgaria, Greece, Hong Kong, Tunisia, South Africa, Indonesia, China, Hungary, Iceland, Brazil, Costa Rica, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Turkey, India, Iran, Egypt, Yemen, and Pakistan, among many others.

There are more cell phones in Gaza than in Lebanon, Latvia, Slovenia, Bahrain, Cyprus, Cuba, Costa Rica, and Belize. And there are more internet users in Gaza than in Puerto Rico, Lebanon, Bolivia, Kuwait, Ghana, Lebanon, Estonia, Panama, Cyprus, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Armenia, Iraq, Libya, Cambodia, and Botswana.

Last year, George Will famously noted the irony that Turkey was sponsoring the Gaza Flotilla at a time when Gazans enjoyed higher life expectancy and had better health than Turks. Seizing upon his observation, as this year’s convoy prepares to sail from Turkey and ports in Europe, I decided to check the statistics this year. The point is not to argue Gaza’s diplomatic situation is good, but to pretend there is a humanitarian tragedy under way in Gaza is simply counter to reality.

Below, according to the CIA’s World Factbook, are all the countries and territories with a lower life expectancy than the Gaza Strip, which today enjoys a life expectancy of nearly 74 years, well above the world average of 67.  Gazans born today can look forward to a longer life than those born in:

Malaysia, Thailand, Bulgaria, Seychelles, Jamaica, El Salvador, Estonia, Armenia, Montserrat, Grenada, Latvia, Egypt, Brazil, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Peru, Samoa, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Palaua, Marshall Islands, Philippines, Micronesia, Trinidad and Tobago, Moldova, Indonesia, Fiji, Belarus, Bahamas, Greenland, Guatemala, Cape Verde, Honduras, Iraq, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh, North Korea, Ukraine, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Belize, East Timor, Bolivia, Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Guyana, India, Russia, Papua New Guinea, Nepal, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Nauru, Burman, Tubalu, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Comoros, Yemen, Madagascar, Gambia, Sao Tome and Principe, Togo, Cambodia, Eritrea, Laos, Equatorial Guinea, Haiti, Djibouti, Mauritania, Western Sahara, Ghana, Benin, Senegal, Kenya, Burundi, Guinea, Bostwana, Rwanda, Liberia, the Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Niger, Uganda, Tanzania, Mali, Gabon, Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Lesotho, Somalia, Central African Republic, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Guinea-Bissau, Swaziland, Chad, Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Angola.

As for infant mortality, here are the countries with a higher rate than Gaza, a territory which again falls well below the world average of 41.61 deaths per 1,000 live births:

Angola, Afghanistan, Niger, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Chad, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Republic of the Congo, Liberia, The Gambia, Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia, Ivory Coast, Rwanda, Pakistan, Swaziland, Comoros, Uganda, Burundi, Benin, Guinea, Cameroon, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Laos, Senegal, Cambodia, Yemen, Lesotho, Djibouti, Haiti, Sao Tome and Principe, Kenya, Togo, Madagascar, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Gabon, Burma, Ghana, India, Vanuatu, Namibia, Nepal, Bhutan, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Turkmenistan, Iran, Bolivia, Iraq, Eritrea, Kiribati, Tajikistan, East Timor, Mongolia, Guyana, Tuvalu, Zimbabwe, Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, Trinidad and Tobago, Morocco, Maldives, North Korea, Cape Verde, Guatemala, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Micronesia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Marshall Islands, Paraguay, Samoa, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Peru, Belize, Uzbekistan, Brazil, Vietnam, Venezuela, Honduras, El Salvador, Libya, Ecuador, Philippines, Armenia, Solomon Islands, Suriname, and Mexico.

Unemployment is a problem in Gaza, but then again, Hamas has been in charge for five years. Still, Gazans are better off than those in Bosnia, Kosovo, Kenya, or Nepal, among many other countries.

Inflation in Gaza is less than that in Albania, Lebanon, Kuwait, the Philippines, Mexico, Jordan, Bulgaria, Greece, Hong Kong, Tunisia, South Africa, Indonesia, China, Hungary, Iceland, Brazil, Costa Rica, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Turkey, India, Iran, Egypt, Yemen, and Pakistan, among many others.

There are more cell phones in Gaza than in Lebanon, Latvia, Slovenia, Bahrain, Cyprus, Cuba, Costa Rica, and Belize. And there are more internet users in Gaza than in Puerto Rico, Lebanon, Bolivia, Kuwait, Ghana, Lebanon, Estonia, Panama, Cyprus, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Armenia, Iraq, Libya, Cambodia, and Botswana.

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