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Bass Ball

02/16/12 06:32PM

Even though Republicans will be flocking into Tampa for the big convention August 27 through 30, it is still very much in doubt whether they will have a clear presidential contender by then.What's not in doubt is that the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team -- they dropped the Devil a while back — will have a funky new mascot, DJ Kitty.No telling whether Mitt Romney would make DJ Kitty ride in a cage on top of his car, but when he gets to Tampa, he should definitely arrange a photo op with the beat master, ASAP. read more

Thursday's Mini-Report

02/16/12 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:* By an overwhelming margin, the United Nations General Assembly condemned Syria this afternoon. The resolution, however, was nonbinding.* According to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, "initial three-way talks between the United States, Afghanistan and the Taliban have begun."* Marriage equality has now been approved by both chambers of the New Jersey legislature. Gov. read more

Rachel Maddow on the thesis of 'Drift'

02/16/12 04:45PM

While going through some links in preparation for next month's release of Drift, I came upon this clip of Rachel's interview with Slate's Jacob Weisberg in which she talks about the book's themes and how the U.S. can reintegrate the military with the population at large. read more

Scott Brown stumbles on policy basics

Scott Brown stumbles on policy basics

02/16/12 04:22PM

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) surprised a lot of people earlier this week when he endorsed an unpopular, far-right proposal on contraception. Inexplicably, the ostensible moderate threw his support behind a plan to allow all private-sector employers to deny any health services that businesses might find morally objectionable, including access to birth control.Brown talked to NECN, a regional network that covers Massachusetts, about his position, but failed to read up on the proposal he'd already endorsed. read more

Here's an image you won't see on March 1.

Romney to skip upcoming debate

02/16/12 03:14PM

The Romney campaign has been hinting for over a month that it might start declining invitations to candidate debates. It doesn't come as too big a surprise, then, that the former governor has decided to skip CNN's March 1 debate in Atlanta."With eight other states voting on March 6th, we will be campaigning in other parts of the country and unable to schedule the CNN Georgia debate," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said. "We have participated in 20 debates, including 8 from CNN."The March 1 debate is second-to-last debate before Super Tuesday on March 6. read more

Quote of the Day

02/16/12 02:12PM

Foster Friess is perhaps best known as the very wealthy benefactor behind Rick Santorum's super PAC. As of this morning, he'll probably be known for something else.During an interview with msnbc's Andrea Mitchell, Friess tried to make the case that the presidential campaign should focus on substantive issues, but in the process, he made some jaw-dropping comments about contraception. Here's the clip, by way of Zeke Miller:For those who can't watch clips online, here's the full quote:"I get such a chuckle when these things come out. read more

Pelosi to GOP on contraception: 'Duh!'

02/16/12 01:34PM

House Republicans organized a hearing this morning on the Obama administration's policy on access to contraception, and the first panel was made up exclusively of men -- each of whom opposes the White House position. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was not amused."Five men are testifying on women's health," Pelosi said, adding, "Where are the women? Imagine having a panel on women's health and they don't have any women on the panel."Duh? What is it that men don't understand about women's health and how central the issue of family planning is to that? read more

Struggling to prepare for prime time

Struggling to prepare for prime time

02/16/12 12:40PM

Given all of the discouraging trends of late for Mitt Romney, why do so many continue to assume he'll win the Republican presidential nomination? Jon Chait flagged some interesting tidbits about the former governor's principal rival.Here are some things to keep in mind when assessing Rick Santorum's chances of beating Mitt Romney. He has no pollster, no campaign headquarters, and no paid advance staff. He's currently getting outspent on television in Michigan by a ratio of 29-1.You know the part of the campaign ad where the candidate identifies himself and says he approves this message? read more

Thursday's campaign round-up

02/16/12 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers:* With Rick Santorum releasing four years of tax returns, won't Mitt Romney feel a little more pressure to release more than one year? read more

Maloney asks, 'Where are the women?'

Maloney asks, 'Where are the women?'

02/16/12 11:36AM

Following up on an earlier item, here was the witness table at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, as discussion about contraception access and health care got underway.You'll notice, of course, that all of the witnesses are men. read more

Romney's poorly-timed criticism of the auto rescue

02/16/12 10:50AM

Just two days ago, Mitt Romney published a lengthy condemnation of the Obama administration's rescue of the American auto industry. With General Motors announcing its largest annual profit in company history this morning, the Republican presidential candidate's timing clearly could have been better.For all of 2011, G.M. earned $7.6 billion, nearly all of it from North America. read more

Chairman Issa isn't exactly fair and balanced.

Issa to keep contraception fight going

02/16/12 10:16AM

Republican efforts to combat contraception access have failed rather spectacularly. After a pointless culture-war fight, the American mainstream -- including Roman Catholics and self-identified Republican voters -- agrees that the GOP is wrong and the Obama administration is right.The smart move for congressional Republicans would be to simply move on to other issues, since the GOP probably can't force a legislative change anyway. read more

Declaration of independents

Declaration of independents

02/16/12 09:23AM

For much of 2011, when pundits claimed President Obama's re-election prospects were poor, one area in particular was frequently cited: Obama was struggling with independents, with whom he'd done quite well in 2008. If the president has lost the independents, the argument goes, he's lost a chance at a second term.Putting aside the fact that independents are not a single, like-minded group of voters, the observation was not without merit. read more

Jobless claims reach four-year low

Jobless claims reach four-year low

02/16/12 08:40AM

The general trend on initial unemployment claims over the last few months has been largely encouraging, despite occasional setbacks, and most analysts expected this morning's report to show a modest uptick in filings.The good news is, that didn't happen. The better news is, initial jobless claims have reached a level so low, the numbers haven't been this good in four years.Weekly jobless claims in the U.S. fell by 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 348,000 in the week ended Feb. 11, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's the lowest level since March 2008, when the U.S. read more

Congress strikes a deal on payroll cut

02/16/12 08:00AM

It wasn't easy, and there were times yesterday when the deal was in doubt, but shortly after midnight, as Tricia noted earlier, bipartisan talks produced an agreement on extending the payroll tax break through the end of the year.Members of a House-Senate committee charged with writing a measure to extend a payroll tax reduction said Wednesday that their work was done, just shy of an hour before their deadline to get a bill ready for a Friday vote.After fighting until the very final hour over how to pay for parts of a $150 billion plan that would also extend unemployment benefits and prevent a read more