Saturday, March 31, 2012

The End Of March

++Climate Scientists claim we are at the tipping point where climate change will be irreversible.

++SCOTUS voted in conference on the Affordable Care Act but we will not know until June. In the Nation, John Cole says that its death is exaggerated, believing it will still survive by a 6-3 vote. The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn has written an excellent article "Obamacare on Trial,So is the Supreme Court" on the whole problem of credibility the court will have if a vote to reverse is 5-4. A former Clerk for Anthony Scalia appeared on PBS to say that a reverse would be judicial activism on steroids, something we haven't seen before on an act passed by Congress. Reagan's Solicitor General Charles Fried came away from the oral hearing disgusted at the use by conservative judges of the Tea Party lines and having been encouraged before the hearings on its viability is now convinced the conservative judges decided this before oral arguments. Best line of the week in the Washington Monthly is "Don Verrilli is the Bill Buckner of the legal world." Observers are still wondering why the Obama Administration believed it would be a slam dunk and why they ever thought Anthony Scalia could be impartial.  At the end of the day, we don't know the results yet and several constitutional scholars, who were optimistic but now less so, still believe the Court can't reverse without plunging into disgrace.

++President Obama recorded an unusual video to the supporters of Planned Parenthood on his efforts to stop Republicans from de-funding it. It was an effort to play the Republicans' awesome war on women into a successful wedge issue.

++"Prepare to Celebrate Mitt Romney" is the FOX News line, anticipating that a win in Wisconsin next Tuesday will finally seal the deal. Romney is doing a quick pivot to the general election where he has started to attack President Obama's foreign policy. The ole' Karl Rove technique--attack your enemy at his strongest. Romney's foreign policy team consists of the old George W. crew. While progressives are joking about the GOP not mentioning George, it is likely he will endorse in May. Combine Romney's foreign policy team with his economic team and you have George W. on steroids. 

++The Obama team called out Romney on the Wall Street Journal's investigative report that Bain Capital in the 1980s created a scheme by which employees could avoid taxes. The Obama team asked Romney to release his taxes since the 1980s. The Romney team answered not until Obama released the notes of all foreign leaders to show he had not sold out the country. Clever and plays into the old all Democrats are weak on national security line but also suggests the President would betray the country. This ups the stakes in the anti-Obama rhetoric.

++The Zbig weighed in on Romney, saying he has a viewpoint more appropriate to the 1970s and 1980s and that he lacks any coherent strategic whole view. This is true. What's notable about his advisers is the total lack of anyone who can think geopolitically. Almost all the actual policy experts have a narrow specialty on policy towards Israel and the Middle East. Zbig blasted Romney as not knowing what America's place is in the 21st century.

++John "The Tan Man" Boehner got it right. The Ryan budget is the GOP's political agenda. 

++Sheriff Babeu, famous for his appearance in the McCain "Build The Damn Wall" ad, is being investigated for the disappearance of hundreds of files on the case of his illegal immigrant boyfriend. Also Chief Arapaio has to make a decision whether he will accept that his deputies abused Hispanics and racially profiled immigrants or go to trial.

++Robert Caro gives a preview of his last volume on LBJ in this week's New Yorker. The piece is the section about JFK assassination and captures the event from the viewpoint of LBJ. Fascinating read.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Odds and Ends after Scotus

++Women may like to know that since the passage of the Affordable Care Act,20 million women had preventive care without a co-pay. Cancer screenings,birth control and HIV testing. The number will be larger if the Affordable Care Act survives.  

++The Los Angeles Times writes that the Act is DOA and quotes Anthony Scalia that Congress will have to go back to the drawing board. Charles Pierce, writing in Esquire, says that Scalia has now grown bored, an increasingly intolerant of his colleagues because he believes they are intellectually inferior and less Catholic than him. He's become a "heckler at this point."

++The Obama Administration is trying to warn all the pessimists not to take the justice's questions as telegraphing the decision. Hmmm. O.K.

++Wendell Potter, formerly with CIGNA and a health insurance whistleblower,says the health insurance industry truly, genuinely do not want the Act invalidated. Potter explains the insurance companies now want to elect Republicans to undercut the consumer protections in the bill.

++Early words from the health care industry seem to bear Potter out. Blue Cross-Blue Shield warns that killing the individual mandate would force an increase of 40% in premiums. Other insurance companies have cried that the loss of the individual mandate would send them into a death spiral.

++So--Dead. Well, not so fast, Stuart Taylor, a long-time legal writer, suggests that the impact of overturning the law would create such chaos and unintended consequences that two judges will be brought back from the edge. He mentioned on the Diane Riehm show that he expected Kennedy to come around and ,if so, Roberts would follow. The reason Taylor thinks Roberts might is that as the Supreme Justice he can write the majority opinion and in it insert the limitations on the implications of the individual mandate ,which he so desires. He ended up, even after the last three days, predicting a 6-3 decision to affirm. He also expects the court to affirm extending Medicare. While I am skeptical, Taylor reasons that a 5-4 defeat would be seen as purely political and that Roberts is very sensitive to his legacy and the recent criticism of the Court. Hmmm.

++While Bill O'Relly predicts  Obama will lose in a landslide if gas prices continue to soar, he might have to find another party. The CNN poll of yesterday, which showed Obama handily beating Romney, revealed a much more serious phenomenon. The GOP's favorability was the lowest since CNN started polling twenty years ago. It stands at 35%, thirteen points lower than the Democrats. The Democrats at 48% are now more popular than at any point in two years. While this has implications for the presidential elections, it really has a tremendous impact on congressional elections.

++Dan Rather came back from the dead to appear on Rachel Maddow and said that this year's election will be very close and that Romney will pivot totally for the general election, despite efforts by Democrats to ensure he can't. 

++Rachel Maddow also did a major public service in underscoring Republican past support for Planned Parenthood. George H. W. Bush endorses Romney, who wants to outlaw Planned Parenthood. As Rachel pointed out, both George and Barbara Bush were big supporters of Planned Parenthood. George's father,Prescott was the Connecticut state treasurer of Planned Parenthood. And the kicker is that George's nickname in the House of Representative was "rubbers" because of his advocacy of family planning. Oh, how long ago that seems!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Last Thoughts of the Supreme Court

Maybe it was the time spent on the hearings or maybe it was the fact the justices have made up their minds and this was theater for the rest of us. But the exchanges during the last two days have been frightening. The impression is that these are not judges but powerful people guided by their whims. The spectacle of the justices picking and choosing what aspects of the bill they liked and whether they should send those back to Congress reminded me of board meetings I've been in where older poohbahs examined the work of the staff and then go ranting off on subjects that aren't relevant and then suggest changes which the staff knows will destroy the product but they are powerless to object.

Let's recap here. The Congress of the United States spent two years of time and untold resources trying to develop a healthcare bill that relied on all the precedents of the Supreme Court. John Kerry, who was head of the Finance Committee,told a demonstration outside the Supreme Court today that the bill was examined by the leading constitutional lawyers and found constitutional even before it was passed. 

Everyone working on this issue starting with the Heritage Foundation, who first suggested the individual mandate, to the Democrats who embraced it all operated on the assumption that it was constitutional. Virtually no one along the way, except the very far extreme right, thought it would run afoul of the Constitution. 

Virtually all the serious conservative and liberal constitutional lawyers I trust have written that its constitutionality is a no-brainer. 

If the Supreme Court does not take this into account--and I believe they will not--and the individual mandate is over-ruled, then we are not governed by law, but simply by men. Unfortunately, the Roberts Court has a habit of trying to create law anew on big cases. In Citizens United, by a 5-4 decision they overthrew over 100 years of precedent and allowed for the floodgates of  money to swamp our system.

I had hoped that the Court would have learned its lesson, given Justice Stevens'brilliant and eloquent dissent on Citizens United. However, Chief Justice Roberts ' attitude and curious ignorance of the subject raised my alarm bells. This is a court that decides by personal whim and prejudice. 

Yes, the Court's credibility will be damaged. But they don't seem to care. Judge Breyer walked out muttering in disgust today at the hearing.

So what will happen if the individual mandate is invalidated. Today, the judges were playing with whether to axe the whole bill,unilaterally vetoing the Congress' entire work, or allowing with noblesse oblige some elements to be accepted. 

Princeton's Paul Starr who has written about this issue for years believes health reform could survive this loss. But the New York Times' in its business section showcased the real father of the individual mandate--MIT's Jonathan Gruber. Gruber is the pioneer in modelling the intricacies of a "healthcare ecosystem", that description alone should tell you why Fat Tony Scalia hates the idea. It's too scientifically based, even for Opus Dei.

When he read the proceedings, he had heart palpitations. "Losing the mandate means continuing with our unfair individual insurance markets in a world where employer-based insurance is rapidly disappearing."

What this means concretely is that there will be about 8 more million insured, instead of the 32 million. It will set off a spiral where only relatively sick Americans would get insurance,premiums will rise causing healthier people to drop out and prices will go higher and higher, according to Gruber.

For the liberals among you, Senator Bernie Sanders said today that the public option had only 8-10 votes in the Senate. It was not a viable option then and not for the foreseeable future.

Afternoon Delight

++Mitt Romney regaled a Wisconsin audience with a tale of how his father closed a Michigan auto plant and moved production to Wisconsin. While running for Governor, his father tried to keep the fact hidden from voters. But the band for the campaign kept breaking out with the song "On Wisconsin". So that's why he feels a kindred spirit with Wisconsin. The current governor of Wisconsin is waging a war on labor and has the worst job creation record in the country. And the story only reminds the audience of how rich Romney is and that he didn't back the auto bailout.

++The CNN poll reflects Romney's heartwarming appeal. President Obama now leads Romney 54-43, which is a nice improvement over last months 51-46. The poll shows Obama picking up women and independents.

++Today's Supreme Court hearings were not as apocalyptic as my feelings in the previous post suggested. Fat Tony said he couldn't be bothered reading the whole bill but suggested it would be unfair to throw out all parts of it if they got rid of the individual mandate. The other judges indicated they might have to accept it, although they wanted parts re-written. Clement, the States' lawyer, suggested that if it went back it might get mired in the process. Which raises a question--Do the judges realize we live in a Democracy? None of them seemed to have a clue as to the complexity of drafting and passing such legislation. But there were glimmers that they actually may be hesitating overruling something they haven't read.

Trayvon Martin's Murder

So we thought we knew what happened when Trayvon Martin was gunned down by George Zimmerman. But the more the media circus continues the less we know. While a lot of the rightwing blogs ran photos of Trayvon first posted on the neo-Nazi web page Stormfront making him look like a threatening black man and opined that he got shot because he wore a hoodie,weird other stories started to emerge about his killer George Zimmerman.

First, the photos, which were reproduced by Michelle Malkin and then BusinessInsider, were not of Trayvon Martin. A disclaimer appeared later.

Second, Geraldo Rivera said Trayvon was killed because he wore a Hoodie, which provoked countless displays of solidarity with his family--the 1 million hoodie marches in L.A. and Philadelphia, basketball teams with their head bowed down wearing hoodies. 

Third, the National Rifle Association is selling hoodies where you carry your concealed weapon. Tasty. Then I received from a right-wing man a posting that Obama was selling a hoodie to exploit the death of the poor black man.

And off we go into the apologies for the murderer and the trashing of the victim. 

But about George Zimmerman, a frail 250lb man with a firearm, we learn that he was going to a community college in criminal justice. He was a member of the neighborhood watch group. He constantly called 9-11. They released 47 pages of his 9-11 calls, which had him report "suspicious" 7 and 9 year old black children. The guy was obviously disturbed. We had testimony how he mentored black kids and his "alleged friends" said he wasn't a racist. However,on one call, he said we had to get "the fucking coons" or maybe as another friend alleged "goon's ,which was a term of endearment among teenagers.

But when you see "his friend" appear on another TV show, ask yourself does he actually know Zimmerman? No one in the town has ever heard of this guy except as some kinda media wannabe. No one can testify that this guy knows Zimmerman. And when you see his "attorney" ask yourself the same question--Is this guy actually Zimmerman's attorney? How do we know? He changes his story every appearance.

One small post appeared coming out of Florida. It suggested that Trayvon was murdered because Zimmerman thought he saw something he shouldn't have. The poster suggested that Zimmerman, who was not at his gated community, but in Trayvon's neighborhood was on watch duty for the police's robbery ring. The local police have a reputation as corrupt , not just racist. They are known to have a robbery ring as moonlighting. And George probably thought Rayvon saw them stealing something. Interesting.

But we do know that his body was found with his wallet and his cellphone. We know that his parents were not informed for three days after he had been killed. We know he was at the morgue for that time as a "John Doe" even though his identity was known. Why?

We know now that the police did want to arrest Zimmerman but never got the go-ahead from the D.A. Why?

We know that Zimmerman was not asked at the scene of the crime what happened or why he did it? The scene was not treated as a crime scene. Zimmerman got to go home with the blood-stained shirt but no one ever tested the blood. Zimmerman was said to be handcuffed in the police car and first-aid was applied, accounting for why he didn't go to an emergency room for treatment of a broken nose. Why was he let go?

The police leaked to the Orlando Sentinel the original police report and also the tantalizing factoid that Trayvon had been suspended from school for having a bag with possible marijuana in it. But there was nothing in the police report showing Trayvon had used any drugs and what relevance did that have when he only had Arizona Ice Tea and a bag of candy with him.For about a week, the police and the media suggested that Trayvon attacked Zimmerman and that Zimmerman, the 250 pound  weakling, defended himself.

Once Florida's Governor Rick Scott appointed a new prosecutor, things changed in tone. The prosecutor said she was inclined to indict Zimmerman before even the grand jury hearing. 

Then strange things started happening. It turns out that Zimmerman is the son of a retired judge. He also has a long arrest record for violent attacks on people, including a policeman and his girlfriend. If we wait long enough the story may flip again.

But a young black man still remains dead.

More On Scotus

Flash back to the 2008 presidential race. Candidates Obama and McCain both ran on solving the healthcare crisis in this country. Every President beginning with Harry Truman realized that the United States was the only modern country without a healthcare system that ensured every citizen treatment. At the end of the campaign, we were a nation with over 50 million uninsured and serious health problems often brought bankruptcy. In fact healthcare is the number one reason Americans declare bankruptcy.

So what happens if the Radical Roberts Court over-rules the Congress of the United States and declares the Affordable Care Act null and void? It means the millions of children who now find themselves ensured will be off the rolls. The 50 million number will vastly increase as millions will be priced out of the market. With the caps on total insurance reimbursements lifted, millions more Americans will become bankrupt. The costs of premiums for those with insurance will sky-rocket. The industry says it will raise the rates next year 25%. People like myself will not be able to carry my son on my own insurance until the age of 25. Lucky for him, his parents are committed he graduate from college debt free. But for the students carrying $1 trillion in debt now, how many can afford or make the choice to get insurance? 

When the Affordable Healthcare Act passed, it was a momentous occasion--the Big Fucking Deal in the words of Joe Biden. The United States by the vote of Congress recognized that healthcare was a right, not a privilege. If the bill is reversed, it will go back but become a very special privilege. 

Let me make this personal. When my 501-C-3 had insurance in a small pool, my premium soared to $25,000 a year. I dropped it and took insurance with my wife's employer. But like millions of Americans that insurance is paid by us, not the employer. Today,my health premiums rival my mortgage and taxes. With my peak earning days behind me and Medicare five years ahead of me, we have entered no-man's land. If for some reason, we should change insurance, we would run up against the so-called pre-existing condition issue, although to average people we have none. It is just that insurance companies run logarithms to determine your eligibility and throw you off if a pattern emerges that you can not possibly know. During the healthcare debates,the health insurance companies would not share their formulas with Congress. Horror stories were told of people literally on the operating table and being denied coverage. That's the nightmare average people will have, especially now that they know whereas before they only suspected. 

Today,my health insurance premiums rival my mortgage and my taxes in terms of cost. If Obamacare is repealed, they would become the number one expense. And this expense would continue if Medicare became Paul Ryan's Vouchercare. And there would be nothing you could do about it. Almost all Americans would be reduced to servitude. And let's not even talk about the Donut Hole being opened up again and drug costs soaring as the population ages.

That's why the SCOTUS arguments are irritating. The New York Times this morning has an excellent editorial cautioning the Court to remember their limits. The Congress already evaluated the policy and economic implications of our health crisis and democratically came to a peculiar American solution that passed both chambers. The justices obviously have shown their ignorance of the health care market and have been disappointing in not evoking the common good. Congress was regulating a market for the common good and the benefit to millions of Americans. To overturn this bill would be a body blow to our democracy and raise grave doubts about the integrity of the Supreme Court.

Yesterday Anthony Scalia, who had been pegged as a possible supporter of the individual mandate because of very specific cases in his past made it clear he knew those arguments and tried to distinguish this case from those which were identical. It was clear he will vote against the individual mandate anyway. 

But most disturbing was the fact that Scalia was not being ideological, he was just oblivious from his questioning about how healthcare worked in this country. Remember the Supreme Court Judges have the best healthcare and have their own suites at Walter Reed Hospital with chandeliers and catered food. They don't remember paying a dime for healthcare. Scalia mused how wonderful it was that so many young people do not have health insurance because they are well. Then he suggested if they got ill,they just buy some. Clueless.

Scalia remembers the days when we were young and doctor's costs were low. In those days--until 1984--Blue Cross-Blue Shield was a non-profit organization and its "profits" were plowed into the company to provide health care for the needy. No longer. 

But there is another point.  The more younger people are insured, the lower the health insurance costs for the entire population. That's why Medicare for all would be the ideal solution if our society was committed to health and not profit. But none of the judges comprehended the basics of insurance--let alone the social problem. You just don't walk into a hospital on a stretcher and buy health insurance. Although, this could be a great marketing tool--kiosks at hospitals selling health insurance. It is something Bain Capitol might invest in.

This morning they argued about the extension of Medicare, which would bring tens of millions into the insurance pool. But the states are worried that those who are eligible now will start enrolling and put financial stress on the states. So to kill it, the states are invoking the 10th amendment. This would leave tens of millions without health insurance and healthcare itself. So far the Court in the days of law never over-ruled Congress on extending Medicare.

For those who haven't been to an emergency room lately, you have to undergo a credit check if you don't have insurance and sign a paper guaranteeing you will pay the bill. Let's just say you had a scare of a heart attack as I did a few years ago. You go in and they don't know what's wrong. After several tests over two days they send you home. The bill comes--my insurance covered most but the bill also showed the cost of the tests and hospital stay for the uninsured. It was a remarkable $25,000. What uninsured person has that? And if Americans were all insured, these costs would go down as would healthcare costs in the country alone.

The United States spends 18% of its economy on healthcare. Any one who tells you there is no rationing is a liar and that there are no waits for operations doesn't understand the system. You can not have a modern economy and eat up this percentage of the economy on health. No one else does. The Affordable Healthcare Act actually cuts our national debt by $500 billion. That would disappear and the debt from healthcare would climb once again.

What about the average American family who earns $49,000 a year? That is the new average. Employer provided health insurance is going the way of the Do Do. The family will cheat by getting high deductibles praying they don't get sick. This may work for one or two years. But if they got good insurance and paid for it themselves it would run them about $7,000 a year. That's with no one ill. Then add in rent or a mortgage payment as well as the cost of car and gas and you are now below the Middle Class. And then hope no one in the family gets sick.

Or the converse, how much do you need to earn so health insurance premiums and healthcare costs do not represent a major part of your expenses. I would estimate $250,000 or more, the average Romney voter's salary. Any one in between will lose their standard of living.

So let's remember the Left's criticism of Obamacare. The Left complained that it would only insure 30 out of 50 million. I'll take it. The ideal solution would be the single payer option but it was not politically viable then and will not be again within a generation. To be blunt, if the Supreme Court reverses the Affordable Care Act, nothing will be done to reform our healthcare system for at least a generation. The political costs will be perceived too high and the entrenched power elites will act to destroy it as they are now doing.

To have the threat of illness hang over you with the double danger of financial insolvency kills the American dream more than almost anything else. We will become a nation of serfs, genuflecting to the Slaver Class who may or may not provide us with health insurance. 

In short, the Supreme Court hearings are ludicrous. Nothing can be more dispiriting to hear than judges who are simply clueless about the subject at hand and callous about the effects of their actions on millions of Americans. For now,let's hope the Roberts Court snaps to attention and actually thinks about how serious the case really is and how the bill tries--imperfectly--to address one of our most major social and economic problems. I'm concerned that the conservative judges and their cheerleaders want to deal President Obama a political loss since this is his signature achievement in his first term. But then the hangover will last for decades. And President Obama and his family will always have healthcare. Others of us might not.

Riff-Raff Tuesday

++The final Scotus hearings today. Last night's Rachel Maddow showed a poll that made your heart sink. 8% didn't know how SCOTUS would vote, 15% said they would base their decision on the legal merits, and 75% said on the politics of the judges. I'm deeply afraid the American people are right. But more later if my mood lifts. A survey of both conservative and liberal former Supreme Court judges overwhelmingly still believe the law will pass.

++I guess Mitt Romney showed up at Jay Leno because he and Jay are car buffs. Willard is building an elevator to take his cars underground at his California estate. But his remarks about health insurance should frighten people. Asked about what people with pre-existing conditions over 45 should do about insurance and he basically said they are out of luck. So saith the Slaver Class.

++Willard is taking a break to raise more money to buy attack ads. In Wisconsin, Santorum was in the lead before Romney started buying tons of attack ads and now he is leading. Santorum has been the only Republican to campaign in Wisconsin so far. He should feel better once Romney shows up and Willard's negatives will shine through.

++George H.W.Bush endorsed Romney today. The younger Romney has been a little project of Father Bush since the last election. Bush graciously gave a forum for Romney last time for him to explain his religion. A JFK speech it was not.

++The ABC/Washington Post poll showed why President Obama is currently in the lead. Obama enjoys a 53% favorability rating against 43% negatives. Romney, on the other hand, has a 34% favorability rating and a 50% negative rating. Obama has never been as far down as Romney. Romney's favorable/unfavorable rating is the worse for a major candidate for president of any major party. Only Hillary Clinton dipped to 50% negative rating during the 2008 campaign.

++Quinnipiac polls of swing states shows:
Florida : Obama 49    Romney 42
Ohio:      Obama 47    Romney 41
Pennsylvania: Obama 45  Romney 42

My note and E.J. Dionne picked this up is that the Obama campaign has to watch Pennsylvania. But Romney can not win without Florida and Ohio.

++Our wonderful media missed the story of President Obama in Korea for the second world conference on non-proliferation. The Obama Administration on non-proliferation of nuclear materials has been superb and the number of states who have shipped nuclear materials to safe haven in the United States has doubled in two years.

++But the story was President Obama's open mike remark to Dmitri Medvedev about needing more time on the missile defense negotiation and after election he would be more flexible. 

++So forget Iran--that's old news. Willard Romney jumped on Obama's comments--thereby stepping on Obama's international achievement--and declared that Russia was our number 1 geostrategic threat. Which may come as news to Romney watchers. First, China was the most serious threat. Then in the conservative newsletter Human Events Romney claimed Iran was the greatest threat since the Soviet Union. That's a lot of threats. And today Romney had an op-ed that Obama was surrendering to Vladimir Putin--sort of like Obama apologizes all the time. John Boehner actually did the decent thing and criticized Romney for attacking the President when he was overseas. But John McCain supported Romney's remarks.

++Dmitri Medvedev slammed the Republican nominees, saying we weren't in the 1980s anymore. "The Cold War is over". Well, not for people like John McCain who still wants to liberate South Ossetia. 

++For people of California, a recent poll shows Obama with a 57-36 lead over Romney--the native son of California,Michigan, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Utah. So far it looks like Willard will only win his Vatican--Utah.

++Yes, Scott Walker is being recalled in Wisconsin. Two days ago polls showed he would lose to any of the Democratic candidates. Yesterday, the polls showed he would edge out all the Democratic candidates.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Legal Beagles

++The second day of hearings on the Healthcare Bill has concluded. There is doom and gloom among supporters of the bill because the government lawyer seemed to muff the argument for the individual mandate. He was greeted with hostility by the conservative judges, while the opposing lawyer was not asked any probing questions of his own. 

++Prior to today's hearing, Supreme Court watchers pegged upholding the individual mandate was either a 6-3 to 7-1 vote. Even Reagan's Solicitor General Charles Fried shocked me with a prediction of an 8-1 vote. The ABA had conducted a survey of its members and found that over 2/3rds thought the bill would be upheld.

++But in today's oral hearing, Judge Kennedy, one of those to whom the whole bill was crafted for, came out of the box, raising questions about what limits are in place to prevent using the mandate for other obligations. The situation deteriorated so that the liberal judges had to step in and start making the case for the lawyer.

++Strangely Chief Justice Roberts appeared more amenable to the individual mandate because health care in the United States--unlike anywhere on planet earth--is a market driven enterprise. So first you have the fact that the Court must decide whether Congress can regulate a market that comprises 18% of the economy. Secondly, everyone from the day they are born are a part of the market. Thirdly, can you actually opt out of the market even when you benefit? 

++By the end of the day,op-ed writers were saying that the individual mandate will depend on how the judges define the market. Now optimists say it would pass 5-4 or 6-3. On the other hand Jeffrey Toobin claims that hearing the arguments of today,"the law is in grave,grave trouble."

++Robert Reich thinks that if the individual mandate is defeated then President Obama can pivot and advocate Medicare for all. Nice but hardly realistic in this environment. 

++The real problem is if the law is overturned,this will open again the pandora's box of issues that had been put to rest--no cap on health care, no refusal for pre-existing conditions, no copays for preventive medicine , whether my son can stay on our health insurance until 25. 

++The problems created by this bill being declared unconstitutional put at risk the entire health system of the country. Readers who read this blog when the health bill was being debated will remember that the health insurance companies held a conference here in Washington for their accountants and economic analysts . The private conference concluded that the industry would have to adopt crisis methods if the bill didn't pass. The industry could absorb the changes if they were guaranteed additional customers. Otherwise, as one Stanford professor noted, the industry would resemble other businesses which seem to have booms because of excess profit and then they collapse. The industry itself would have to start culling customers from its base to maintain any economic viability. It would also have to exclude millions to survive. This would then cause premium prices to skyrocket. Already the industry says it will raise premiums 25% next year if the individual mandate is defeated.

++Other bloggers have speculated on the effect of a negative ruling on President Obama's re-election. I won't go there until the summer when there is actually a real ruling.

++Meanwhile the Department of Justice has filed to have a faster review of the DOMA act. The DOJ is already on record refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act but wants to expedite this with en banc hearings in the 9th Appeals Court. The idea is to speed its way to the Supreme Court

Monday, March 26, 2012

The 269-269 Tie--The Path to 270

I will leave the Supreme Court hearings today for another time. Oh,by the way, Santorum won Louisiana and Mitt only won those earning over $250,000. But it's clear that Bishop Willard will be the nominee and vie to become the Fourth Mormon, that person who brings Mormonism into the establishment.

So to encourage Willard's fans, Steve Singiser of the Daily Kos has worked up a scenario where the electoral college could end in a 269-269 tie. Singiser writes that as of today President Obama holds every state he won in 2008 with the exception of Indiana and the electoral vote in Nebraska. However, the margins are tight. He averaged the last five polls, where available, to determine that there are six states where the lead is less than 5 points. Together they total 78 votes and if Romney swung the nation four points he would win them. 

Those states are North Carolina,Florida,Nevada,Iowa, Ohio and New Hampshire. 

Of course, if the nation moved in another direction, Obama would pick up Arizona, Missouri and Indiana,as well as the above six.

Even though we are in the first quarter--I know, it feels like three years,and lots will go on before the general election,President Obama has a pretty solid base. If you count states where he has a 10+ lead,they are 201 electoral votes or 74% of those he needs. Compare that with Willard with a lead of 10+ in states adding up to 71 votes.

So let's take a look:

Obama has a 10+ lead in states adding up to 201 electoral votes
Obama has a 5-10 point lead in states adding up to 68votes. Those are Wisconsin,Michigan, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Colorado
(So Obama is at 269)
Obama with a lead of less than 5 in states adding up to 78 electoral votes. They are New Hampshire,Ohio,Iowa,Nevada, Florida and North Carolina. (I should add that the latest polling in New Hampshire and Ohio show far greater Obama leads.)

Romney leads with less than 5 points in states totaling 32 votes.
Romney leading in states with 5-10pts totaling 88 votes
Romney leading in states with 10+pts totaling 71 votes.

While in this scenario, Romney could get to 269,look at Obama position. Let's say he loses five out of six of those where he leads with less than 5%, he wins the election.  Romney's path to 270 at this moment is not hopeful if the best one can come up with is a 269-269 tie. And that's if all things fall Romney's way.

Also remember that Obama wins if the economy averages 155,000 jobs per month. Obama wins if he gets 52% of the woman's vote. 

The unknown factor is the role that Republican SuperPacs will play. Also, how successful will voter suppression efforts succeed this election?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Entering into Radio Silence

++I will be off for a few days. I have already lost one post because of the new Google design so I'll keep this short or else see some more work eaten by the Googlemonster.

++The President was in Roswell and said that,"I announced to people when I landed that I came in peace." 

++Some wag said that the Republicans have a new 4G network--God, Guns, Gays and Gynecology.

++George W.Bush today is more popular than Mitt Romney.

++Rick Santorum said you are better off with what you got with President Obama than taking a risk with the Etch-A-Sketch man.

++Romney's spokesperson tweeted today--after Etch-A-Sketch's stock rose, he would mention "Mr. Potato Head next". The problem with this is that also sticks to his candidate.

++President Obama has a 55 to 38 lead over Mitt Romney with women. Remember 53% of women for Obama gives him the election.

++James Carville said the Obama campaign was not worried about Mitt Romney but about events. "Romney cannot beat Obama ,only events can beat Obama."

++The New Hampshire Legislature, which is controlled by the Tea Party, upheld the same-sex marriage law. 

++We are heading into the big Health Care saga at the Supreme Court. Almost feel I should not write about the arguments for fear of jinxing it.

++Jeb Bush is pushing Romney to select Marco Rubio as Vice President. Jeb knows the GOP is doomed if it gets even less Hispanic vote this year than in 2008. But Marco has a lot of baggage for someone so young. He has hired private detectives to conduct opposition research on him. Frankly, I think it would be better if they waited a few more years. 

++Karl Rove is at it again. He writes in the Wall Street Journal that Obama getting bin Laden was no big deal, any commander in chief would have done the same thing. You'll recall at the time all the Bushies claiming that Obama was only following the leads produced  by enhanced interrogation under George W. Rove misquotes Bill Clinton from the Obama campaign documentary to seem to make his point.

++This is the leitmotif of this year's campaign--Denigrate President Obama, de-legitimize his achievements and hope that lightening strikes.  The other thing to this campaign that the Obama people must watch out for is that these attacks on him are to make him lose his cool, something McCain was dying to do in 2008. Instead, we have Romney lose his cool and take a tape-recorder away from a reporter because he didn't like the questions.

++My last passing note is that Romney at a rally in Maryland said that it wasn't Obama that saved America from another Depression it was George W. Bush. I'm not sure that message will resonate far. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Ahead: Romney Romps

++Over 30% of Republicans didn't like their choices in Illinois but they voted for Mitt Romney by a 47% to 35% margin over Rick Santorum. Romney outspent Rick by 7 to 1. 

++Jeb Bush became the latest power hitter to endorse Romney. According to a GOP operative,Jeb "had lost any hope that we'll have anyone better."

++Dick Armey's Freedom Works, a teaparty organization, has dropped its reservations against Romney being the GOP nomination. 

++Romney's aide this morning hit the big time with media coverage. He said that Romney will change his extreme right positions once the primary season is over saying that Romney is like an "Etch-A-Sketch" or as Jon Huntsman said, a "well-lubricated weather vane". Or an empty suit.

++The War on Women is working out real well for the GOP. Virginia's Governor Bob McDonnell's approval rating collapsed from 53% last month to 32% this month. The drop is entirely due to the opposition of women to his ultrasound legislation. A majority of Virginians oppose the legislation.

++More on Obama's demise. The hapless President only raised $45 million in February, above the $29 million the month before. The average donation to his campaign is $59. 97.7% of Obama donors give $250 or less. The campaign so far has 1,552,000 donors and 105,000 this month are first-time givers. But Karl Rove is putting his Super Pac money behind Mitt Romney. Romney's Super Pac has drawn more billionaires than Obama's small Super Pac. The Swiftboaters are contributing $3 million to Romney's campaign. The battle royal heats up between Americans and the super wealthy.

++President Obama enjoys a 70-14 lead over Romney among Hispanics. If this holds up, one blogger did the math and gave Romney all swing states and he could not get to 270. Hispanics provide the key swing votes in electoral vote rich states.

++Purple Strategies has released their March poll on 12 swing states. Unfortunately, they did not give a state-by-state readings. But President Obama has a 48-44 lead in the swing states and 48 to 40 lead among independents. I thought Obama looked a little vulnerable on the Commander in Chief issue, where the voters favored his approach to Israel and Iran by 48 to 45. Obama's favorable was 46, with disapproval at 50. Romney's favorable rating was 29% with a 56% unfavorable rating. 

++Quinnipiac released polls on Virginia and Nevada. President Obama wins both states handily.

++Nicest video today was by a deaf student who attended Obama's rally in Maryland. Obama signed "thank you" to a message from the student. 

++When I have the stomach, I may--not a promise--write about Paul Ryan's assault on decency and his amazing ability time after time to produce budgets that create staggering deficits while providing for nothing for the American people. According to his budget, there would only be 1% left for discretionary spending on domestic programs. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Man For All Seasons--Bayard Rustin at 100

Just a short note to remark that today is Bayard Rustin's 100th Birthday. Some of us who had the privilege of working with Bayard remember him today as being the vanguard of the vanguard.

Few events over the past few years do not reflect Bayard's interest and activism as well as are reminders of his deep legacy. The Uprising in Wisconsin reflects his concerns about the trade union movement and the need for collective bargaining. His old institution, the A. Philip Randolph Institute, is working on combattingVoter ID laws throughout the country just as Bayard agitated for the Voting Rights Act passed under LBJ. Occupy Wall Street and the national protests around the disparity of wealth in this country emphasize Bayard's concerns for income equality. And key to all this has been the selfsame commitment to non-violence as the only appropriate means for real change.

Perhaps the only upbeat news these days has been about gay rights and the sea change in our society's attitudes toward gays and lesbians. For years, Bayard's work and role in the civil rights movement were kept in the shadows because of his homosexuality. Today, he is being justly hailed as a pioneer in these matters and a man who was critical in advancing civil liberties for all.

I will wait to write more when I receive my copy next week of "I Resist",the life of Bayard Rustin through his letters.

His companion and the keeper of his legacy Walter Naegle has developed a series of events celebrating Bayard's 100 years. We have had concerts and art shows here in D.C. There will be celebrations in his hometown of Chester, Pennsylvania. Berkeley, California issued a proclamation celebrating Bayard's 100 years. But, alas, I regret there has been no stamp.

So, Happy Birthday, Bayard.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Running Against The Fantasy Obama

After watching "The Road We've travelled", my mail box as filled with rightwing e-mails denouncing Obama for a flag with his face on it seen in Florida, the desecration of military cemeteries in Libya as confirmation of the folly of supporting the Arab Spring, and a Youtube of how President Obama's birth certificate was forged. None of this could sway anyone but reinforce the rightwing views of our radical, Marxist, Muslim, Kenyan-born President. Sometimes, I respond, "Feel the hate, Luke."

Jonathan Bernstein writing in today's Washington Post warns the Republicans about running against this phantom and believing their own nonsense. Today, Mitt Romney again remarked that President Obama never had a real job--say like bankrupting companies. Bernstein writes that you and your self-enclosed world may buy this but that no one is going to accept the President is inexperienced or that he's never had a "real job", like teaching constitutional law or ,more to my point, organizing communities wasn't a real job. The problem for Republicans is that if they recant on these fantasies they will be drummed out of the party and the Catholic Church or their local Mormon Tabernacle.

Yesterday, the President and the Vice President kicked off their campaign. The President didn't refer to his opponents by name but Vice-President Biden assumed the role of the attack dog. The Vice President was warming up his routine before going on to other "swing states". His was a populist economic message aimed at the middle class and warning voters that if they vote Republican they will "bankrupt the middle class". He wove enough anti-1%er language in the speech to take on Mitt Romney and he reminded Ohio voters that Mitt was for letting Detroit go bankrupt and that even Bain Capital had no money to bail out the auto industry, something Bain said at the time.

The Obama campaign has believed that they will face a battered Romney as the Republican nominee. Romney yesterday admitted the economy was getting better and that the recovery looked like it was going to hold. The more the economy does, the whole rationale for his candidacy starts to evaporate but if voters feel a recovery, they will remember who did the heavy lifting and how obstructed.

So how is Republican enthusiasm for Willard. Gallup today released a poll that GOP enthusiasm for Willard is far below its embrace of McCain in 2008.
Will you enthusiastically support your candidate--47% McCain; 35% Romney
Is Your Vote against Obama--35% McCain; 42% Romney
Will you vote for Obama --6% McCain ; 8% Romney
Stay Home --8% McCain ; 11% Romney

This blog has posted a few polls recently that demonstrate that Obama is getting his mojo back and re-capturing his 2008 coalition. Today, the Allstate(really)/National Journal/Heartland poll has President Obama's approval rating hitting 51% and his numbers among components of his coalition coming back to 2008 numbers. Obama still lags among white independents and white students. Otherwise, everything is about equal or above. 60% of the respondents said that the economy was improving and the majority give credit to measures taken by President Obama.

If you want an excellent Paul Krugman column, today's "Born Killers" is Krugman at his Nobel best explaining how oil prices work and how Republican calls for "Drill,Baby, Drill" will not cut prices or lead to greater employment. He does an excellent comparison of the current boom in South Dakota, which Republicans tout as their model, and the gas boom in Pennsylvania, which shows that in large populated states the oil and gas industry do not create enormous numbers of jobs. It is worth reading as Romney criticizes the President for wanting "alternative energy", while he wants an "alternative President"--yuck, yuck.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Obama's "Coolitude"--The Road We Have Travelled

I watched the 17-minute film the Obama campaign made to kick things off. It was a welcome tonic for a political period of hysteria, insanity and shrillness. Tom Hanks did superb job of narrating the film, making you comfortable without a lot of hype.

It is hard to remember that joyous day in Grant's Park when the Obamas walked out to receive the thunderous ovations for a remarkable election victory. Among those interviewed that night was a tearful Rev. Jesse Jackson, who said, "Barack Obama is like Jackie Robinson." My reaction at that time was an image of a prematurely white-haired Jackie Robinson who had to endure intense and vitriolic racial abuse in his years as a Brooklyn Dodger. Or my best memory of that night was Bishop Desmond Tutu, exclaiming, "You are crazy! Americans are so crazy! You disappoint us and then turn around and surprise us."

The film took us into the big decisions President Obama has had to make and was suitably persuasive that these were, in the immortal words of Jose Biden, "Big F***king Deals". The film was assisted by Bill Clinton chiming in on the auto bailout and the decision to go after Bin Laden. Joe Biden did a good job of setting the situation up--"He was all alone. All by himself." If he failed he would be a one-term President.

I was glad that the film incorporated the idea that President Obama went forward on health care reform, despite his advisers, because of the memory of his mother's sickness with ovarian cancer. It always seemed to be the most salient explanation of why he kept pressing this issue when he faced and still faces intense resistance.

Obviously directed and scripted for a political campaign. That's why you got to see so much about the bailout of the auto industry and what it actually means.

If you add up all the different accomplishments so far, President Obama would still be a great President, even if it were for only one term.

The missing dimension to the story about this film is its use tonight around the country in meetings of Obama supporters and contributors. And the linkage with various social networks. In short, the film was leveraged for maximum political and financial effect to bolster the Obama base.

You can tell the concern this had among Republicans. Karl Rove, the master of stepping on other people's message, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today expressing concerns about the Obama campaign's "burn-rate" of money, noting that Democrats are concerned about their ability to match Republicans this year and that the film was a waste of precious money. Clever. Karl gets to step on Obama's message and then obscure the fact the story of the day is that the Romney campaign has squandered its money and is now totally dependent on SuperPac funds. It is also true that Obama's fund-raising does not look like it will hit the $1 billion he and his aides predicted the campaign would cost. But then you have to compare it to his rivals, whom he eats for lunch.

Or perhaps Karl Rove was concerned about another aspect of the film. It severely wounds Rove's image of President Obama as Jimmy Carter, an indecisive commander-in-chief. I never thought this would work but the Republicans keep repeating it until it might become true.

My bet--the film will more than make up its cost. Nice job.

Fox News Poll Shows Obama's Imminent Collapse

O.K., I lied.

The Fox News poll measured favorable/unfavorable ratings for the President, his rivals and the two political parties.

President Obama is at 50%, with 47% unfavorable
Mitt Romney is at 39%, with a 49% unfavorable
Democrats are at 48% favorable, with 44% unfavorable.
Republicans are at 39% with a 52% unfavorable.

Is the economy turning around?
Yes, it is! gets 58% and No gets 40%.

Who wins in the Presidential election? President Obama at 46% and Romney at 42%. and the President crushes anyone else.

What is worrisome to me is that like with many polls, Obama's favorables are way ahead of Romney's for example, but the margin of lead is not as correspondingly large. Robert Samuelson wrote about this reveal weeks ago in the Washington Post that while indicators of a President Obama victory are there his leads over Romney--except in the Pew poll--has been marginal or slim. This suggests that people actually sense a fragility in the current economic situation and their decisions are not as finalized as one would believe.

Lunch at The Hacienda

++Arizona is going to introduce--again--its birthed bill on the strength of Chief Arapaho's stunning investigation showing that PDF files emit white halos.

++Arizona employees can be fired for using contraceptives according to a new edict.

++Arizona looks like it is in play for Obama. Gee, what makes you think so?

++In reviewing Pope Benedict's declaration of war on all matters sexual in the United States, it occurred to me that we legalized everything years ago at the Supreme Court level and now for same sex marriages doing so at the state level.

++Opus Dei candidate Rick Santorum was in Puerto Rico lecturing them on learning English before they can become a state. You wonder why the Chicago Tribune editorial today commented on the GOP as white and male and losers. The Tribune made a point of showing how GOP's lack of outreach to Hispanics as the fastest rising voter group has cost them California, which once was a swing state. And look at Arizona and New Mexico.

++Charles Blow picked up on the Pew Poll and elaborated even more. Obama leads Romney in every region of the country. Blow also pointed to the demographic death wish of the GOP. By the time of the general election,enough seniors may die off to give that last cohort to Obama so he can make a clean sweep.

++A note about Nate the Great. Nate Silver yesterday wrote on his blog a post that contradicted my view yesterday that Romney was the second choice of Gingrich voters. Nate claims 57% would go to Santorum and about one quarter would go to Romney. (Note: Nate blew the call on Alabama and Mississippi when he said a Santorum double win was the least probable outcome.)

++About oil prices, while Americans tend to blame oil companies and Middle East tensions rather than Obama, will they give Obama credit for the price decreases? Obama and Prime Minister Cameron agreed to release some of the strategic reserves to lower oil prices. We have yet to learn about what the Department of Justice's speculation unit finds.

++Remember those corny photo-ops with President Obama and veterans and him announcing hiring veterans programs. Never made the headlines. But the jobless rate of veterans is now down to 7.6%, lower than the national rate. This is a full five points below last year's 12.5%. Think these programs had anything to do with them.

++The new jobless claims for the general population are at a four-year low.

++Yes, Pat Robertson did endorse oral sex in a marital relationship. Those naughty leftists are trying to spin it the other way by quoting his remark to those hesitant about engaging in the act, "If you feel it's a sin, then it's a sin." He was just being pastoral in easing his flock's discomfort. Pat also came out for decriminalizing marijuana because it is a waste of money and leads to higher rates of imprisonment of minorities. Amen, Brother.

++Should Newt Gingrich quite the race (speaking of oral sex)? No, there is no compelling reason for him. If he limps along to the convention, he can dream he is the kingmaker. The latest Beltway wisdom (cough) is that Willard can not reach the number of necessary delegates to cinch it beforehand. Of course, the same applies to everyone else.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Slightly Deeper Look at the Pew Poll

The Pew Poll is worth digging into if you have the time to wade through 60+ pages of findings. I was interested in how it tracked with The Emergent America poll by Greenberg. Does it show the original coalition that supported President Obama coming together and what groups are beyond his persuasion.

President Obama beats Romney with men by 49 to 46. Romney leads Obama by eight points among white men 52-44.

President Obama beats Romney 58 to 38% with women and this is likely to grow.

Among younger voters 18 to 29, President Obama beats Romney by 63% to 35%.
This number for the young is important because it has been true that the first vote cast will determine a person's voting record for a generation. President Reagan basically had the same young vote in his time.

Among Blacks,President Obama wins with a 99 to 1 vote.
The Pew poll disappoints or I am too lazy to find the Hispanic vote. His approval rating among Hispanics is in the mid-60s. Among all people of color, President Obama has a 83 to 13 edge over Willard.

The only age cohort that Romney does well against President Obama is the 65+ group where both men are tied.

According to religion, President Obama wins the Catholic vote but loses the fundamentalist.

The Democratic Party has a 49% favorable rating against 36% for Republicans. For women, Democrats have a favorable 54% and 38% for Republicans. This is a huge gender gap as I've pointed out in writing about other polls.

Finally, 59% say President Obama will win re-election.

What is interesting is when they come to Santorum. 46% of Republicans believe Santorum would beat Obama. But 43% say that Obama would beat Santorum.
60% of Republicans believe that Romney would beat Obama.

So if you write off women, Hispanics, Blacks, the young, then you have to rely on a massive white male vote to be competitive. Republicans usually do better than Democrats on this score but in Romney's case he would have to soar into the mid-60s or beyond. He's at 52 right now.

Lunch Time at the Last Manatee

++Yesterday the National Council of the AFL-CIO unanimously and "enthusiastically" endorsed President Obama's re-election. Obvious, But consider the AFL-CIO's statements of 2010 when they vowed not to be any party's automatic backer. This year they plan to mobilize millions of their members in a more aggressive campaign than every before. Unions will play a key role in the elections in the Midwest states--
Michigan,Wisconsin,Ohio,Indiana, Illinois and even Pennsylvania.

++Pope Benedict or Cardinal Ratzinger sent the American bishops home from Rome to be more aggressive in the political debate in the United States. The Bishops and Cardinals were told to get heavily involved in the political debate on the questions of abortion, same sex marriage, cohabitation,contraception,and abstinence. Former Religious Right maven Frank Schaeffer at his blog writes that the Catholic Church crossing the line on contraception dooms the social conservatives. He writes about how he personally negotiated the rapprochement between the Catholic Church and the fundamentalist Christians on the issue of abortion and how both sides agreed that the contraception issue doomed their cause. But it doesn't seem to matter with the Pope's edicts. Clearly,the whole Blunt Amendment had the vocal support of the Catholic Church since Senator Rubio co-sponsored because of a letter read from the pulpit.

++So how is the war against the uteri going? The Bloomberg National poll asked about the controversy about access to contraceptives in health insurance plans.
33% thought it was a matter of religious liberty.
62% thought it was solely the matter of a woman's health and contraception.
5% were not sure.

"Do you believe birth control should or should not be part of the political debate?
20% should
77% should not
3% not sure.

Looks like Frank may have been right.

++In the same poll, a majority of women and a plurality of men believe Rush Limbaugh should be fired for his comments about Sandra Fluke. The Army has now dropped Rush but the Department of Defense keeps him on.

++Always sensitive to the mood of the public, Mitt Romney said yesterday,"Planned Parenthood. We'll get rid of that". The rationale was that we should not borrow from China for programs that are not essential--like women's health.

++In the stampede away from the GOP, 77% of women reject the GOP position on birth control.

Pew and PPP polls--Obama's Demise Continues

If you received a fund-raising e-mail from the Obama campaign, you'll know that they are scaring you with the prospects of a Romney win. I thought it was an adroit use of the two bad polls in the New York Times and the Washington Post. And even Bloomberg had Obama and Romney tied.

So let's see how far Obama has fallen. PEW released its latest poll today that showed Obama beating Romney 54 to 42 among registered voters. President Obama hit the 50% job approval rating for the first time since May 2011. President Obama is favorably thought of by voters by a 56%-41 margin.

Mitt Romney has a low 29% favorability rating against 51% unfavorable. In my day that meant the candidate was dead. There is an enthusiasm gap between Obama supporters and Romney voters. 41% of Obama supporters are strongly for the President, while only 28% of Romney supporters strongly support him. The gap grows wider against Santorum. Obama supporters are 45% strongly in favor of the President and Santorum has 28% strong support.

In terms of "engagement", Republicans have a slight edge . 71% have given their choice quite a lot of thought, while only 64% of Democrats have done the same. But this gap is far less than in 2010.

Talking Points Memo's poll tracker has Obama at 46.% versus Willard at 42.9%.

OK, these national polls change with the weather but what about at the state level. PPP released this morning their tenth poll of Pennsylvania since President Obama took office. President Obama has polled the best today than in all the past Pennsylvania polls. He leads Romney by 49 to 42. Where the rubber meets the road is among independents. Romney has a 32 favorable/51 unfavorable rating among them. And Obama, who has trailed among independents in the past, has a 51-38 lead.

A side effect of these polls is to damage Romney's claim at being the most electable Republican and actually being viable.