Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Romney Rebounds in Florida

And he's being smug about it!

"Romney flexing his strength in Florida" January 30, 2012|By Michael Levenson and Matt Viser

HIALEAH, Fla. - Mitt Romney barreled through South Florida yesterday, bolstered by impressive poll numbers and a strengthening sense he will withstand a backlash from conservatives and Tea Party supporters to win the important Florida primary tomorrow.

Polls indicated that Romney has increased his lead in Florida to double digits, despite rival Newt Gingrich’s last-minute assists from former candidate Herman Cain and former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

Just days ago the race was considered a dead heat; Romney’s surge follows his recent shift in strategy toward personally attacking Gingrich and calling in a roster of establishment figures to rattle his rival.

Yesterday, an increasingly confident Romney openly mocked Gingrich, saying he saw him on television “describing his excuses, and why he wasn’t doing so well here in Florida.’’


"Mitt Romney would get major boost from win today in Florida" by Michael Levenson and Matt Viser   |  Globe Staff, January 31, 2012

DUNEDIN, Fla. - A confident Mitt Romney switched from scorn to pity yesterday, telling voters it was pathetic to see Newt Gingrich on the verge of a humiliating loss in today’s Florida primary. Voters began heading to the polls at 7 a.m. today.

“It’s sad,’’ Romney told a crowd of hundreds gathered under a relentless sun in a park in this coastal city 25 miles west of Tampa. “He’s been flailing around a bit trying to go after me for one thing or the other. You just watch it and you shake your head. It’s been kind of painfully revealing to watch.’’

Vastly outspent and buried under an avalanche of attack ads, Gingrich denounced Romney as a truth-twisting liberal as he sought to rally conservatives and Tea Party supporters in his final appeal to Florida voters.

“With your help, we’re going to win a great victory tomorrow,’’ Gingrich told a small but boisterous crowd in a Tampa airport hangar. “And when we win a great victory tomorrow, we’ll have sent a signal to [the liberal billionaire] George Soros, to Goldman Sachs, and to the entire New York and Washington establishment: Money power can’t buy people power.’’

But Gingrich’s prospects do not look bright.

A Quinnipiac University poll released yesterday showed Romney with a 14-point lead in Florida, up from 9 points three days earlier. Romney had the support of 43 percent of the state’s likely Republican voters, to Gingrich’s 29 percent, while Ron Paul and Rick Santorum had 11 percent each, the poll found. Only 7 percent were undecided, although 24 percent said they could change their minds.

The survey also indicated that Romney has wooed a broad swath of the Republican electorate, including groups that had been cool to him. According to the poll, he now leads Gingrich among conservatives, white evangelical Christians, and Tea Party movement members.

A win today would give Romney a major boost as the race scatters to the seven states that vote over the next month. Florida’s haul - 50 winner-take-all delegates - is more than any candidate has accumulated in the first three contests....


Also see: Fight For Florida

Update: Romney wins Florida

Romney's Reminisce

"Much unsaid as Mitt Romney cites his tie to Mexico" by Michael Kranish  |  Globe Staff, January 31, 2012

MIAMI - Mitt Romney, who rarely discusses his ancestry, has repeated a striking comment in Florida in recent days to soften his rhetoric about immigration and woo the crucial Hispanic voting bloc.

“My dad was born in Mexico,’’ Romney says at many campaign stops, as he expresses empathy and solidarity with immigrant families. It follows sharp rhetoric in places such as Iowa, where he decried what he called efforts to provide “amnesty’’ to the nation’s 12 million illegal immigrants.  

Then why was he allowed to run for president?

The story of Romney’s father, George, is one that many Cuban-Americans can relate to in this city of immigrants: A revolution sweeps through the homeland, prompting an exodus of people who, in many cases, left behind everything to come to the United States. But in this case, George Romney’s country of birth was Mexico, not Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

The issue of immigration is especially sensitive in Florida, where Hispanics make up 11 percent of the Republican primary electorate, and could provide the key to victory in today’s primary. Romney’s chief challenger, Newt Gingrich, has called Romney anti-immigrant; Romney said the charge was repulsive.

It is in this context that Romney has mentioned that he is the child of a born-in-Mexico father. But he usually ends the story there, failing to explain the circumstances or, even more strikingly, why it might be relevant to those he is trying to win over.

Were he to tell the rest of the story, it doubtless would resonate with many here: George Romney was born in Mexico and was 5 years old when a revolution forced his family members in 1912 to flee their Mormon colony and seek refuge in the United States. The Mormon exiles lost their homes, farms, and most of their belongings, were welcomed by the United States, and benefited from a $100,000 refugee fund established by Congress.

But there are other elements to the Romney story that may explain why he doesn’t tell the full tale on the campaign trail. The reason that George was born in Mexico is that his grandfather - Mitt’s great-grandfather - had taken refuge there in order to escape US laws against polygamy. It was this family patriarch, Miles Park Romney, who established the colony and lived there with four wives.

Mitt Romney has decried what he has called the “awful’’ practice of polygamy and has never visited the colony, even though several dozen of his cousins continue to live there.

Romney’s new emphasis on his father’s roots drew the attention yesterday of a host on “Fox and Friends,’’ who said during an interview with Romney that it was the first time he had heard the former Massachusetts governor discuss that aspect of his ancestry....

Romney’s discussion of his father’s Mexican birth has prompted rounds of discussion in online forums about how his father, when he ran for president in 1968, could have met the constitutional requirement that a president be a “natural-born citizen.’’

In George Romney’s case, representatives of his 1968 presidential campaign argued that he fit the constitutional requirement because George’s parents, who had gone back and forth from the United States to Mexico, were US citizens.

Accounts published during the campaign indicate that questions were beginning to be raised, but the matter became moot when George Romney dropped out of the race.

A Congressional Research Report published last November that explores the issue said the Constitution did not define what it means to be a “natural-born citizen,’’ and notes that competing views were expressed when George Romney declared his candidacy.

Seth Lipsky, the author of “The Citizen’s Constitution: An Annotated Guide,’’ said that “in most past cases, Congress and the courts have been reluctant to open up doubts raised about candidates, and I think this reluctance is wise.’’

Yeah, the hell with what the governing document of the country says.   

Don't get me wrong, readers; I'm not a birther regarding Obama (his real father is Frank Davis), and am aware that McCain was born in Panama.

What bothers me about the citizenship requirement is that the founders had a good reason for putting that in there, and I agree. No foreign-born citizen should be president of the United States.  Back then it was because of the houses of royalty within Europe; now the threat comes from dual-national Israelis.


Related: Breaking News: Mitt Romney Was Born in Mexico

Then he's ineligible!

Romney Remembers the 2000 Campaign

He just doesn't remember for whom he voted.

"Romney attacks on Gingrich similar to Bush-McCain 2000" by Glen Johnson  |  Globe Staff, January 31, 2012

MIAMI - Newt Gingrich complains Mitt Romney has waged the nastiest, most untruthful campaign he can recall after he upset the heretofore GOP presidential front-runner in South Carolina.

He should dial the time machine back to 2000 and talk to John McCain.

George W. Bush, stunned by an 18-point New Hampshire primary loss to McCain, waged a scorched-earth campaign that year against him in, of all places, South Carolina. Now Romney, employing a campaign with striking parallels, is on the cusp of the same kind of agenda-setting win in Florida today that Bush scored 12 years ago.

Bush viewed South Carolina as his political firewall, much as Romney has viewed Florida in his quest for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

With such make-or-break stakes, the then-governor of Texas abandoned all sense of decorum and accused McCain of flouting his own campaign finance rules. He also stood idly by while a surrogate speaker suggested the former Vietnam prisoner of war had abandoned fellow veterans.

During the past 10 days, Romney has taken on Gingrich with equal zeal, accusing him of being an “influence-peddler’’ and of lacking the temperament to be president. And the former Massachusetts governor, too, has stood by while surrogates have bird-dogged the former House speaker at his campaign events.

In 2000, the turn of events was enough to prompt the famously maverick McCain to complain: “All of the establishment is against me, and I’m proud of it. If you want business as usual, you don’t want me as president.’’

Gingrich has said virtually the same thing in Florida.

“There’s so many tomahawks in the air that you don’t have time to deal with them all,’’ said John Weaver, who was a top McCain adviser in 2000 and recently ran the campaign of Republican candidate Jon Huntsman.

“I think the mistake we made, and Newt is making, is you start talking about process and what the other guys are doing, and not talking about the positive vision that made people like you in the first place,’’ said Weaver.

Former Bush adviser Stuart Stevens, now plotting Romney’s campaign, did not return a call seeking comment. But another Bush adviser, Mark McKinnon, who is unaligned in the current campaign, said: “They both learned that the only way to win is pedal to the metal around the clock. Any time you let up, inevitably you pay for it.’’

Bush had won the 2000 Iowa caucuses and headed to New Hampshire confident of a back-to-back victories.

While McCain worked voters with his anti-Washington message and courted reporters aboard his “Straight Talk Express,’’ Bush kept an almost indifferent campaign schedule, complete with a sledding excursion.

Then, on Feb. 1, political adviser Karl Rove gave Bush the results of the first New Hampshire primary exit polls: He was headed for a big loss.

Plans for a campaign sea change began.

Bush flew the next day to Greenville, S.C., a conservative bastion and home of Bob Jones University.

There, in front of 5,500 people assembled in a cavernous hall, he quipped that it “feels a lot warmer here.’’ He then proceeded to underscore his new emphasis by focusing on morality and the military - and by using the word “conservative’’ six times in one minute.

A day later, Bush was flanked by an array of veterans as he attacked McCain’s most distinguishing biographical element - his military service - during a rally on the steps of a courthouse in Sumter.

Bush said there is “a big difference between being somebody who had a distinguished military career and someone who’s trying to lead the country.’’

Then he stood mute as Thomas Burch Jr., chairman of the National Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Coalition, said of McCain: “He came home and forgot us.’’

Foreshadowing the current campaign, McCain and Bush went on to exchange allegations over attack ads.

And similar to Romney’s attacks on Gingrich’s work representing Freddie Mac, Bush accused McCain of betraying his campaign finance credentials by raising money from lobbyists.

Both campaigns also accused the other of “push-polling,’’ trying to seed doubts by asking leading questions that are negative in tone. McCain also railed against phone calls accusing his wife of being a drug addict, of him having an illegitimate daughter, and of him fathering a black child - an allusion to the daughter he adopted from Bangladesh.

The confrontation reached a crescendo in a Columbia, S.C., debate before the primary....

Bush avenged his New Hampshire loss with an 11-point win in South Carolina, won the GOP nomination, and the presidency....  

And the rest, as they say, is history.


Related: Nominating Romney Means Return of Bush 

Yeah, all his future advisers are the same PNAC crowd of W's.

And the old man is behind him, too.

How Gingrich Won South Carolina

The agenda-setting, script-writing string-pullers awarded it to him. 

Here is your MSM narrative:

"In Bible Belt win, Newt Gingrich’s sins were salvation" by Sarah Schweitzer  |  Globe Staff, January 31, 2012

South Carolina’s Greenville County is among the most socially conservative in the country. Home to Bob Jones University, it’s known as the buckle in the Bible Belt.

But in the recent Republican presidential primary, Greenville voters, like the rest of the state, bypassed three long-married candidates and handed votes to Newt Gingrich, confessor of two mistresses, both of whom he eventually took as brides.

“He was a dirtbag before when he was doing those things,’’ said Fletcher Mulnix, a 20-year-old senior at Bob Jones University who grew up in Travelers Rest, 11 miles north. “But he said he went to God and asked for forgiveness and I have to take his word on it.’’

Besides, he added, echoing a common refrain heard in Greenville in the lead-up to the primary, “we’re not electing a pastor.’’

As the presidential contest reaches a critical juncture with the Florida primary today, one question will be whether Gingrich can hold on to social conservative support, with evangelical voters expected to make up as much as a third of the electorate.

Interviews with South Carolina voters suggest that Gingrich’s infidelities and personal issues were, paradoxical as it might seem, dismissed. While evangelical Gingrich-backers found his indiscretions distasteful, they said their faith teaches that to sin is human and what matters most is that man seek forgiveness from God. Gingrich, they said, had shown sincere repentance, clearing the way for them to consider his political strengths.

“There is nothing an evangelical likes more than a penitent sinner and Newt’s been pretty penitent,’’ said Oran Smith, president and chief executive of Palmetto Family, a South Carolina-based evangelical organization that studies public-policy issues.

In this political climate, forgiveness was abundant for the candidate seen as most likely to beat President Obama, he said.

“There is a sense that we are pinned down at the beach in Normandy and we are going to find out if we are going to live or die and the personal characteristics of the general are just not that important right now,’’ Smith said.

Indeed, exit polls in South Carolina showed that evangelical voters backed Gingrich at a higher rate than nonevangelicals, delivering 44 percent of their vote to him. Statewide, Gingrich won 40 percent of the vote.

In South Carolina’s evangelical pockets, some observers said Gingrich’s sins might have boosted him and hurt Mitt Romney.

“Evangelicals recognize brokenness in people and they like it because that means a person is in need of God,’’ said Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College.

By contrast, he said, Mitt Romney’s image of moral perfection makes some evangelicals uncomfortable. “Mitt Romney is too perfect.’’

Steve Prothero, a Boston University religion professor put it this way: “The repentant sinner fits their story more closely than some guy who has been a goody two-shoes all his life.’’

Gingrich himself echoed that theme. In an interview last week with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network, Gingrich said, “I have not hidden from the facts of my life, that I have confessed my weaknesses, and that I have had to go to God for forgiveness and for reconciliation. . . . So, I think in that sense, it may make me more normal than somebody who wanders around seeming perfect and maybe not understanding the human condition.’’

Political observers note an equally remarkable factor in the contest was Gingrich’s win occurred with few mentions of his Catholicism - a religion that prompted evangelical leaders to oppose John F. Kennedy in 1960.

Indeed, Gingrich drew roughly the same amount of support from evangelicals as did Mike Huckabee, a Baptist preacher, four years earlier.

To be sure, there were some for whom Gingrich’s indiscretions were too much - a justifiable position, according to Michael Hamlet, pastor at First Baptist North Spartanburg....


Foggy Florida Highway

"Florida highway pileup kills at least 10 people; Interstate 75 was shrouded in haze, smoke" by Mike Schneider  |  Associated Press, January 30, 2012

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - A long line of cars and trucks collided one after another early yesterday on a dark highway so shrouded in haze and smoke that drivers were instantly unable to see the road. At least 10 people were killed.

When rescuers first arrived, they could only listen for screams and moans because the poor visibility made it difficult to find victims in wreckage that was strewn for nearly a mile, police said.

Authorities were still trying to determine what caused the pileup south of Gainesville on Interstate 75, which had been closed for a time because of the mixture of fog and heavy smoke from a brush fire that may have been intentionally set. At least five cars and six tractor-trailers were involved; some burst into flame.

Steven R. Camps of Gainesville said he and some friends were driving home several hours before dawn when they were drawn into the pileup.

“You could hear cars hitting each other. People were crying. People were screaming. It was crazy,’’ he said. “If I could give you an idea of what it looked like, I would say it looked like the end of world.’’


Ludie Bond, a spokeswoman for the Florida Forest Service said the fire had burned 62 acres and was contained but still burning yesterday. A similar fire nearby has been burning since mid-November because the dried vegetation is so thick and deep. No homes are threatened....


Related: Fla. highway reopened minutes before deadly crash

Also see: Florida Fire Spreads to Alabama

"Alabama police find 5 dead in home" Associated Press, January 30, 2012

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Police found five people dead inside a Birmingham home when they arrived early yesterday morning to investigate a possible robbery, authorities said....

Doreatha Moss lived in the house, a white building with green trim now surrounded by police tape, until late 2010. “I don’t know anything about it now other than that there’s all the time a bunch of young guys hanging around there,’’ said Moss, who still returns to visit friends. “That’s not good.’’


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Fight For Florida

"Ron Paul, though he did not get as much airtime as the two front-runners, scolded both for their Latin American policy, saying ‘‘this usually means that we impose ourselves, go and pick the dictators, undermine certain governments, also sending them a lot of money.’’  

He's right, of course, so he's ignored.


"Romney money edge washed away in Fla." January 26, 2012|Brian C. Mooney, Globe Staff

Fueled by the Adelson family’s second $5 million donation to assist Newt Gingrich, spending in the final week of presidential primary campaigning in Florida is expected to top $16 million.

Virtually overnight, the contribution from Miriam Adelson wiped out much of the money edge that Mitt Romney enjoyed in Florida just days ago. Like an earlier $5 million donation from her husband Sheldon, a casino magnate, the latest infusion went to a super PAC supporting Gingrich.

The donation - massive even by today’s inflated standards - provides the most graphic example of how wealthy individuals can have an outsized influence on political campaigns under the new rules since the US Supreme Court decision allowed unlimited donations to political action committees not officially affiliated with a candidate.

It’s not just wealthy GOP donors who have Romney in an unexpectedly close contest. Two labor groups and a pro-Obama super PAC have poured in more than $1 million to attack Romney. The two-front assault has the onetime front-runner from Massachusetts fighting to stave off a devastating defeat in next week’s Florida primary.

“For Romney, if he doesn’t win Florida, his campaign may pretty much be over, and Gingrich is looking for a knockout punch,’’ said Darryl Paulson, professor emeritus of government at the University of South Florida. “They will do whatever it takes to win.’’

The Adelsons’ $10 million to the pro-Gingrich super PAC is, while generous, not a record contribution from one family. It is, for example, far short of the $23.7 million billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros contributed in the 2004 election cycle to Democratic and liberal organizations. But those groups, known as 527s after the section of the tax code under which they operated, had restrictions on the timing and content of their electioneering messages. Those constraints were eliminated by the recent US Supreme Court ruling.

The Adelsons’ contributions to the pro-Gingrich super PAC have kept him in the ad war in Florida, an expensive venture by any campaign standard.

Winning Our Future, the super PAC backing Gingrich, says it will spend $6 million before next Tuesday in Florida, though as of yesterday the organization had purchased less than $3 million in broadcast, cable, radio, and Internet ads. A flight of ads mixing spots critical of Romney and promoting Gingrich was scheduled to start running today.

Rick Tyler, a spokesman for the super PAC, said that the total spending of $6 million would be on a variety of media, including Internet and social media, and that reports would be filed with the Federal Election Commission as early as today.

Gingrich and the Adelsons have been friends for many years and share a passion for the security of Israel. Last September, Forbes magazine rated Adelson the eighth-wealthiest American, with an estimated net worth of $21.5 billion built from casinos in Las Vegas, Singapore, and the Macao district of China.

Until now, the Romney campaign and an allied super PAC, Restore Our Future, had dominated the Florida airwaves, outspending the Gingrich campaign and its friendly super PAC by a more than 20-to-1 ratio dating back to December....

The Romney campaign may be getting some help in Florida from an unlikely source, a super PAC supporting Ron Paul, who is basically bypassing Florida. Endorse Liberty announced it will spend $1.4 million in Florida with what appears to be a mix of ads boosting Paul and attacking Gingrich, initial reports filed with the Federal Election Commission indicate.

Paul’s campaign is concentrating on caucus states and open primaries where independents can vote. Only Republicans may vote in the upcoming Florida contest....


"GOP rivals make cases to Hispanics in Florida" January 28, 2012|By Glen Johnson

DORAL, Fla. - Hispanics, especially Cuban-Americans and Puerto Ricans, are being wooed by all four GOP candidates heading into Tuesday’s Florida primary....

Gingrich, repeating some of the promises he made earlier to a Latin Builders Association meeting in Miami, told the crowd he would reorient the US vision from the Middle East to points south.  

Talk about pandering!

He not only urged the US military to move supervision of Mexico from its Northern Command headquarters in Nebraska to Southern Command in Miami, but he also called for rallying opposition to Fidel Castro in Cuba and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela....

Earlier, during his appearance before the Latin Builders Association, Gingrich called on Congress to immediately pass a part of the Dream Act that would put the children of illegal immigrants on a special path to becoming US citizens if they serve in the nation’s armed forces.

“I think there is no opposition to that part of the Dream Act,’’ he said. “I think it should go through immediately.’’

Those are the troops that will be marching south!

The Florida-based trade association is heavily populated by Cuban-Americans....

Cubans would be less affected than other Hispanics by either Dream Act change because they get special residency status if they flee the island and reach US shores.

The builders later endorsed Rick Santorum, who spoke after Gingrich....


Also see:

Romney's returns open a window on the wealthy

Romney aides explain trusts

"Romney leads in Fla., but obstacles loom large; Campaign heeds lessons learned in 2008 failure" by Michael Kranish,  |  Globe Staff, January 29, 2012

MIAMI - Florida’s voters effectively ended Mitt Romney’s presidential dream four years ago. He won in only about one-third of the 67 counties, gained the support of only 9 percent of Cuban Americans, rejected advice from local advisers, and misplayed the ideological landscape.

 Now the political battlefield, the issues, and the competition are different - but the stakes in Tuesday’s vote are even higher as the one-time front-runner battles to regain his primacy against the candidate who has emerged as his chief challenger, Newt Gingrich. After Romney was sent reeling by Gingrich’s victory a week ago in South Carolina, he has used a barrage of attacks in debates and television commercials to pull ahead in several recent Florida polls.

In order to win, analysts said, Romney must find a way to pick up support in what are considered several states within the state. There are swaths of traditionally conservative areas that may be most hospitable to Gingrich; condos filled with snowbirds from the north and Midwest that could be tilted to Romney; economically distressed suburbs and cities along the state’s midsection that are up for grabs; and a Hispanic community that is diverse and divided.

Until just a few weeks ago, Romney’s team thought it had everything in its favor in Florida. Romney had spent millions of dollars on television campaign ads, versus nearly nothing from Gingrich. But Gingrich’s 11th-hour support from a pro-Gingrich super PAC and his own recent fund-raising success may have cut into that advantage....

The result is that Romney and Gingrich go into Tuesday’s primary on a more even playing field than either anticipated, with Rick Santorum striving to hang on and Ron Paul mostly focusing elsewhere. Romney now hopes his early advantage in organization and money, an expected edge among absentee ballots cast before Gingrich won South Carolina, and his forceful debate performance Thursday will give him an advantage.

Brett Doster, the senior adviser of Romney’s Florida operation, said in an interview that the campaign has worked for months to gear messages to the diverse constituencies of the state. “We have the right message and the right kind of organization to take Mitt Romney’s message to every corner of Florida,’’ Doster said in an interview.

Yet Romney’s second-place finish in Florida in 2008 demonstrates how large his challenge may be. Romney lost by a 36-to-31-percent margin to Senator John McCain of Arizona and dropped out of the race after a lackluster showing in primaries held a week later. His top Florida advisers complained later that they had been ordered by Boston strategists to write seven campaign plans and that their suggestions on how to spend money had been rejected by the Boston team. Romney’s strongest areas then were around Jacksonville, in counties north of Orlando, and along affluent sections of the Gulf coast. But he lost by nearly 2-to-1 margins in much of southern Florida and trailed even farther behind in some counties bordering Georgia, where his state team had wanted more money to be spent. He picked up only 14 percent of the Hispanic vote, including just 9 percent of the Cuban-American vote, according to exit polls.

For Gingrich, the political landscape presents some unique opportunities. Gingrich hopes to win easily in rural areas and in the Panhandle that borders Georgia and Alabama, as well as among Tea Party movement members and working-class voters in cities and suburbs that have been hard hit economically.

Unlike four years ago, when the focus was on foreign policy, terrorism, and social issues, this election is mostly about economic concerns in a state with a 9.9 percent unemployment rate and a high number of home foreclosures.  

Focus was on that? Not the way I remember it.

Much of the pro-Gingrich super PAC’s money is being spent to convince Floridians that Gingrich is the true conservative in the race while trying to persuade the Republican Party base that Romney is too moderate. That is the inverse of the challenge Romney faced in 2008. In that campaign, Romney’s strategy was to win over conservatives and hope that two key rivals, Senator John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, split the more moderate vote. The strategy failed when Giuliani’s campaign disintegrated and Mike Huckabee drew away some of the conservative vote that Romney was counting on.

“In 2008, Romney faced two moderate Republicans, and this time he is facing a real conservative,’’ Rick Tyler, a former Gingrich spokesman who is overseeing the pro-Gingrich super PAC, said in an interview.

At the same time, analysts said, the Gingrich campaign has positioned itself slightly to the left of Romney on issues that are important to key groups of Floridians, including Medicare and immigration. On other issues, such as Gingrich’s proposal to build a colony on the moon, Romney has accused him of pandering to state interests.

“Gingrich has been extremely attentive to the push-button issues among various groups,’’ said Susan MacManus, professor of political science at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Tyler put it more bluntly: “You would have to be an idiot if you are running for president and not be aware of the state’s concerns.’’

For example, Gingrich courted senior citizens in the debate last Monday when he boasted about his role pushing for passage of a Medicare program that helped senior citizens buy prescription drugs, known as Part D. “I’ll say this in Florida: I’m proud of the fact that I publicly, openly advocated Medicare Part D. It has saved lives,’’ Gingrich said. About 3.3 million of Florida’s 18.5 million residents are enrolled in Medicare.

But some conservatives have said the prescription drug program was a mistake, in part because Congress didn’t provide for a way to pay for it and it has bloated the deficit. Romney called Gingrich’s support of the prescription plan “influence peddling’’ because he was working for health companies at the time, and Romney has been critical of the cost of the program.

Romney and Gingrich are also vying for the votes of Hispanics, who make up about 11 percent of registered Republicans. A poll by Latino Decisions released last week showed that Romney is making progress compared to four years ago; he led among Hispanic Republicans by a 49-to-26-percent margin over Gingrich.

Romney also must convince voters he is a true conservative. In 2008, he was the winner among Florida voters who said in polls that they were “very conservative.’’ But this time, Gingrich, Santorum, and Paul all seek such votes. A potential problem for Romney is that independents, who typically are more moderate than registered Republicans, cannot vote under Florida’s rules.

The contest could be determined by a factor that didn’t exist in 2008: the Tea Party movement. Romney, who has run as a Washington outsider even though he is embraced by much of the Republican establishment, has kept a wary eye on the antiestablishment Tea Party. Gingrich, even though he was an insider as speaker of the House and consultant to Freddie Mac, has run as an outsider who embraces the Tea Party message.

Florida voters in 2010 rejected a moderate Republican candidate for governor, Bill McCollum, and elected Tea Party favorite Rick Scott of the GOP. But Scott’s success provides a mixed message for the Republican presidential candidates. He is both a very wealthy former businessman, like Romney, and a fiery grass-roots candidate, like Gingrich. Scott - like other key players such as Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, former governor - has remained neutral in the race, underscoring the uncertainty that voters must resolve on Tuesday.


"Rivals keep sniping as Florida vote nears; Surrogates on attack as well in 2-man fight" by Matt Viser and Michael Levenson  |  Globe Staff, January 29, 2012

PANAMA CITY, Fla. - Newt Gingrich launched a frontal attack on Mitt Romney’s integrity yesterday as the former Massachusetts governor, content to let a barrage of ads and a growing cadre of Republican lawmakers blast away at Gingrich, reached out to voters to help him reestablish the primacy of his candidacy with a win Tuesday in Florida.

“You cannot debate somebody who is dishonest,’’ Gingrich told reporters, in explaining his lackluster performance in Thursday’s debate. “I can’t debate somebody who won’t tell the truth.’’

Then stop debating yourself.

Gingrich’s attempt to splatter the core of Romney’s image echoes his most recent ad, which refers to him as untrustworthy, and is expected to be a focus of his efforts to regain his footing in Florida after a pair of weak debate performances and sagging poll numbers. With its winner-take-all 50 delegates at stake, the primary probably will determine whether Romney regains an aura of invincibility or whether the race to the nomination becomes a drawn-out battle of attrition.

The primary has become a two-man contest between Romney and Gingrich, with several prominent former and current Republican lawmakers continuing to pummel the former House speaker as an erratic leader who would undercut the party’s chances to unseat President Obama in the fall.

That effort has spawned a backlash by anti-Washington Tea Party supporters, including former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who last night said in an online post that the GOP establishment were cannibals seeking to “kneecap’’ Gingrich.

Also last night, former rival Herman Cain, who dropped out late last year amid several accusations of unwanted sexual advances, endorsed Gingrich. The former Godfather’s Pizza executive said Gingrich was the right person to address the “crisis of leadership in the White House.’’ 

Of the other two candidates, former senator Rick Santorum returned to his home in Pennsylvania and Representative Ron Paul is focusing on caucus states that vote next month, a strategy that plays to his strength of passionate supporters and a strong organization....

Romney was joined at the Fish House restaurant in military-rich Pensacola by an unusual trio of actor Jon Voight, Senator John McCain, and Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia. Both Voight, a noted conservative, and McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, were unsparing in their assessment of Gingrich.

“I do not understand - do you? - why anyone would attack a person who’s successful in business, in the free enterprise system!’’ McCain said, alluding to Gingrich’s criticism of Romney’s career at Bain Capital....

Meanwhile, the campaign by many Republicans to paint Gingrich as alarmingly ill-suited to be president continued. At one of Gingrich’s events, at a putting green at the PGA Museum of Golf in Port St. Lucie, Romney sent three Republican members of the US House - Charlie Bass of New Hampshire, Connie Mack of Florida, and Mack’s wife, Mary Bono Mack of California - to serve as his own “truth squad.’’

“He’s a great thinker and a great historian,’’ said Bass, who served when Gingrich was speaker. “But the president is an administrator, not a philosopher. And a lot of times, he has to make decisions about hiring and firing. And Newt is a thinker, and it isn’t a fit.’’

R.C. Hammond, Gingrich’s spokesman, confronted both Bass and Connie Mack, sparring with them as reporters held out their audio recorders.

“Congressman, did you regret asking Newt for his endorsement earlier this year?’’ Hammond asked Bass. “He wrote a very nice op-ed in one of your papers asking that you be reelected.’’

Bass just smiled and said it was good to see Hammond, who is from New Hampshire.

Asked about the members of Congress bird-dogging his events, Gingrich said it does not reflect well on Romney....  


"Gingrich shows strength in conservative North Florida" by Michael Levenson  |  Globe Staff, January 29, 2012

MACCLENNY, Fla. - Far from the Cuban cafes and Art Deco nightspots of Miami sits this rural county seat named for a Confederate senator, where locals like bass fishing and dirt-track auto racing and identify more as Southerners than as Floridians.

“This isn’t Florida,’’ said Travis Barton, who owns Trav’s Barber Shop, a spacious strip-mall establishment where the mounted head of a deer that he shot greets patrons and the television is tuned to Fox News. “This is south Georgia.’’

Mitt Romney won deeply conservative Baker County in the 2008 Republican primary. But back then, he was running to the right of John McCain. Now, it is Newt Gingrich who may have the upper hand here, thanks to his Georgia roots and fiercely populist pitch. Romney’s Mormonism also concerns many in the heavily Baptist and Pentecostal county.

Like South Carolina, which Gingrich won, North Florida is a conservative proving ground and a barometer of the party’s passions. Winning the region is considered crucial if Gingrich is to carry the state on Tuesday and overtake Romney in the race for the nomination.

Stretching from the Gulf Coast city of Pensacola in the panhandle to Jacksonville on the Atlantic, the area includes liberal Tallahassee yet is still one of the most Republican regions of the state, where Tea Party movement activists and Christian conservatives play an outsized role in elections.

In Macclenny, the seat of Baker County, 30 miles west of Jacksonville, Gingrich is the talk of the town. Lois Adcock, who works at Studio One salon, estimated that 8 out of 10 of her customers - who include cattle ranchers, corrections officers at nearby Florida State Prison, and laborers at Northeast Florida State Hospital - are voting for the former House speaker.

“I would say Newt Gingrich would have the pull in Baker County, based on what I see and what I hear,’’ Adcock said during a cigarette break.

Unlike Romney, she said, “Newt can talk on both levels, because in Baker County, you don’t have a lot of wealth. You’ve got a few, but we’re more just everyday workers, middle-class people. And I think he cares about the middle class.’’

The county’s unemployment rate is 10.4 percent, compared to 9.9 percent in the state as a whole and 8.5 percent nationally. This month, the Food Lion grocery store announced it was closing, forcing 38 employees to scramble for new work. Downtown, some shops are plastered with “For Rent’’ signs.

“Nobody in Washington cares about the poor people!’’ said Lou Webber Sr., 78, pounding his fist on the counter in his auto shop, Webber Tire, where business is down 35 percent since last year.

Many worry that an effort by state lawmakers to privatize Northeast Florida State Hospital, the county’s largest employer, could lead to job cuts there. The Baker County Chamber of Commerce has been fighting the effort, despite its probusiness inclinations....

Ringed by fast food outlets and chain stores, Macclenny’s streets rumble with pickup trucks, and its small downtown includes a Christian thrift store, a Dixie Outfitters shop selling camouflage hats and Confederate flag T-shirts, and a Bargain Channel radio station where listeners can buy giant cans of boiled peanuts and discounted jewelry.

In 2008, Romney won Baker County, easily beating McCain, Mike Huckabee, and Rudy Giuliani. In the general election, McCain carried the county with a whopping 78 percent of the vote, compared to 21 percent for Barack Obama. Of Florida’s 67 counties, only two others gave McCain a larger margin of victory.

These days, Romney has not stirred much interest in the city of 14,000.

“There’s something about him that just doesn’t pan out,’’ Adcock said. “I don’t know if it’s his faith that worries me, because I don’t know anything about the Mormons. But he just doesn’t interest me, even when I listen to him. Newt does.’’

Barton said his customers don’t care that Romney has a stable family while Gingrich has a history of marital infidelity.

“They’d rather forgive a Christian for all his dishonest relationships than go with a Mormon,’’ he said. “North Florida is the Bible Belt.’’


Romney’s strength in the area lies in Jacksonville, the financial heart of the region, and St. Augustine, a resort haven, which have more “Chamber of Commerce Republicans’’ than the rural communities of North Florida, said Matthew T. Corrigan, chairman of the political science department at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.

Romney, he said, has tapped into former governor Jeb Bush’s fund-raising networks in the area, rounding up prominent backers such as John D. Rood, a wealthy Jacksonville investor and former ambassador to the Bahamas.

“Romney has financial connections here, in terms of fund-raising, he has an electoral history here, and if he doesn’t win here, I think it’s going to be a tough day for him,’’ Corrigan said of North Florida.

One Romney supporter in Macclenny, Tom Rumsey, an 82-year-old retired activities director at Northeast Florida State Hospital, said he likes the former Massachusetts governor’s combination of business and government experience.

He said he was dismayed, but not surprised, that Romney’s Mormonism is a stumbling block in the community.

A Pennsylvania native, Rumsey recalled that when he started working at the hospital more than two decades ago, two employees threatened to “take me out’’ because he was not from the area.

“There is prejudice here - it’s all over the country - but here it’s just more blatant,’’ he said. “It’s changing, but it’s a slow process.’’

Like a lot of small communities in North Florida that vote Republican in presidential elections, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in Macclenny. That is a vestige of the era before Civil Rights, when conservative Democrats ruled the South. Since the 1980s, when the Democratic Party began embracing abortion rights and gay rights, Republicans have been gaining here.


“Historically, the rural South has been registered Democrat, and it’s taken people a while to get around and change their registration,’’ said Donald Marshall, chairman of the Baker County Republican Party. “For the most part, the people that live in Baker County are extremely conservative, and that’s the way they vote.’’

As the primary draws near, interest in the race is rising. About 100 voters a day have been streaming into the local elections office, in a former bank, to cast early ballots. On Wednesday, Dorothy Horton, 64, cast her vote for Gingrich. She made up her mind during the last debate in South Carolina, when Gingrich blasted CNN host John King for asking about his marital history.

Gingrich “got a little bit angry,’’ and showed “he’s somebody who’s going to fight for us,’’ Horton said.

“I was in the living room with my husband,’’ she said, “and I said, ‘I got my man.’ ’’


Related: Mitt Romney jumps ahead in Florida

The Republican presidential candidate has a double-digit lead in Florida with the primary just two days away, new polls show.

Also see: Romney could have edge with Fla.'s early, absentee voters

Mitt Voted For Massachusetts Democrat

It could be the issue that decides the nomination!

"GOP rivals make cases to Hispanics in Florida" January 28, 2012|By Glen Johnson

Yesterday, Gingrich began running an ad in Florida criticizing Romney’s explanation during Thursday’s debate of his vote for Paul Tsongas in the 1992 Democratic presidential primary. Romney undercut his credibility when he tried to distance himself from that vote by saying, “I’ve never voted for a Democrat when there was a Republican on the ballot,’’ Romney said. “I have always voted for a Republican any time there was a Republican on the ballot.’’

The reality is that there was a Republican presidential primary in Massachusetts in 1992 between President George H.W. Bush and Pat Buchanan.

Furthermore, the answer was the latest evolution in Romney’s explanation about the vote.  

This guy can't help but lie when he opens his mouth.

When first asked as a 1994 US Senate candidate about records showing him voting in the 1992 Democratic primary, Romney said he could not recall for whom he voted.

Then Romney told the Globe he voted for Tsongas because he preferred his ideas to his then-opponent for the nomination, Bill Clinton. Later, he added that it was proof he was not a partisan politician.

Yet in 2007, while making his first run for president, Romney offered a new explanation: He said he voted for Tsongas as a tactical maneuver, aiming to present the “weakest opponent’’ possible for Bush.


Slow Saturday Special: Delahunt's Deal

As a congressman, William D. Delahunt helped Hull win $1.7 million in federal earmarks for an offshore energy program.

Now, a year after the Quincy Democrat left office, his new consulting firm stands to receive $72,000 from the same pot of money under a no-bid contract Hull has offered for strategic guidance on the project.

Both sides insist there is no conflict of interest, but the South Shore town has asked the US Department of Energy for its seal of approval, anticipating complaints about a revolving-door relationship.  

And Delahunt was supposed to be one of the good ones. 

 Hull’s town manager said he has received verbal approval, but is awaiting written word.

Government watchdog groups have already rendered their verdict.

“It may not be illegal, it may not be unethical, but it’s certainly another reason why taxpayers hold Congress and its members in such low esteem right now,’’ said Tom Schatz of Citizens Against Government Waste, a Washington-based group focused on earmarks. “It just adds to the perception that members are out to help themselves and not the taxpayers.’’

Mary Boyle, national spokeswoman for Common Cause, said: “This looks like a self-made golden parachute. He appears to be another in a long line of people who leave Congress to cash in. It obviously raises the question of whether he had this in mind when he left Congress and who was he advocating for: his constituents, or himself?’’


Delahunt also was not immediately reachable for comment, but a top aide said he is not trying to cash in on his congressional service, only to offer his expertise to Hull.

“I think what’s been spun out there is that somehow we’ve been hired by the town to lobby, and that’s not true,’’ said Mark Forest, who served as Delahunt’s congressional chief of staff and is executive director of The Delahunt Group.

“We’re not lobbying; we’re providing guidance and counsel to the town,’’ said Forest. “And over the years, we’ve had a lot of experience in this area. And our hope is that there is something productive that can be done in this area.’’

Federal databases show Delahunt as the lone sponsor of two earmarks during his final two years in office for an offshore wind project sought by the Hull Municipal Light Plant, a town-operated utility. Earmarks are legislative provisions channeling federal money to a specific project, often derided as “pork-barrel’’ spending.

After they were targeted by Tea Party Republicans in Congress, a two-year moratorium was placed on them last February.

Delahunt’s first earmark, in 2009, was for $951,500. The second, in 2010, was for $750,000. His link to the two earmarks came through disclosure reforms instituted after his fellow Democrats regained control of the House in 2006.

In each case, the funding was provided by the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program. On both occasions, it was aimed at helping the light plant assess the prospects of generating power at an offshore wind farm akin to the Cape Wind project planned for Nantucket Sound.

Philip Lemnios, Hull’s town manager, said local leaders concluded last spring that building a wind-driven power plant would be too expensive, so they decided instead to consider building a wind-turbine test facility. Turbines convert kinetic energy from the wind into mechanical energy that is then converted into electricity.

Lemnios said he deemed Delahunt and his firm to be the most capable source of advice on that strategic shift. The Delahunt Group will be paid $15,000 a month for six months under the proposed contract, for a total of $90,000.

Eighty percent of the money will come from the Energy Department earmarks. The remaining 20 percent will come from the light plant.

“He didn’t lobby for it; he didn’t come in and inform the town that he was looking for this work,’’ Lemnios said. “I was aware that he had formed a group, and as I thought about how to move the project forward, I thought about him and brought him to the [light plant] board.’’


Delahunt is already lobbying on other matters at the state level, announcing last March that he would represent the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe on state and federal casino gambling issues.


Related: Delahunt won't take earmark money

"A big Delahunt footprint in Keating’s new district" January 26, 2012|By Frank Phillips

US Representative William R. Keating took a political risk when he moved from Quincy to Cape Cod to run in a newly configured congressional district. That decision put the first-term congressman in the middle of a potentially tough Democratic primary fight.

But that is only part of his problem.

Keating finds himself shadow boxing with another powerful Democratic political figure: former congressman and one-time Norfolk district attorney, William D. Delahunt.

Neither will publicly acknowledge their feud, but political observers familiar with the bad blood between the two say it is as acute as it is long-running.

In recent months, Delahunt has privately met with Keating’s potential Democratic rivals in the new district....


Slow Saturday Special: Colorado Cares

"Colo. reevaluates child care rules; Regulations are out of control, GOP argues" by Ivan Moreno  |  Associated Press, January 28, 2012

DENVER - Talk about red tape: Last year, Colorado’s Department of Human Services proposed regulating child care businesses down to the number of crayons per box and the color of dolls children can play with.

Also included: How many books child care centers should have, limits on computer and TV time, and bans on “googly eyes’’ and cotton balls, considered potential choking hazards.

Republicans in the Legislature say it highlights out-of-control government - and they introduced a bill yesterday limiting how far the state can go when it comes to regulating child care.

“This one is at the top of my list because it seems so contrary to what the governor has been saying he wants the state agencies to do,’’ said Senator Kevin Lundberg, a Republican. “I expected the governor, when he found out about it, to say, ‘Whoa, hold on a minute - this isn’t what I had in mind’ - and to pull the plug. But he hasn’t.’’

The state says it is backing off some of the more controversial proposals but is still in the process of drafting dozens of pages of new rules for more than 1,300 licensed child care centers and more than 800 licensed preschools.

“We continue to support the Department of Human Services as it works through a public process on the proposed regulations,’’ the office of Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said in a statement.

Some child care providers say they worry excessive rules will put them out of business. And Lundberg, who is sponsoring the legislation, said he wants to ensure that the state only regulates health and safety matters.

Department spokeswoman Liz McDonough said new rules are needed because child care has evolved and is not just about putting children in front of the television for eight hours....

What's wrong with watching television?


"Denver tries to fix mistaken-ID arrests" January 23, 2012

DENVER - Denver officials, facing criticism for hundreds of mistaken-identity arrests, say they plan to tighten procedures to make sure they have the right suspect before a person is booked....


Fire and Ice in Montana

"Wind gusts carry Montana wildfires" associated press, January 06, 2012

BROWNING, Mont. - A pair of rare winter wildfires fueled by 60-mile-per-hour gusts burned buildings and forced hundreds from their homes on Montana’s Blackfeet Indian Reservation, but better weather conditions yesterday helped firefighters get a handle on the blazes....

“It’s probably the biggest grass fire in reservation history,’’ tribal spokesman Wayne Smith said. “It was just a wall of fire heading east.’’


"A dog that was feared dead after he was swept away in a weekend avalanche that killed his owner showed up four days later at the Montana motel where his owners had stayed the night before going backcountry skiing....

And he is a cute little fella!


"A bus crashed yesterday on an icy interstate highway in southwestern Montana, killing two people and sending more than 30 others to area hospitals, officials said....


"Plains deer herds hit hard by disease" Associated Press, January 09, 2012

BILLINGS, Mont. - White-tailed deer populations in parts of eastern Montana and elsewhere in the Northern Plains could take years to recover from a devastating disease that killed thousands of the animals in recent months, wildlife officials and hunting outfitters said.

In northeast Montana, officials said 90 percent or more of whitetail have been killed along a 100-mile stretch of the Milk River from Malta to east of Glasgow.

Whitetail deaths also have been reported along the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers in western North Dakota and eastern Montana and scattered sites in Wyoming, South Dakota, and eastern Kansas.

The deaths are being attributed to an outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease. Transmitted by biting midges, the disease causes internal bleeding that can kill infected animals within just a few days.

“I’ve been here 21 years and it was worse than any of us here have seen,’’ said Pat Gunderson, the Glasgow-based regional supervisor for Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. “Right now it’s going to take a few years to get things back to even a moderate population.’’

In North Dakota, state wildlife chief Randy Kreil described the outbreak as the most extensive and deadly in two decades.

Mule deer, bighorn sheep, elk, and pronghorn also are susceptible to the disease, but it is particularly damaging to whitetail herds, animal health experts said.

Researchers say the virus that causes the disease does not infect people and there is no risk of eating or handling infected deer.

More precise estimates of the number of whitetail killed are expected after agencies conduct winter population counts and survey fall hunter success.

Periodic outbreaks of the disease occur in whitetail herds across the country. Wildlife officials say the Northern Plains outbreak stands out for the high number of deaths and wide area affected.

Animal health experts suspect it was triggered by an exceptionally wet spring that led to more of the biting midges that carry the disease. A warm fall meant the midges lingered and continued transmitting the disease to the deer.


Also seeYellowstone wolves help trees rebound, study says

Painting the Globe With a Broad Brush

"Broad Institute, with $32.5 million gift, launching center to study human cells" by Mary Carmichael, Globe Staff

Scientists are launching an ambitious effort to diagram how the human genome controls cells by tracing the chemical pathways it uses to send instructions zinging through them like balls in a pinball machine.

The Broad Institute, a biomedical research juggernaut in Cambridge that is affiliated with Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, announced today a $32.5 million gift from the Klarman Family Foundation to open a “Cell Observatory.” The center will allow researchers from Boston and around the world to investigate the molecular contents – not just the genes, but also the many chemicals that interact with them – of different human cell types, using large-scale techniques available only in advanced labs. 

There is money out there, Americans.

“When people want to look at the stars, they reserve time in observatories to do their measurements and analyze the data,” said Aviv Regev, the project’s lead researcher. “There are many types of cells out there, and you need expertise to observe and analyze them, too. This would be a place where instead of looking at constellations in the sky, people could look at constellations in the cells.”

The ultimate goal is to catalog all the biochemical circuits inside human cells and to determine which configurations lead to disease. It is a task that could take a lifetime to complete, like deciphering who is whispering what to whom in thousands of simultaneous games of “telephone.”

Seth Klarman, the Boston hedge fund manager whose foundation is underwriting the project’s first phase, is known for making careful bets and winning them big. (Though little-known to the general public, he is a star among financial analysts, who buy copies of his lone, out-of-print book for thousands of dollars on Amazon.)

His family’s foundation, chaired by his wife Beth, has supported biomedical science before. It funds one of the nation’s largest centers for research on eating disorders at McLean Hospital in Belmont. Klarman also sits alongside Nobel laureates on the Broad Institute’s board....

Several other major research institutions, including the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York, the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, and the University of California, San Diego are considering similar plans. There is talk of a “Human Circuit Project” in which centers would coordinate and share data as they did in sequencing the first human genome....

In theory there are more possible configurations of genetically-driven networks than there are atoms in the universe (in reality there are probably just hundreds or thousands).

What would a newspaper know about reality?


Can't See the Boston Globe Forest For the Trees

If a newspaper is unread does it make a sound?

"US unveils new rules for forests; Environmental activists praise policy guide" by Juliet Eilperin  |  Washington Post, January 27, 2012

WASHINGTON - Tom Vilsack, the agriculture secretary, told reporters in a conference call that the rules require that planning decisions be “driven by sound science.’’  

This from a government that claims jet fuel fires felled three skyscrapers into their own footprints at free-fall speed, and continually drives home the global-warming scam.

The debate over how best to manage forests, especially in regions such as the Pacific Northwest, has pitted timber companies against environmentalists and some scientists for decades. Yesterday, administration officials emphasized that they had sought input from an array of constituencies to develop a plan that could minimize these public disputes....

House Natural Resources Committee chairman Doc Hastings, a Washington Republican, said the concerns that he and other lawmakers expressed about the planning rule’s impact on jobs “apparently fell on deaf ears. These new Obama regulations introduce excessive layers of bureaucracy that will cost jobs, hinder proper forest management, increase litigation, and add burdensome costs for Americans.’’

Officials at the American Forest & Paper Association, which represents pulp, paper, packaging and wood products companies along with forest landowners, said they were “still reviewing’’ the blueprint. But the group had concerns “regarding the costly procedural requirements in the proposed rule,’’ vice president and general counsel Jan Poling said.


Autistic Actors

"Autism gaining greater visibility in films, TV" January 25, 2012|By Joseph P. Kahn

Premiering tonight on Fox TV is “Touch,’’ a drama centered on a mute, emotionally withdrawn 10-year-old named Jake who possesses genius-level math skills. Just released, meanwhile, is the film “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,’’ whose 10-year protagonist, Oskar Schell, exhibits mildly autistic traits. It earned an Oscar nomination for best picture yesterday.  

And it reinforces the whole 9/11 myth.

Even as the American Psychiatric Association announced last week that it may restrict its definition of autism, a wave of movies, television dramas, and best-selling books is drawing pop culture attention to the mannerisms and behavior associated with the disorder. Whether the effect will prove beneficial - or trivializing and exploitative - is a matter of some discussion....


Phoenix No Paradise

"Long-hunted molester gets 560 years in prison" January 14, 2012

PHOENIX - A man dubbed by “America’s Most Wanted’’ as one of the most prolific child molesters in Arizona history was sentenced yesterday to 560 years in prison for abusing eight boys.

Arthur Leon Vitasek, 47, was sentenced by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Reinstein after being found guilty in November of 26 counts that included sexual conduct with a minor, child molestation, and public sexual indecency.

The charges stem from the molestation of eight boys from 7 to 15 years old in Phoenix and the suburbs of Paradise Valley and Mesa over a 15-year period beginning in 1990. Police suspect there are more victims.

Vitasek often targeted financially struggling single mothers, helping them with material items and showering their sons with gifts and attention, authorities said.

“This guy was a true classic predator,’’ Mesa police detective Steve Berry said yesterday. “You do want to get a maximum sentence on someone like that. You don’t want him to get another opportunity to hurt a child.’’

Vitasek was arrested in Texas in September 2006 after being on the lam for more than 18 months. “America’s Most Wanted’’ featured him on the program many times before his arrest.

Police in the Dallas suburb of Grand Prairie arrested Vitasek after a 16-year-old boy reported that Vitasek sexually assaulted him after they met on the Internet.

Grand Prairie police said that Vitasek was using a different name, Rich Loper, and that he admitted his real name only after a detective recognized him and repeatedly questioned him about his identity.

Vitasek told police that he was tired of being a hunted man.


Further south 

Rep. Giffords will resign, concentrate on recovery

With tears and cheers, House bids goodbye to Giffords

Giffords, Tucson constituents say goodbye

Apathetic About Arizona Post

"Ariz. school district cuts ethnic studies" Associated Press, January 12, 2012

TUCSON - A school district in Tucson voted to dismantle its ethnic studies program after more than $1 million of monthly state funding was to be cut off in response to conclusions by Arizona’s public schools chief and a judge that the program violated the law.

The 4-1 vote Tuesday by the Tucson Unified School District means courses in the district’s Mexican-American studies program will cease immediately....

The judge ruled that the program violated state law by having one or more classes designed primarily for one ethnic group, promoting racial resentment and advocating ethnic solidarity instead of treating students as individuals....


Florida Fire Spreads to Alabama

"US joins Fla. abortion clinic fire inquiry" January 03, 2012

PENSACOLA, Fla. — Federal investigators plan to join the investigation of a suspicious fire at a Florida Panhandle abortion clinic that has been the site of deadly violence in the past, officials said yesterday....


"Ala. man accused of setting fire at Fla. abortion clinic" Associated Press, January 06, 2012

PENSACOLA, Fla. - Authorities arrested an Alabama man yesterday on federal charges of setting a New Year’s fire that gutted a Florida Panhandle abortion clinic long targeted by violence and protests....


"Kosovo native charged in Florida terror plot" Associated Press, January 10, 2012

TAMPA - A Kosovo-born Muslim man was charged with plotting to attack crowded locations around Tampa, including nightclubs and a sheriff’s office, with a car bomb, assault rifle, and other explosives, federal authorities said yesterday.

According to a federal complaint, 25-year-old Sami Osmakac recorded an eight-minute video shortly before his arrest explaining why he wanted to bring terror to his “victims’ hearts’’ in the Tampa Bay area. Osmakac is a naturalized American citizen....

Osmakac was arrested Saturday - the day officials said he was planning his attack - after he allegedly bought explosive devices and firearms from an undercover agent.  

Could you stop it with the false-flag frame-ups and patsy plots please?

The firearms and explosives were disabled by law enforcement before the sale. 

Unlike the first WTC attack

How about that, huh?


"Ala. teacher arrested on sex abuse charges" Associated Press, January 06, 2012

ALABASTER, Ala. - An Alabama schoolteacher was jailed on charges of sexually abusing a fourth-grade female student, and police said yesterday that the man told them he molested more than 20 other girls over his 25-year career....


"Storms batter South, leaving 2 dead, 100 hurt in Ala." Associated Press, January 24, 2012

CLAY, Ala. - Violent weather including possible tornadoes roared across the heart of Alabama yesterday, killing two people and injuring more than 100 others....

The storms flattened homes, knocked down trees, and peeled off roofs in the middle of the night in the rural community of Oak Grove, which was touched by both storms. The area near Birmingham has a history of being a tornado alley....

The storm system stretched from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, producing hail, strong winds, and rain. Possible tornadoes were reported in Arkansas Sunday night....  

Related: Huckabee relative, 2 others, killed in Ark.


"SOUTHERN CHILL -- Charles Nance counted cots at an auditorium in Birmingham, Ala., yesterday for residents needing to get out of the cold. Temperatures in the low 20s were forecast overnight. At left, ice stopped the flow in the Wilson Park fountain in Florence, Ala. (Boston Globe January 4 2012)."  

Ice in Alabama? In the alleged age of global warm.... awwwwwww, never mind!

"Missing teen Natalee Holloway declared dead" ASSOCIATED PRESS, January 13, 2012

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - An Alabama judge signed an order yesterday declaring Natalee Holloway dead, more than six years after the American teenager vanished on the Caribbean island of Aruba while on a high school graduation trip....

Natalee Holloway disappeared in Aruba on May 30, 2005. The 18-year-old was last seen leaving a bar early that morning with Dutchman Joran van der Sloot. Her body was never found and the ensuing searches for the young woman garnered intense media scrutiny and worldwide attention....

Natalee Holloway’s parents were divorced in 1993, and Beth Holloway sat in the back row of the courtroom, mostly staring at her hands in her lap during the hearing. She declined comment, but her attorney signaled it was a tough moment for her to see a judge sign an order declaring her daughter dead....


Related: A Slooty AmeriKan MSM

They should be ashamed of themselves.

Mayhem in Maryland

Caused by -- who else? -- the "terrorists!"

"Man caught in terrorism sting admits bomb plot" by Sarah Brumfield  |  Associated Press, January 27, 2012

Was that before or after the torture?

BALTIMORE - A Maryland man pleaded guilty yesterday to trying to detonate what he thought was a car bomb outside a military recruiting center in suburban Baltimore, saying he was motivated by what he saw as an American war on Islam....

The plot to bomb the Armed Forces Recruiting Center in Catonsville in December 2010 was foiled by an FBI sting. An FBI informant first communicated with Antonio Martinez, 22, on Facebook after seeing public posts “espousing his extremist views’’ and recognizing him from a mosque he attended, according to court documents.

See: Say Hi to the FBI

Don't relax on the Web.

Authorities say Martinez’s ideas ranged from a bombing and armed attack to burning the building down. He told an undercover FBI agent that he wanted to make jihadist activities his profession, dedicating his life to the cause, according to the plea.

Martinez decided on a car bomb after a discussion with the undercover agent because “using a bomb would allow him to commit further acts here and overseas,’’ prosecutor Christine Manuelian said.

The informant and the undercover agent gave Martinez repeated opportunities to back out, but he insisted he was committed, even after expressing reservations after a Somali-born teenager was arrested in Oregon in a similar sting, according to court documents.


Also see:  Outrageous and Obnoxious in Oregon

D.C. Metro

More from Baltimore: Poe fans call an end to 'Toaster' tradition

I call for an end to "terror" tyranny.

"Body found; may be son of slain Md. woman" October 19, 2011|Associated Press

CLARKSBURG, Md. - Maryland police found remains yesterday that they believe are those of a missing boy whose mother was discovered slain.

Investigators discovered the remains of a young African-American child yesterday morning in a wooded area of Montgomery County. Police Chief Thomas Manger says officers believe that it is the body of 11-year-old William McQuain.

Authorities began searching for William after Jane McQuain was found dead last week in the bedroom of her Germantown condominium.

Her estranged husband, Curtis Maurice Lopez, was arrested in North Carolina and charged in her death. Lopez has waived his extradition and is due back in Montgomery County.

Police have been searching different trails and parks in northern Montgomery County, based on information they say they have received.

Lopez had served more than a dozen years in prison in Pennsylvania before being paroled in 2000.

McQuain’s former boyfriend said last week that she had told him recently that she feared for her safety and worried that Lopez might harm her.

Police said witnesses had told them that they had seen Lopez loading boxes into McQuain’s car in the last few weeks.

At least elections are orderly and fair:

"Ex-aide convicted in Md. voter fraud plot" December 07, 2011|Associated Press

BALTIMORE - A political aide to former Maryland governor Robert Ehrlich was convicted yesterday of conspiring to use Election Day robocalls in an effort to suppress black voter turnout during the 2010 gubernatorial election....


Detroit Detour

You will have to take the long way around:

"Detroit slashes precinct hours to enable more patrols; Effort to boost safety without spending more" by Corey Williams  |  Associated Press, January 13, 2012

DETROIT - Fighting crime is a 24-hour job, but Detroit police stations will be sticking to business hours.

The department is rolling out a plan to close precincts and district headquarters to the public after 4 p.m. It’s an effort to put more officers on patrol, especially in the most besieged neighborhoods, without adding to the city’s $200 million budget deficit....

Closing precincts to the public by late afternoon is not expected to save money. It just reassigns officers and their duties....

Like many police departments, Detroit’s force is under severe financial constraints. The city has about 2,700 officers, down from 4,000 a decade ago. Another 100 officers could be laid off by next month without federal grant money.

There are few areas to make cuts other than jobs, something the police chief and Mayor Dave Bing are loath to do, particularly in light of the city’s violent crime rate, one of the highest in the country, and a spike in murders....

Bing, who is trying to keep Detroit from being taken over by an emergency financial manager, is cutting 1,000 city jobs in the next few weeks. Services like fixing lights and sidewalks and cutting grass are being reduced. The mayor is also seeking medical and pension concessions from city unions....   

Related: Detroit's Damn Unions

Compounding matters is Detroit’s size: 139 square miles. Although the population has fallen from 1.8 million in 1950 to 700,000 today, officers must still patrol a large area.

“We have done a disservice to our community by spreading ourselves thin, giving citizens the belief that we will respond to things that are not an emergency,’’ Police Chief Ralph Godbee said. The changes are mainly “for those brave men and women that are overtaxed out there’’ answering calls for service....


Happy Holidays From Honolulu

"4 mothers turn selves in over toy thefts" by Associated Press  |   December 29, 2011

HONOLULU - Four unemployed single mothers surrendered to police after they were seen on surveillance footage taking items from a Hawaii toy store before Christmas, Honolulu police said yesterday.

The women, ages 22, 25, 26, and 30, were arrested Tuesday at the Kaneohe police station, near the Windward Mall Toys “R’’ Us where police say there were among of a group seen hauling away merchandise Dec. 1.

They were arrested on suspicion of second-degree theft, booked, and later released pending further investigation, said Caroline Sluyter, a police spokeswoman.

Several of the women contacted attorney Myles Breiner last week after police released the footage and asked the public for help finding them. The remorseful women took the toys as gifts for their children, he said, and that he made arrangements for police to take the items from his office to be returned to the store’s manager.

One of the women is six months pregnant, Breiner said. A fifth woman and a man were not on the island and are expected to surrender, he said.

All five of the women are single and unemployed. One of them had a job until news of her arrest got her fired, Breiner said.

“This seemed like a very desperate situation,’’ he said, adding that he’s helping them pro bono. He is representing one woman and arranged for the others to get representation.

He said he is hoping for leniency from authorities.


"Single moms suspected in 2d theft" Associated Press, December 30, 2011

HONOLULU - Members of a group suspected of hauling items out of a Hawaii toy store, who say they stole the toys as gifts for their children, are also suspects in a theft of two flat-screen televisions two days earlier, Honolulu police said....   

Those were gifts for adult relatives.

Myles Breiner, the attorney who is representing one of the women and arranged for the others to get representation, could not be reached yesterday. He has said all the women are down-on-their luck single moms desperate to “meet their kids’ expectations.’’  

Now here is an HDTV for your bedroom.


New Jersey Nonsense

Don't get full up, readers:

"Wealthy N.J. county has dramatic rise in food stamp clients" December 18, 2011|By Elise Young, Bloomberg News

TRENTON, N.J. - New Jersey’s Hunterdon County, the hilly region of horse farms and weekend retreats where last year’s median household income was almost $100,000, is a surprising new face of federal food aid.

Hunterdon, whose 2010 median household income of $97,874 was the highest in New Jersey and fourth-highest in the country, saw food stamp usage surge 513 percent between 2007 and 2010.

The percentage of US households using food stamps more than doubled in six of the 10 wealthiest counties in the nation as more residents find themselves out of work and unable to sell their homes....

Nationwide, requests for food assistance rose during the past year in 25 of 29 cities surveyed by the US Conference of Mayors. Unemployment was the primary reason for requesting aid, followed by poverty, low-wage jobs, and high housing costs, according to a recent survey. Eighty-eight percent of the cities reported an increase in the number of people requesting food assistance for the first time....


"N.J. synagogue residence firebombed" January 12, 2012

RUTHERFORD, N.J. - New Jersey law enforcement officials urged residents and religious institutions to be vigilant after a Rutherford synagogue and its rabbi’s sleeping quarters were firebombed early yesterday, the fourth such incident within a month that has been classified as a bias crime against a Jewish center or religious institution in northern New Jersey.

Bergen County prosecutor John Molinelli said there was no evidence yet linking the four incidents, but investigators had not ruled out that they might be connected. In addition to being classified as a bias crime, Molinelli said, yesterday’s fire at Congregation Beth El in Rutherford was possibly the work of more than one person. He said several incendiary devices were thrown at the building, which houses a synagogue on its first floor and the rabbi’s living quarters on the second. Molinelli said it was being classified as an attempted murder, after an incendiary device was thrown into the rabbi’s bedroom.

No one was seriously hurt.

Within the last three weeks in Bergen County, just across the river from New York City, a fire was set at a synagogue in Paramus and anti-Semitic graffiti were discovered at two other synagogues, one in Hackensack and the other in Maywood.


Related: Hate Crime Hoaxes Appearing All Across America

Now maybe this one is real and everything the media says it is; however, you can understand my skepticism, right?

"Man, 19, charged with bombing synagogues" Associated Press, January 25, 2012

PARAMUS, N.J. - The suspect in two firebombings of New Jersey synagogues is a virulent anti-Semite who was so intent on sowing fear and destruction that he rode his bike to both locations when he couldn’t get access to a car, authorities said yesterday.

Anthony Graziano, of Lodi, an unemployed recent high school graduate, was charged with the Jan. 11 attack on a Rutherford synagogue and the Jan. 3 firebombing of a synagogue in Paramus. He was being held on $5 million bail.  

That's a lot of pedaling with explosives on your perso.... oh, never mind.

The charges include nine counts of attempted murder, bias intimidation, arson, and aggravated arson. Graziano, 19, is scheduled to make an initial court appearance this morning.

“We have no doubt that the arson and attempted murder in Rutherford were a direct result of Mr. Graziano’s hatred of people of the Jewish faith,’’ said Bergen County prosecutor John Molinelli yesterday.  

It's not the faith or anything else that bothers me, it is the action of a select minority.

Molinelli and other authorities didn’t speculate on what may have spurred Graziano to action. They described him as a 2010 high school graduate and loner who lacked access to a car but searched for nearby synagogues on the Internet and rode his bike to the two locations and, at the Rutherford synagogue, threw several Molotov cocktails and other incendiary devices before fleeing.  

Nothing like a stoo-pid lid leaving a directional arrow back to himself.

He is believed to have acted alone.  

Why is it every time the authorities or their mouthpiece claim such do I now doubt it?

Graziano’s father, whose name is also Anthony Graziano, told The Record newspaper that he sees his son infrequently but that his son had never said anything to suggest he had any animosity toward Jews. He called his son a great kid but said “he’s confused.’’

The Rutherford attack, which caused a fire in the residence of Rabbi Nosson Schuman, could have caused serious injury and possibly death.


"Synagogue arson suspect faces new charges" Associated Press. January 28, 2012

HACKENSACK, N.J. - Authorities leveled additional charges yesterday against a teenager accused in the firebombing of two synagogues, saying that he had plotted a similar attack on a Jewish community center and had conducted Internet searches for creating Molotov cocktails and instructions on blowing up buildings.

Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said investigators found multiple Molotov cocktails this week in a wooded area near the Jewish Community Center of Paramus and traced the evidence to a foiled attack they said suspect Anthony Graziano was planning for Jan. 7.

Graziano, 19, was charged yesterday with aggravated arson, bias intimidation, and other charges for the planned attack on the Paramus Jewish community center.

Graziano was arrested earlier this week and has already pleaded not guilty to nine counts of attempted murder as well as bias intimidation and arson charges for a Jan. 11 attack on a Rutherford synagogue and a Jan. 3 firebombing of a Paramus synagogue.


Let's try a different religion: 

"Janitor convicted of murdering NJ priest in 2009" Associated Press, December 23, 2011

NEWARK - A former church janitor was convicted yesterday of murdering a New Jersey priest who was stabbed more than 30 times while brewing a cup of coffee in his kitchen.  

Pooper-pump victim?

Jose Feliciano, 66, of Easton, Pa., did not deny stabbing the Rev. Edward Hinds to death in the rectory of St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church in Chatham in October 2009. But his lawyer told jurors during closing arguments on Monday that Feliciano killed him in a fit of rage over sexual blackmail.

The prosecution said Feliciano “slaughtered’’ the priest after Hinds discovered that Feliciano had an outstanding arrest warrant in Philadelphia from the 1980s for sexually touching a child, and fired him.

Feliciano contended the priest demanded sex in exchange for keeping quiet about the warrant.

Feliciano, who testified for eight days during the trial, was found guilty in Morristown of murder, felony murder, two counts of robbery, and two weapons counts. He is to be sentenced in February.

“I am proud and honored to have been part of a process to vindicate Father Hinds’s murder and the slander of his reputation, which obviously the jury soundly did not believe,’’ said Morris County prosecutor Robert Bianchi, who tried the case.

Hinds, 61, was in his clerical robes when he was killed while brewing coffee. His body was found on a Friday morning after he failed to appear for Mass.

The slaying rocked Chatham, a well-to-do community of about 10,000 residents, where Hinds was a familiar face and beloved presence.


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