Quick Hits

Here are some other items making the rounds today.

It's primary day in Kansas, Michigan, and Missouri. CNN has an overview.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid continues to hold a narrow edge over the Tea Party extremist Sharron Angle in Nevada in the latest Reuters-Ipsos poll Among voters who said they are likely to vote, Reid held a 48-44 percent lead.

The Senate on Tuesday opened floor debate of on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Five Republicans have already stated their intention to confirm while one Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, will not vote to confirm. The vote will likely be held Thursday or perhaps Friday before the Senate adjourns for its August recess. More from the New York Times.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs acknowledged Tuesday that President Obama's presence in some districts would hurt Democratic candidates in the midterm elections. The Hill has more on Gibbs' remarks.

David Corn of Mother Jones profiles the outgoing GOP Rep. Bob Inglis of South Carolina who was ousted by the Tea Party backed candidate Trey Gowdy. In the article, Congressman Inglis Bob Inglis slams Republican demagoguery, bemoans anti-Semitic tea party conspiracy nonsense, decries Sarah Palin's ignorance, while he looks for a job.

Speaking of conservative extremism and purity tests in South Carolina, the Greenville County Republican Party voted 61 to 2 to rebuke Senator Lindsey Graham for not being conservative enough. The story from CNN.

 

Quick Hits

Three U.S. troops died in blasts in Afghanistan, bringing the death toll for July to at least 63 and surpassing the previous month's record as the deadliest for American forces in the nearly 9-year-old war. More coverage in the Los Angeles Times.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist leads the three-way race for the U.S. Senate seat with 37 percent, followed by 32 percent for Republican Marco Rubio and 17 percent for Jeff Greene, the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

In Nevada Senate Race, the Las Vegas Review Journal reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle are locked in a dead heat. The new survey by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research shows Reid and Angle neck and neck. The Senate majority leader would win 43 percent and Angle 42 percent of support from likely Nevada voters if the election were held now. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points . A July 12-14 Mason-Dixon poll showed Reid 7 points ahead of Angle, 44-37 but Angle has countered with ads blaming the Nevada economy on Reid.

Judicial confirmation rates have nosedived in the Obama Presidency as flibusters, anonymous holds, and other obstructionary tactics have become the rule. The Center for American Progress has the story.

The financial blog Credit Writedowns has more on the report by Fed Governor James Bullard on deflation which I covered yesterday. Their post has a great summation of the situation we face:

In our view the case for deflation is a strong one as most of the classic symptoms are present in the U.S. today. Record historic debt is already in the process of deleveraging, and there is still a long way to go. Consumer demand is restrained. There is an excess of labor supply with five people available for every open job. Capacity utilization rates are historically low. Household net worth is far below peak levels. Credit is available only to the most highly qualified borrowers. Money supply has been flat or decreasing despite massive stimulus. All of this is a classic recipe for deflation. We also believe that there is little the Fed can do to avoid the outcome. Japan kept both short and long-term interest rate exceedingly low for many years and ran massive budget deficits with little to show for it, although they did prevent a complete collapse of their economic and financial system. While there is a difference between the U.S. and Japan, two major differences were in favor of Japan rather than the U.S. During most of Japan’s two-decade malaise the global economy was quite strong and Japan was able to support its economy with a substantial amount of exports. Furthermore, Japan started with a 12% household savings rate and was able to run it down, thereby providing some support for consumer spending.

Michael Whitney over at Firedoglake covers the latest madness from Senator Dianne Feinstein of California. Senator Feinstein's “Saving Kids from Dangerous Drugs Act of 2009″ (S. 258) that targets pot brownies and other marijuana edibles preferred by some medical marijuana patients passed the Senate unanimously.

Quick Hits

Here are some other stories making news today.

The Los Angeles Times U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton says the provision in Arizona's immigration law that makes lacking immigration documents a crime may violate prior rulings that bar states from creating their own immigrant registration systems.

A House committee has filed ethics charges against Rep. Charles Rangel, the former Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee. An adjudicatory subcommittee will hold a public organizational meeting on July 29th. The story in The Hill.

The Hutch News of Hutchinson, Kansas has withdrawn its endorsement of Tracey Mann in the GOP Primary in the First Congressional District in Kansas citing his birther views.

Fresh off a weekend jaunt to Maine, President Barack Obama and his family will vacation on the Florida Gulf Coast next month, the White House said Thursday. The Obamas are scheduled to travel to the coast on Aug. 14 and stay the weekend. Expect the right wing to go crazy over another Obama vacation. Just to set the record straight, 18 months in his Presidency George W. Bush had taken 120 days of time off. The Obamas, so far, have taken 65 days of vacation.

The Incidental Economist has a post on why the US spends more on healthcare than any other country. Fee-for-service payment arrangements, which predominate the health care industry, are one of the major factors driving the increased service intensity and thus largely responsible for driving up costs.

Must be a record of some kind. From the Las Vegas Sun: "In the warehouse of a family-owned clean diesel manufacturer in Sparks, Angle delivered a three-minute speech on her desire to permanently repeal the estate tax. When invited by the final speaker to stay and answer a few questions, she turned on her heel and rushed out a back door with a small cadre of staff members."

Army. Lt. Dan Choi, one of the most outspoken critics of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy that bars gays and lesbians from serving openly in the US Military, has been honorably discharged from the Army. More from CNN.

Stand and Deliver

The premise is simple. Good governance is rewarded. Stand for something and deliver public goods and you'll earn points with voters. In this case, passing a major financial reform bill has earned the Democrats a six point lead on a generic ballot in the latest Gallup poll. The reversal in Democratic fortunes is primarily due to winning back independent voters.

 

The Democrats' six-point advantage in Gallup Daily interviewing from July 12-18 represents the first statistically significant lead for that party's candidates since Gallup began weekly tracking of this measure in March.

Whether the Democrats' edge is sustainable remains to be seen. Republicans held a four-point or better lead over Democrats in three Gallup weekly averages thus far this year, but in each case, the gap narrowed or collapsed to a tie the following week.

With Republicans' and Democrats' support for their own party's candidates holding steady in the low 90s this past week, independents are primarily responsible for Democrats' improved positioning. Thirty-nine percent of independents favor the Democratic candidate in their district, up from 34% -- although slightly more, 43%, still favor the Republican.

However, an enthusiasm gap still remains. Gallup reports that 51 percent of Republicans are saying they are "very enthusiastic" about voting this fall is up from 40 percent the prior week. The 51 percent marks the highest level since April. On the other hand, Democratic enthusiasm remains mired at 28 percent.

In other polling news, Public Policy Polling is set to release their latest poll of the Nevada Senate race. The PPP poll is likely to show Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid with a comfortable lead over the Tea Party darling Sharron Angle. The problem for Angle is that she is seen as the extremist that she is among moderate independent voters.

Sharron Angle is getting 9% with liberals and 80% with conservatives, down just slightly from the 12% and 82% Lowden was getting with those groups. But where Lowden trailed Reid only 51-41 with moderate voters, Angle is facing a 64-28 deficit. The price of nominating Angle for Nevada Republicans appears to be 26 points with moderate voters.

We asked poll respondents whether they considered Angle's views to be 'mainstream' or 'extremist.' 68% of moderates put Angle in the 'extremist' category to just 22% who called her 'mainstream.' That goes a long way toward explaining the drastically changed state of this race.

Neither Senator Reid nor the Democrats are out of the woods as yet and much work needs to be done to re-energize the base, if not re-assemble the tattered Obama coalition but continued progress on economic issues and calling the Republicans out on their obstructionism and come the Fall we may have the November surprise that Vice President Biden is predicting. At the very least, the odds of retaining both houses of Congress are improving.

Quick Hits

A few items making news and worth a read.

Sharron Angle is dead, the trend is inescapable and the race’s dynamic is fundamentally altered writes Jon Ralston in the Las Vegas Sun.

The Boston Globe reports that the Massachusetts state Legislature is poised to give final approval this week to a new law intended to bypass the Electoral College system and ensure that the winner of the presidential election is determined by the national popular vote.

The world's oceans have for too long been a dumping ground and are clearly in trouble. In an effort to make sense of of the dozens of US laws and overlapping agencies governing policy on oceans, coasts and the Great Lakes, John Holden, the White House Science Advisor, announced that it was forming a new National Ocean Council. The new body, which will include 24 officials from various federal agencies, will not have the power to propose new laws or regulations. Rather it will set broad policy goals and try to referee between conflicting commercial and recreational uses of the nation’s aquatic resources. By signing an Executive Order establishing a National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Coasts, and Great Lakes, President Obama strengthens ocean governance and coordination, establishes guiding principles for ocean management, and adopts a flexible framework for effective coastal and marine spatial planning to address conservation, economic activity, user conflict, and sustainable use of the ocean, our coasts and the Great Lakes. More from the New York Times.

In a related story, new research from the National Center for Atmospheric Research suggests that climate change is already causing even greater sea level rise along the coastlines of the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, Sri Lanka, Sumatra and Java—coastlines inhabited by hundreds of millions of people. The same climate change is also responsible for falling sea levels around the Seychelles and a potential weakening of the monsoons. A podcast from Scientific American.

Staying on global warming related topics, Federal officials noted last week that they fear an outbreak of dengue fever in Florida after a survey of Key West residents found that at least 5% had been infected or exposed to the virus. With the exception of a handful of isolated cases along the Texas-Mexico border, there had previously been no cases in the continental United States since 1946 and no outbreak in Florida since 1934. I have had dengue fever twice, once after a trip to the Chocó rainforest and a second time after a trip to Belize. The incubation period takes two weeks, I'd expect to see increased reports of dengue fever in the press the next few weeks. The virus produces high fever and a sensation that your bones are breaking apart. 

Matt Taibbi writes on the shenanigans surrounding a vote on Senator Bernie Sanders' proposal in the Senate to put a 15 percent cap on credit-card interest. Another Senate Charade highlights how Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall initially voted "no" but change their votes once it became clear the measure was headed for defeat allowing the Senators to claim that they stood for consumer protection.

Vice President Biden sung the praises of Speaker Nancy Pelosi today while at a fundraiser for Bryan Lentz, who is running to replace Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) who is now running for the Senate. Biden called the Speaker from San Francisco the “most powerful person in U.S. politics.” In what's likely to add to the catalogue of the quotable Biden, the Vice President said that “the single most successful, the single most persuasive, the single most strategic leader I have ever worked with is Nancy Pelosi,” before adding that "Nancy, you are the mother of healthcare.” The full story at The Hill.

 

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