Weekly Links- Nov 20-27

A little slower than usual on the news front this past week given the Thanksgiving Holiday, but with the Iowa Republican caucuses just thirty-six days away, there seems to be yet another seismic shift in the  field of candidates.

  • The campaign of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has been seen as a long shot since it was rather clumsily announced last March. Recent questions about money he made advising Federal Housing giant Freddie Mac and statements he made criticizing child labor laws, seemed like they would be additional blows to an already flagging campaign.
  • But as of about two weeks ago, some opinion polls show Gingrich inching out a lead over former Massachusetts  Governor Mitt Romney, indicating that he may be the latest in a long line of candidates that conservatives are flocking to him, as an alternative to Romney.
  • Last Tuesday, in a CNN Republican primary debate about  National security issues, many observers said Gingrich gave a strong performance.Gingrich, also made headlines in the debate, when he spoke of the need for a ‘more humane’ immigration policy that would forge a pathway to legalization’ for those immigrants who may have entered the country illegally, but now have families in the U.S and have assimilated into the fabric of American life.
  • Some conservatives slammed Gingrich for the move that has been widely seen as a tact to the center. Iowa Congressman Steve King  as well as primary rivals such as Romney and Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann called such a policy ‘amnesty’.
  • But to the degree that it may have wounded the former House Speaker’s chances of getting the nomination, it doesn’t seem to be showing. He is still shown in polls either slightly ahead or behind Romney, while right now polls show him a distant second behind Romney in the first in the coming New Hampshire primary.
  • And despite his recent hard line on illegal immigration, Blue Mass Group reports that a Boston Globe article that cites a 2005  quote from Romney that the ‘pathway to citizenship’ being backed by such Republican leaders as Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and then President George W Bush was ‘quite different’ from amnesty. Additionally, in a 2007 ‘Meet the Press’ interview, the then Massachusetts Governor and 2008 GOP primary candidate seemed to embrace forging a ‘path to citizenship’ for those who entered the country illegally. What was an issue Romney thought he could use to bolster his conservative credentials, now might have just served to remind conservatives of the doubts they have about Romney that has been fueled by his vacillations on a multitude of issues and his image as a political opportunist rather than a leader of conviction.
  • Much of the Republican establishment has openly declared their support for Romney such as South Dakota Senator John Thune, as well as much of the Republican state establishment, including the state’s GOP Senator Kelly Ayotte.
  • But this Sunday, Gingrich won the official endorsement of ‘the Union Leader’, New Hampshire’s conservative state wide newspaper that is seen as influential among Republican activists. In the editorial announcing their support for Gingrich they also seem to take a few not so subtle swipes at Romney. While the endorsement might be one that is coveted hoping to win the primary, as Steve Benen at Political Animal points out, it has a fairly weak record when it comes to endorsing the person who eventually wins the primary.
  • Also, this week as President Obama headed to the Granite state to garner support for his proposals for a jobs bill and extending the payroll tax credit, was greeted by an ad from the Romney campaign. The ad features President Obama stating that ‘If we continue to talk about the economy, we’re going to loose.’  Obama supporters and observers slammed the ad, because the quote seemed to indicate that Obama was saying that about himself when when he was in fact in 2008,quoting a McCain campaign offfical regarding the economy. Nonetheless, Team Romney stood by his ad, and using those same guidelines, Think Progress had some fun with their own ad.
  • Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson has had trouble getting himself known among the the crop of GOP contenders. His support is so low , in most polls he doesn’t even register, and has been invited to only a couple of the Republican debates. But there is some talk that Johnson could be mulling a run as a third party candidate in the general election with the support of the Libertarian Party.
  • Given that Johnson is a Republican former Governor who has a record and message of cutting spending, shrinking government, and a less activist foreign policy; many say such a candidacy would siphon votes away from the Republicans. But  his pro-choice, pro-Gay rights, anti-war, and advocacy for legalizing marijuana; could win him the support of many younger disenchanted former Obama supporters.

In other news:

  • The grounds in front of Los Angeles City Hall could be the next place  that ‘Occupy’ protesters are ousted  from, , as demonstrators are refusing to vacate an encampment there by Midnight, meaning they will likely be cleared out by Police.
  • Pepper Spray developer calls the use of pepper spray on peaceful occupy protesters by UC Davis Police ‘inappropriate’.
  • Speaking of inappropriate uses of pepper spray, a woman allegedly used pepper spray against fellow shoppers at a Porter Ranch Wal-Mart in Southern California while trying to get an XBox 360 gaming console. Twenty people received minor injuries as a result of the assault. The woman, who is unnamed and has only been described as a Latino woman in her thirties, turned herself in Friday night, though its not clear what charges, if any she will face.
  • An Illinois Republican State Representative has proposed legislation that would bifurcate Cook County which includes Chicago, and the rest of Illinois into two different states, in other words basically making Chicago and its surrounding communities the nation’s 51st state. State Rep. Bill Mitchell says he is proposing such legislation because Cook County residents hold “hold different and firmly seated views” on ” politics, society, and economics’ that are ‘an insult to the traditional values of downstate families.’ Given that the legislation has just one co-sponsor, not to mention the myriad of federal and state hoops proponents would have to jump through, this appears it won’t go very far.
  • A ‘Jew or not Jew’ iPhone apphas been dropped from Apple stores after some controversy. The game would allow players to guess whether any number of prominent figures were Jewish, Jewish converts, half Jewish, or not Jewish. The stir first came in France in September and then broadened across Europe when a number of anti-racism groups, brought suits against Apple France demanding it deactivate the ap. On Nov 17, Apple agreed to stop making the app available to customers, while devices that already have it loaded can keep it. The Attorney for Johann Levy, the developer of the app said this wasn’t a discrimination case and that she is mystified about how anyone could view it as anti-Semitic. His attorney said: “when Johann Levy conceived his application, he was worried that it would be perceived as too pro-Jewish.”  Oy Vay! Best bet if one wants to learn about what celebrities are or not Jewish is just to stick with Adam Sandler’s ‘Hanukkah song’.
  • Time Magazine estimated that this Thanksgiving 16 million Americans would eat take out.
  • The U.S Labor Department reported Tuesday that unemployment rates dipped slightly in October, decreasing in thirty-six states and the District of Columbia. Five other states saw rises in unemployment figures, while nine others saw no change at all. No word on how much this has to do with temporary positions for Holiday season. The U.S overall unemployment rate remains at 9.0. The two states with the highest unemployment rates are Nevada with 13.4% and California with 11. 7 percent. The District of Columbia records a 11.0 percent unemployment rate. By contrast the three states wit the lowest unemployment rates are: North Dakota with 3.5 percent, Nebraska at 4.2 percent, and New Hampshire with 5.3%.
  • Both American and British wordsmiths at Oxford University Press, have chosen ‘Squeezed Middle’ as the phrase of 2011. Oxford Press says that ‘Squeezed middle’ is  “the section of society regarded as particularly affected by inflation, wage freezes, and cuts in public spending during a time of economic difficulty, consisting principally of those people on low or middle incomes.” Other familiar words and phrases that made their way into global popular culture and the annals of history and language  this year include: Arab Spring, ‘the 99 percent’, and ‘Bunga Bunga’.
  • The man who helped devise the 401k offers criticisms of the popular retirement plans.
  • Actor Christian Bale who has portrayed Batman twice, says his third time as the Dark Knight in the upcoming film ‘Dark Knight Rises’ will be his last.
  • And Rolling Stone has declared Jimi Hendrix the greatest guitarist of all time, hence the video above.

Posted this week:

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