Ben Affleck is taking his name off the list of possible candidates for U.S. Sen. John Kerry's seat, which would be open if the Democratic senator from Massachusetts is confirmed as secretary of state.
Affleck says in a Monday posting on his Facebook page that while he loves the political process, he will not be running for public office.
Speculation about the Cambridge, Mass., native rose slightly when he did not completely rule out a Senate bid during an appearance on CBS' Face The Nation on Sunday.
In his Facebook posting, Affleck says he would continue working with the Eastern Congo Initiative, a nonprofit organization that helps direct humanitarian aid to the war-torn region, and for other causes.
Affleck says Kerry would make a great secretary of state.
This is good news for outgoing Senator Scott Brown; Affleck’s celebrity status and widespread name recognition would almost certainly have given Democrats an advantage. Now, however, it seems there are at least three reasons why the lame-duck senator has a golden opportunity to return to the upper chamber: (1) his favorability rating is nearly 60 percent, (2) he likely won’t face a serious primary challenger, and (3) Democrats must contend with a competitive and perhaps even brutal nomination process, in part because there is no clear front-runner.
On the other hand, the Washington Post’s Mark Horan reminds us that Senator Brown’s return -- while certainly possible -- is not necessarily etched in stone:
...Since Republicans count for less than 12 percent of the state’s registered voters, they need a huge chunk of unaligned voters and maybe a few Democrats to win. With no social issues to fall back on — same-sex marriage has been on the books in Massachusetts since 2004; roughly two-thirds of voters are pro-choice — Massachusetts Republicans seem able to cobble together a majority only in tough economic times.
Which brings us back to Brown. The senator struggled throughout 2012 to find his footing in a gentler, more forgiving political environment. The unemployment rate in Massachusetts had dropped to 6 percent as the summer began (and is even lower in Greater Boston), and the mood in the Bay State had turned sunnier: A Suffolk University poll in October found 63 percent of the electorate saying the state was on the right track, a 30-point turnaround from the Brown special election.
These concerns notwithstanding, Senator Brown has the benefit of canvassing and competing in two high-profile statewide elections. Plus, one of the major reasons he lost his bid for re-election -- if not the reason -- was because Democrats (unsurprisingly) showed up in droves to re-elect the president. (That will not be the case this time around, for obvious reasons). Furthermore, a lower Democratic turnout -- especially in a deeply blue state like Massachusetts -- only benefits the GOP. This is why one can’t help but feel somewhat optimistic; Republicans -- at least for the moment -- seem almost poised to pick up another seat in the upper chamber sometime next year.
It’s not always fun and easy being a young Republican, let alone an enthusiastic Mitt Romney supporter. Whoa:
The parents of the Charles Carroll High School student ridiculed and ordered by her teacher to remove a t-shirt supporting Mitt Romney sued the teacher and school district on Friday, claiming the act violated the girl's civil rights.
Filed in federal court in Philadelphia, the suit says the district ignored Samantha Pawlucy's right to free speech, let other students threaten and harass her and subjected her "to emotional distress, simply because she exercised her First Amendment rights."
Fernando Gallard, a spokesman for the district, said it would not comment on the lawsuit.
Pawlucy, a 16-year-old sophomore from Port Richmond, drew national headlines from the furor that erupted when she wore a pink "Romney-Ryan" shirt during a dress-down day at school in September.
According to the lawsuit, Pawlucy had worn the shirt all day when she walked into geometry teacher Lynette Gaymon's classroom.
The teacher allegedly told the teen that Charles Carroll was a "Democratic" school and that her shirt was akin to one spouting a logo for the Ku Klux Klan. She ordered Pawlucy to remove the shirt, then enlisted an aide who tried to draw an X through the candidates' name on the shirt.
Pawlucy's parents complained to school officials and the story went viral.
Gaymon later publicly apologized to the girl. But Pawlucy claims she endured ongoing harassment and threats and was unable to return to the school.
What kind of “educator” acts this way? Sure, teachers can certainly disagree with the political opinions of their students. But to publicly embarrass -- and ridicule -- a young girl for supporting a major party candidate for president is beyond comprehension. As I understand it, this geometry teacher doesn’t even attempt to engage her student in any type of meaningful discussion or dialogue. Instead, she reflexively resorts to fear tactics and intimidation. And while it’s difficult to imagine filing a full-blown lawsuit against my teacher if I found myself in a similar situation, I can fully understand why the student’s family believed this was necessary. The audaciousness of this “grown-up’s” behavior is simply astonishing.
Meanwhile, it’s comforting to know how taxpayer dollars are being spent these days: ridiculing young minds and bullying teenagers. Then again, I guess we really shouldn’t be surprised.
It seems to me that when Senator Scott Brown lost his bid for re-election last November, centrist Republicans in Massachusetts -- and around the country, for that matter -- were demoralized. Not only did he lose to a big government, tax-and-spend liberal Democrat, but he lost by a devastating margin. But fear not, my friends: we may not have seen the last of Washington’s second most bipartisan Senator.
Indeed, a new poll released Thursday suggests that the lame-duck lawmaker is heavily favored to win back a seat in the upper chamber; that is, if -- and only if -- John Kerry becomes the next secretary of state (via Ed Morrissey):
A WBUR poll of 500 registered voters (PDFs –topline,crosstabs) finds U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is in a strong position should there be a special election to fill U.S. Sen. John Kerry’s seat.
Kerry is believed to be President Obama’s choice to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The poll, conducted by the MassINC Polling Group on Monday and Tuesday, finds voters view Brown favorably, despite the fact that in November they chose to elect Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren in his stead. Fifty-eight percent of those polled say they have a favorable view of Brown, compared with 28 percent who view him unfavorably. Rounded off, 12 percent say they are undecided, and 1 percent say they have never heard of him.
MassINC pollster Steve Koczela looked at how well Brown would fare against four current or former Democratic members of Congress.
“We matched him up theoretically against (U.S. Reps.) Ed Markey, Mike Capuano, Steve Lynch and (former U.S. Rep.) Marty Meehan, and in each one of those cases, he led by between 17 and 19 points,” Koczela said.
Meehan, now the president of the University of Massachusetts Lowell, has already said he’s not interested in running.
But how likely is it that Senator Kerry will actually receive his much-coveted and long awaited promotion? Pretty darn certain, according to the New York Times:
President Obama is leaning strongly toward naming John Kerry, the Massachusetts senator and unsuccessful Democratic nominee for president eight years ago, to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state, according to administration officials and friends of Mr. Kerry.
But the announcement will be delayed, at least until later this week and maybe beyond, because of the Connecticut school shooting and what one official called “some discomfort” with the idea of Mr. Obama’s announcing a national security team in which the top posts are almost exclusively held by white men.
Senator Brown’s involuntary retirement from public life will probably be cut short, in other words, if Kerry gets the nod. However, all that could change if this guy throws his hat into the ring -- a contingency I suspect most Republicans hope doesn’t come to fruition.
UPDATE - Well, this certainly makes things a little bit more interesting:
With the expectation that U.S. Senator John Kerry will be appointed Secretary of State, attention now focuses on who will be his successor. A new survey by the Emerson College Polling Society (ECPS) finds that Governor Deval Patrick ahead of U.S. Senator Scott Brown (48% to 43%) and former Governor William Weld (50% to 32%) in head-to-head matchups to succeed Kerry. Brown leads Vicki Kennedy, the widow of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, (46% to 40%). There was a 2.9 percent margin of error in the ECPS survey.
Felix Chen, chief analyst of the poll, pointed out that while Patrick may win the head-to-head contest, 38% of those surveyed believed Brown would be the next U.S. Senator, 14% named Patrick, followed by 10% selecting Attorney General Martha Coakley then Kennedy with 7%, and former Governor Weld with 3%.
It appears that Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D-NJ) -- who, you might recall, said during the last election cycle that Team Obama’s ruthless campaign tactics were “nauseating” -- will reportedly not challenge Governor Chris Christie in 2014, but instead will run for a seat in the U.S. Senate (via Politico):
Cory Booker likely won’t challenge New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in 2014 but instead launch a bid for a U.S. Senate seat, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
Citing three sources familiar with the matter, the Journal said Booker is eying the seat currently held by longtime Sen. Frank Lautenberg, an 88-year-old Democrat. The Journal reports the Newark mayor has been in discussions about launching an exploratory committee this week, and a Booker political operative did not comment for the story.
Recent polls showed Christie, a Republican, would be the favorite among New Jersey voters in that historically Democratic state, though Booker would be the governor’s toughest competitor. A Rutgers-Eagleton Institute of Politics poll conducted last month gave Christie an easy win over Booker, 53 percent to 34 percent. But about 13 percent of respondents did not pick either candidate.
Booker has slammed Christie as “vulnerable” to any Democrat, in a CNN interview this month. “And I think as it should be, because there’s a lot of issues in the state he’s not falling in line with, from women’s issues, from environmental issues, from really going in balanced way,” Booker said.
Funny, Booker asserts that Christie is “vulnerable” to any Democrat in 2014, and yet he himself -- perhaps the most widely respected Democrat in New Jersey -- will not challenge him. Go figure. Meanwhile, Governor Christie isn’t just well-liked in the Garden State; he’s developed a national reputation:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tops the GOP 2016 presidential field in favorability ratings, according to a poll out Tuesday.
Christie has a 55 percent favorability rating among registered voters, followed by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) with 46 percent and Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) with 45 percent, according to a national poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Christie is the only prospective candidate in the group who had a 50 percent approval among non-whites. Rubio came in second with 32 percent.
Even though concerned citizens were literally begging Governor Christie to run for president in 2012, he declined, citing inexperience and a desire to “finish the job in New Jersey.” Four years from now, however, those won’t be major issues. He is, it seems, slightly favored to win the 2016 Republican presidential nomination (that is, if he chooses to run) and his popularity with non-white voters (see above), is certainly not lost on those seeking to rebuild the GOP brand over the next four years.
Anyone who believes that the president’s proposed tax hikes on “the rich” will save our country from insolvency is grossly mistaken, and should begin to educate themselves by examining the graph below. Whoa:
This isn’t the least bit surprising, of course. We’ve seen this coming for a very long time. Barring major cuts to entitlement spending the country will go bankrupt. It’s not a possibility -- it’s an absolute certainty. Which is why I find all the “negotiations” surrounding raising taxes on “the rich” so reprehensible. The revenue generated from such a proposal -- as the graph above demonstrates -- will do virtually nothing to reduce the deficit, let alone balance the budget, and would only fund the government for about eight days. Put simply, the day of reckoning is nearly upon us (despite the actions of a certain leader which might suggest otherwise) and every freedom-loving American should be concerned.
It’s official: Michigan has become the 24th Right to Work state:
At a news conference at the George W. Romney Building steps away from the state Capitol, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) announced that he’d signed the contentious right-to-work measures that have sparked protests in the state.
Before dozens of reporters assembled inside a conference room on the building’s second floor, Snyder defended his move as one that would lead to ”more jobs coming to Michigan.”
The two bills bar unions from making contracts that require employees to pay labor dues. One bill dealt with public sector unions, exempting firefighters and police officers. The other covered the private sector.
“I view this as simply trying to get this issue behind us,” Snyder said of his decision to sign the measures the day they were passed. “And I recognize that people are going to be upset. There’ll be a continuation. But hopefully what’s really going to transpire over time is you’re going to see workers making a choice and you’ll see unions being held more accountable and responsive.”
Outside the building, while the news conference was underway, some few dozen protesters were still chanting in the frigid evening air. A few yelled out, “F*** Snyder!” Some held signs reading, “Right to work? For less!” and “I’ve got a bone to pick with a dirty rat named Rick.”
After Snyder finished speaking, protesters outside the building marched in a circle and chanted, “The people united can never be divided.” They were outnumbered by dozens of state police officers, many from other parts of Michigan, wearing helmets and riot gear.
Unsurprisingly, violence seems to have reached a fever pitch in the Wolverine State, and there’s simply no telling when it might stop.
When South Carolina’s junior Senator Jim DeMint unexpectedly announced last week that he would resign to head the Heritage Foundation in January, many wondered who Governor Haley would appoint to fill his soon-to-be vacated seat. Apparently, a plurality of Palmetto State voters, according to a recent PPP poll, wants to see comedian Stephen Colbert in the upper chamber. But that’s highly unlikely for a number of different reasons, of course, but especially because he didn’t even make the governor’s shortlist:
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) has finalized her shortlist of candidates to replace outgoing Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), according to a new report from CNN.
The list, which CNN says comes from a source close to Haley, includes five politicians who are close to Haley: Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), former state Attorney General Henry McMaster (R), former South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford (R) and Catherine Templeton, a conservative attorney Haley has picked to head the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.
One name notably not on the list: Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), who said last week he thought he was in the mix and sources say has been considering a Senate run.
The source said Haley's order of preference of the candidates is "still fluid."
CNN first reported the list in a story Haley refuted during a Tuesday afternoon press conference, according to local reports. She said only her husband knows who's on the list.
Scott has been the most buzzed-about name, and sources told The Hill last week that he is DeMint's preferred replacement. Sanford and McMaster were both major backers of Haley's gubernatorial run.
Governor Haley has stated publicly she will not appoint a “placeholder” -- that is to say, whomever she selects (if he or she so chooses) will be fully eligible to seek re-election in 2014. However, that appointee shouldn’t expect any help from his/her predecessor. Why? Because Senator DeMint -- in a recent interview -- told Politico that he will be “sitting on the sidelines” during the next election cycle:
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), the tea party leader who raised his profile taking on his party establishment in Senate primaries, will sit on the sidelines during the 2014 midterms when he becomes head of the Heritage Foundation.
"I am anxious to get away from the political angles, the partisan angles and focus on just the ideas," DeMint told POLITICO on Tuesday. "Hopefully candidates will embrace these ideas. But part of what we have to do is convince Americans that the ideas are right."
Asked if he would endorse candidates in primaries, DeMint flatly said: "No."
Okay, that’s not exactly what the former House Speaker said, but it’s pretty darn close:
“If [the Republicans'] competitor in ‘16 is going to be Hillary Clinton -- supported by Bill Clinton and presumably a still relatively popular President Barack Obama -- trying to win that will be [like winning] the Super Bowl. And the Republican Party today is incapable of competing at that level.”
Gingrich raises some interesting points. But while Hillary Clinton is indeed heavily favored to win the 2016 Democratic presidential primary (and her lifetime favorability rating -- today -- is sky high) her path to the White House is by no means certain. Over to you, Steve Chapman:
She has plenty of assets going for her if she decides to run. There are the fond memories of the pacific, profitable 1990s. There is her game willingness to go to work for the guy who beat her in 2008. There is the fact that voters may be ready to make history by electing a woman. She'd also get some campaign assistance from a famous native of Hope, Ark.
But she won't have the smooth, flower-strewn path to the Oval Office that all this suggests. During her husband's presidency, she was widely disliked for her hectoring manner, her more-liberal-than-Bill views and her often chilly personality. Not for nothing was she known in her college days as "Sister Frigidaire."
It's easy to forget that she was the architect of a major health insurance overhaul that ended in crashing failure. It's easy to forget that when the Monica Lewinsky affair broke, she dismissed the allegations as slanders from a "vast right-wing conspiracy" trying to "undo the results of two elections." It's easy to forget that she was the most unpopular first lady on record.
If she enters the race, we would be reminded of the strife and scandal of the Clinton presidency. We would also be reminded that electing Hillary would mean bringing back Bill, with his notorious appetites and unpredictable impulses.
One or two bimbo eruptions could be fatal -- and did you see that story the other day that Gennifer Flowers said he tried to renew their trysts?
The public seems to like Hillary a lot better when she's far removed from the presidency. The closer she gets the more distrust she evokes. When she ran in 2008, her popularity sagged. That's how she managed to lose a nomination that most people assumed was hers for the taking.
She is easier for people to take in the role of diplomat than politician. When she lectures dictators at the UN, voters tend to approve. When she lectures audiences in Iowa, they tend to bristle.
Read the whole thing. I would further add that Secretary Clinton apparently doesn’t even want to be the next president of the United States. She wants to retire -- and stay retired. However, if she suddenly changes her mind, I’m not too worried. Why? Because there's a number of young, up-and-coming Republican leaders who might just give her a run for her money.
I can’t say I’m totally surprised by New York Times columnist Helene Cooper’s comments on Meet the Press this morning. After all, the president won every single swing state on November 6th -- except North Carolina -- even after some of the most respected political pundits on the Right predicted he would lose his bid for re-election in a landslide (via The Weekly Standard):
"I think when you talk about the feeling at the White House, there's a palpable difference now compared to 2011 -- the summer of 2011. They are so much cockier right now at the White House than they were a year and a half ago when they were doing this. They really believe they’re have set out -- you come to us, we're not going to negotiate against ourselves. [Remember] the summer of 2011, when President Obama was perceived, and they believed at the White House, that he kept making concession after concession and didn't get anywhere? They are definitely not doing that now."
So cocky, in fact, that the president delivered (via his Treasury Secretary) a laughable and preposterous “compromise” to avert the looming “fiscal cliff”. Meanwhile, the White House continues to maintain that they will not negotiate with the opposition party -- unless, of course, Republicans agree to raise taxes on “the wealthy,” which the GOP leadership did. But if the nation goes cliff diving, as some liberals are all-too-eager to let happen -- there will be another recession -- and unemployment, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, will skyrocket. Earlier I noted that there are some benefits to the country going over the cliff (i.e., immediate spending cuts), but such positives are clearly outweighed by the problems a recession could cause. Thus, perhaps the president should learn some humility, because if the “fiscal cliff” talks fail, nothing could harm his presidential legacy more than four more years of economic stagnation.
After all of his seemingly endless campaign stops and harsh rhetoric about the rich not paying "their fair share," it turns out that the president’s proposed tax hikes on “the rich” will only raise enough revenue to run the government for about eight days. But that doesn’t really matter, of course, because it’s all about “fairness.” In other words, if Washington lawmakers are serious about reducing the federal deficit -- as they claim to be -- the real solution is that they must stop borrowing and spending money we don’t have. We cannot carry on like this indefinitely:
The federal government borrowed 46 cents of every dollar it has spent so far in fiscal year 2013, which began Oct. 1, according to the latest data the Congressional Budget Office released Friday.
The government notched a $172 billion deficit in November, and is already nearly $300 billion in the hole through the first two months of fiscal year 2013, underscoring just how deep the government’s budget problems are as lawmakers try to negotiate a year-end deal to avoid a budgetary “fiscal cliff.”
Higher spending on mandatory items such as Social Security, Medicare and interest on the debt led the way in boosting spending compared with the previous year, which also highlights the trouble spots Congress and President Obama are struggling to grapple with.
All sides agreed to discretionary spending cuts and automatic spending cuts last year, but have been unable to agree on ways to control entitlement costs, which are the long-term drivers of deficits and debt.
Even worse, perhaps, President Obama has run up four straight trillion dollar-plus deficits. And now -- surprise -- he’s on target to do it again.
The government is poised to post another $1 trillion deficit in fiscal year 2013, which would mark the fifth straight year. Before that, the record was $438 billion, which came in 2008, President George W. Bush’s last full year in office.
Congress and the White House are trying to hash out a long-term fiscal framework that could lead to higher taxes and limits on future spending.
Once again, the United States does not have a revenue problem. That's why I’m almost (but not entirely) persuaded to agree with those who openly suggest that “fiscal cliff” diving wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all. At least then we might be able to begin the process of getting our federal spending under control. Obviously, the status quo is utterly unacceptable, and we need to act now before it’s too late.
Carney: Okay Fine, Senior Officials Knew the IRS Report was Coming, but Nobody Told Obama | Guy Benson