With the Iowa caucuses just two weeks away, Ron Paul has taken the lead in two caucus forecasts — a development that has the GOP establishment on edge. A December 18 Public Policy Polling survey found that the Texas Congressman was the choice of 23 percent of likely Republican caucus voters. Mitt Romney came in second at 20 percent, with Newt Gingrich in third at 14 percent and Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum tied at 10 percent. “Someone else/Not sure” was next at 7 percent, followed by Jon Huntsman at 4 percent and Gary Johnson at 2 percent. Gingrich was the biggest loser in the poll, having plunged from 27 percent support three weeks ago to 14 percent now. In addition, he possesses the highest “unfavorable” rating of any candidate in the race (47 percent). Paul, meanwhile, led the pack on the positive side with 54 percent of voters viewing him favorably. On matters of principle, Paul, not surprisingly, is the champion in voters’ minds. Seventy-three percent said he has strong principles, while only 50 percent thought the same of Romney and 36 percent of Gingrich. (The question was not asked about the other candidates.)
Is it certain that the nations of the European Union are heading for a hard fall? It certainly looks that way. When the overspending of governments such as Greece, Portugal, and Ireland were involved, the threat to the euro was real, but it could be psychologically contained (an important factor in maintaining the stability of financial institutions). Those three nations, after all, are small. Spain, the fourth member of the “PIGS,” was more than half the size of the Italian economy, but much of the industrialized West has viewed Mediterranean nations as inherently volatile. Two months ago, however, Italy — one of the largest economies in the world — had its sovereign debt downgraded by Standard & Poor’s and then by Moody’s, which reduced the bond rating for Italian government bonds by three notches. The GDP of those five nations — Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain — equal about $3.7 trillion, or more than 20 percent of the economy of the European Union. The latest news is that France could have its AAA credit rating downgraded before Christmas. Standard & Poor’s is expected to make that decision imminently.
Due to new federal air pollution regulations, more than 32 power plants across the country will be forced to close their doors, according to a recent Associated Press survey. Those plants, which are mostly coal-fired, discharge enough electricity to supply more than 22 million households, the survey notes, and their closure will lead to job layoffs, depleted tax revenues, and a considerable hike in electric bills. The areas that will be hit hardest are the Midwest and in the coal belt (Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky), where dozens of plants will likely be retired. Two regulations are in question: One aims to curb air pollution in states downwind from pollutant-heavy power plants; and the second, which was finalized last week, would enact the first standards for mercury, acid gas, and other pollutants from plant smokestacks. In total, the new regulations could eliminate more than eight percent of coal-fired generation nationwide. AP’s survey, the first of its kind, looked at the analyses by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of plant retirements and interviewed 55 power plant operators about the effects on power supply and about their plans to deal with the new regulations.
Despite the best efforts of the establishment media, Ron Paul’s campaign for President is gaining momentum nationwide as his “unorthodox” views are becoming more widely disseminated and understood by an American public slavering for salvation from the economic and moral abyss toward which the country is slouching. There are some on the Right, however, who refuse to join the revolution. Because of his strictly constitutional interpretation of all major issues, Ron Paul has been called “pro-choice state by state" by an influential pro-life organization. This is disingenuous at best and deceitful at worst. Ron Paul is unqualifiedly in favor of affording the full panoply of legal rights to the unborn. In fact, he is so ardently opposed to abortion that earlier this year he declared the right to life “the most important issue of our age.”
Vaclav Havel, a Czech playwright and political figure who became Czechoslovakia’s President following a non-violent uprising in 1989 that ended decades of Soviet rule in that country, died December 18 at the age of 75. Almost immediately upon news of his passing, eulogies lionizing Havel as one of the great “liberators” of the 20th century began flooding the print, broadcast, and Internet media. Radio Prague hailed Havel as an anti-communist dissident who spent five years in Soviet prisons before being seated as his country’s President in the wake of the 1989 “Velvet Revolution” that dismantled the oppressive communist regime. It also described how Havel helped lead a re-vitalized Czechoslovakia into two separate entities — the Czech Republic and Slovakia — continuing as the Czech Republic President until 2003.
On Monday, Gordon Chang, the author of The Coming Collapse of China and regular contributor at Forbes.com, was interviewed on Yahoo’s Daily Ticker, where he observed, “If you look at all of [China’s] indicators, they all point down.” Among those indicators were electricity consumption (flat), car sales (flat), property prices (collapsing), and industrial orders (down). And there is more to come, much more. The Chinese communist government is slowing the rate of growth of the money supply in order to “fight inflation,” the natural result of nearly 30 years of expanding that money supply in order to catapult the Chinese agrarian economy into the 21st century. And such slowing is having the same expected effect: As the economy slows down, bankruptcies increase, tax revenues decrease, and the economy slows down further. Chang added, “We’ll see more obvious signs of deterioration in the Chinese economy over the next six months.” He noted that one of those signs is the increasing civil unrest including riots, bombings, and insurrections taking place across the country.
As GOP presidential contender Ron Paul is increasingly becoming a threat to the establishment and to big government advocates on both ends of the political spectrum, some members of his opposition are preparing dirty tactics to thwart him. The secretive hacker group Anonymous, for instance, has already vowed to disrupt the January 3 vote in the Iowa caucuses, which Paul seems poised to win. Though Paul was initially almost wholly ignored by most politicians and the mainstream media, and treated as though he was a fringe, unviable candidate, he has surged in popularity in poll after poll. Now ignoring him is no longer an option. According to the most recent Public Policy Poll (PPP), Ron Paul is firmly in first place in Iowa, with 23 percent of the vote, followed by Mitt Romney, with 20 percent, and Gingrich, with just 14 percent of supporters.
According to United Wisconsin, the group behind effort to recall Governor Scott Walker, as of December 19 volunteers had collected 507,533 of the 540,208 signatures needed to force the special gubernatorial election. The group has hopes of collecting over 720,000 signatures, which “would represent 33 percent of the 2010 general election turnout and nearly 21 percent of all Wisconsin registered voters,” reported Reuters News. The signatures will have to be submitted to the state’s Government Accountability Board (GAB) to verify before the recall effort can proceed. GAB officials estimate the process itself could take more than a month.
Debate over the payroll tax cut remains heated as House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) demanded from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) a year-long tax cut. The challenge threw another wrench into the negotiations on the deal, which, if not reached by the New Year, will result in an increase in payroll taxes as the present payroll tax reduction expires.
A distorted account of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul's "town hall" meeting in New Hampshire Monday evening appeared on the ABC News political blog, "The Note. The report, written by Jason Volock, appeared under the headline, "Ron Paul Attacked for Views on Health Care." The lead sentence reads: "Ron Paul's views on health care came under fire tonight at a campaign stop in New Hampshire, where his position on eliminating Medicaid was met with open hostility from the audience." The article does contain a few points of accuracy. The candidate was Ron Paul and the state was New Hampshire. It was a campaign stop and there was an audience, made up of about 150 people at the Executive Court in Manchester. And there was a question about the candidate's position on Medicaid. But the woman who asked the question in no way appeared to be "up in arms," as the reporter described her. Nor was her question hostile. "Skeptical" would have been a far more accurate description, though the word fails to convey the sense of dramatic confrontation for which Mr. Volock was so obviously striving.