The faltering presidential campaign of Rep. Michele Bachmann was dealt another blow Wednesday night when Kent Sorenson, her Iowa campaign chairman, turned up at a Ron Paul rally in Des Moines to announce he had left Bachmann and is supporting Paul. Just hours earlier Sorenson had been at a campaign event with Bachmann, Politico.com reported. The Iowa state senator appeared on stage just moments before Paul spoke, and announced his endorsement before a cheering crowd of about 500 at a rally billed as a veterans event.

The defection was more bad news for Bachmann, an Iowa native and member of Congress from Minnesota, who expected a home-field advantage in the neighboring state. But since surging to the top in polls last summer, she has sunk to single digits in recent surveys. She issued a statement Wednesday night, claiming Sorenson was bought off by the Paul campaign.

"Kent Sorenson personally told me he was offered a large sum of money to go to work for the Paul campaign," the Minnesota congresswoman said in a statement emphatically denied by the Paul camp. What made matters worse for Bachmann is that it was also disputed by her own Iowa political director, Wes Enos. Just after midnight Thursday morning, the Des Moines Register reported, the Paul campaign released a statement from Enos defending Sorenson and disputing Bachmann's charge.

A SuperPAC backing Representative Ron Paul's presidential campaign has just released a powerful new advertisement highlighting Paul's managerial strengths in his medical practice and subtly putting down last week's media frenzy surrounding his political newsletters.

Revolution PAC's video features James Williams, an African-American of Matagorda County, Texas, who brought his wife into the hospital in the early 1970s when her pregnancy suffered complications. Unable to find immediate medical assistance, possibly because of racism against inter-racial couples (his wife is white), Williams was at a loss as to what to do — until (as he puts it) Dr. Ron Paul came "to my rescue. He just stepped in and went to work with my wife." After delivering a still-born child, Paul told Williams he would take care of the bill — and he did. "I never got a bill from the hospital or anything," Williams recalls in the ad.

Dr. Paul had been attacked in the media recently because newsletters sent out under his name in the 1980s and 1990s had included a handful of racist remarks. Dr. Paul said he hadn't written the comments or seen them before they were published, but took responsibility for their being published and claimed he had mismanaged the newsletter business.

Following a less-than-spectacular holiday shopping season, two 20th century mainstays of America’s retailing culture appear to be a step closer to historical nostalgia. As reported by the Associated Press, the parent company of Sears and K-Mart announced that it is planning to close at least 100 stores, “a move that sparked speculation about whether the 125-year-old retailer can avoid a death spiral fed by declining sales and deteriorating stores.” AP reported that Sears Holdings Corp., “a pillar of American retailing that famously began with a mail-order catalog in the 1880s, declared Tuesday that it would no longer prop up ‘marginally performing’” Sears and K-Mart locations.

In 2005, following K-Mart’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, the two retail giants merged under the umbrella of Sears Holdings, and in the ensuing years the company has tried without much success to find a profitable niche for the hybrid retail partnership.

In the meantime, competitors Wal-Mart and Target have become nearly ubiquitous upon America’s urban landscape, slowly replacing aging and out-of-step Sears and K-Mart retailers with monster “super-stores” offering consumers cheaper merchandise, along with a full line of groceries, auto service, optical centers, barber and beauty services, and a combination of fast food restaurants and take-home pizza chains.
 

The results of the Associated Press’ survey of 36 Keynesian economists — economists who believe that government is the driving force behind a strong economy — are in: President Obama received just “mediocre marks” for his handling of the economy since his inauguration on January 20, 2009. Half of those surveyed rated his performance as “fair” while 13 rated it as “poor.” The remaining five gave the president a rating of “good.” None rated his performance as “excellent.”

The survey included explanations for why his performance was so poor even though he has surrounded himself with Keynesians. Some said he didn’t do enough: The stimulus wasn’t big enough. William Cheney, chief economist at John Hancock Financial Services, said Obama’s administration “generally tried to take the right kinds of measures but have often failed to lead with enough vigor to overcome political obstacles.”

Some said he tried to do too much and got distracted by hammering Congress into voting for his healthcare takeover. Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economics, said, “Health care wasn’t necessarily the most important thing to be dealing with when you’re in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression.”

An environmental group claiming to represent the stewardship concerns of evangelical Christians handed pro-abortion politicians and the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency a huge present just before Christmas. On December 21, as EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced the agency’s long-awaited stringent new regulations on mercury, the Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox, President and CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), was standing alongside her to show his organization’s support.

 

With the latest announcement of its sale of 16 newspapers, the New York Times continues to sell off assets to stay alive. The sale of its papers in Florida, South Carolina, and California is expected to generate a much-needed capital insertion of about $150 million, less than was expected. Those newspapers’ revenues had been steadily declining, falling another 7 percent for the first nine months of the year.

Just days before the sale was announced the Times' chief executive officer, Janet Robinson, also announced her retirement. She had been in the difficult position of trying to put a positive spin on bad news to the point where even comedian Jon Stewart took advantage of her woes in a short video clip.

 

The government of Japan and the communist dictatorship ruling mainland China announced a landmark agreement this week to facilitate trade between the two powers without using the U.S. dollar, relying instead on the Japanese yen and the Chinese yuan.

According to the terms of the deal, the two governments agreed to encourage trade directly in yen and yuan without having to use American dollars as an intermediary — the current practice. Companies in Japan and China will soon be able to convert the currencies directly. And the Japanese government also agreed to hold Chinese yuan in its foreign-reserves portfolio.

It remains unclear exactly how and when the agreement will be implemented. But according to news reports, both governments have already set up a working group to iron out the details. Officials said the move was aimed at reducing risk and transaction costs.

The new currency deal comes as the communist Chinese dictatorship has been taking increasingly bold steps to expand the international role of the yuan. The regime’s officials have also become ever-more vocal in attacking the dollar’s global reserve status, calling instead for a more international system managed by a world entity such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF). 
 

The stuff of establishment Republicans’ worst nightmares is now coming to pass: they can no longer depict Ron Paul as a “fringe” candidate. Even they have been compelled by events to acknowledge that the Texas Congressman could very well finish in first place in the Iowa caucuses.  

But it isn’t just that Ron Paul may take Iowa. Throughout these primaries, in spite of receiving less media coverage than any of the other candidates, Paul has succeeded in maintaining, for the most part, a third place showing. Every “frontrunner” except for the establishment’s favorite — Mitt Romney — has come and gone. Paul rates more favorably nationally among Republican voters than Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman, and Rick Santorum.

 

When Newt Gingrich said he would not vote for rival candidate Ron Paul if Paul wins the Republican presidential nomination, Gingrich may have forfeited whatever support he might receive from a sizable number of conservative and libertarian voters if the former Speaker of the House is himself the nominee.

Gingrich answered with and unqualified "No," when asked if he would vote for Paul if the 12-term Texas congressman were to emerge as the party's standard-bearer. "I think Ron Paul's views are totally outside the mainstream of virtually every decent American," Gingrich said Tuesday on CNN's The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. By its very nature the comment appears to impugn not only Paul, but his legions of supporters as well. The people who support Ron Paul share his views on most or all of the issues the candidate has been espousing in this and in previous campaigns. If those views are "outside the mainstream of virtually every decent American," then the unavoidable implication of Gingrich's statement is that "virtually" everyone who holds such views is not a "decent American." Should Gingrich emerge from the primary battles as the nominee, even those Paul supporters who hold the former speaker in "minimum high regard" might be loath to support the nominee who has, in effect, called them indecent.

National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Deborah Hersman has called for states to mandate a total ban on cellphone usage while driving. She has also encouraged electronics manufacturers — via recommendations to the CTIA —The Wireless Association and the Consumer Electronics Association — to develop features that "disable the functions of portable electronic devices within reach of the driver when a vehicle is in motion." That means she wants to be able to turn off your cellphone while you're driving.

With very little evidence, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claims that there were some 3,092 roadway fatalities last year that involved distracted drivers. Americans ought to totally reject Hersman's agenda. It's the camel's nose into the tent. Down the road, we might expect mandates against talking to passengers or putting on lipstick while driving. They may even mandate the shutdown of drive-in restaurants as a contributory factor to driver distraction through eating while driving. You say, "Come on, Williams, you're paranoid. There are already laws against distracted driving, and it would never come to that!" Let's look at some other camels' noses into tents.

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