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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Pennsylvania

GOP debate: Rick Perry vs. Mitt Romney, plus Gary Johnson and some dogs


If you believe pollster Frank Luntz's focus group in the post-game analysis on Fox News, Mitt Romney did himself a lot of good in Thursday's two-hour Fox News/Google GOP Debate, held in Orlando, Fla.

Nine candidates faced questions from FNC anchors Bret Baier, Chris Wallace and Megyn Kelly, and from citizens via YouTube and text messages: Gary Johnson, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain and Jon Huntsman Jr.

Baier mentioned Google had provided Fox News with a new "boop" sound to indicate a candidate had run over time, since the former bell raised the ire of dog owners (and apparently the volume of their pets' barking).

Speaking of dogs, former New Mexico Gov. Johnson, who hasn't been in a debate since the first one in May, got in the line of the evening, quipping, "My next-door neighbors' two dogs have created more shovel-ready jobs than this current administration."

It got a lot of laughs even though some people swear they've heard Rush Limbaugh tell the same yarn.

Not to be outdone in the canine arena, Georgia-born businessman Cain criticized....

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A moment of music to ponder those taken on 9/11 and since

For the fallen of 9/11 and all those since, a musical moment to remember and ponder with one of our favorite songs and one of our favorite voices, Anthony Kearns:


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Bush on 9/11: 'This is what war was like in the 21st century'

No president knows what will happen one moment after taking the oath of office, and that's especially true of wartime presidents.  

Abraham Lincoln surely never thought he'd be the man to shepherd a divided nation through a bloody Civil War. Franklin D. Roosevelt came into an economic crisis and then, after a fateful December day, wound up managing the United States in a conflict that spanned the globe.

GeorgeWBushThe911Interview_01 George W. Bush intended to be the "education president," continuing with reforms he'd started while governor of Texas.

But while sitting in an elementary-school classroom in Florida on Sept. 11, 2001, listening to a lesson, he was given the news that a second airliner had crashed into the World Trade Center towers in lower Manhattan.

The United States, clearly, was under attack.

On Sunday, Aug. 28, two weeks before the 10th anniversary of that day (in other words, today), National Geographic Channel premieres "George W. Bush: The 9/11 Interview," a one-hour documentary on the former president recalling the events of that day, and the days afterward, with clips and photos.

"Sept. 11 is a monumental day in our nation's history," he says, "a significant day, and it obviously changed my presidency. I went from being a president that was primarily focused on domestic issues to a wartime president. It's something I never anticipated nor something I ever wanted to be."

Later, aboard Air Force One, with spotty communications and only intermittent access to TV reports, Bush and his staff received conflicting stories about what was happening. But doing nothing was not an option.

"I was experiencing the fog of war," says Bush. "We didn't know....

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Pawlenty's gone, so who's the next Republican to fold?


Rick Santorum waits to speak at Lincoln Day Dinner Black Hawk County Iowa 8-14-11

Most of the attention on the Black Hawk County Lincoln Dinner Sunday night was focused on two speakers -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the newest entrant in the Republican presidential race, and Rep. Michele Bachmann, the Waterloo native who felt the need to appear too once Perry's attendance was confirmed.

Perry, who's now surged to a double-digit lead in the GOP field in one new poll, came early, schmoozed from table to table, took his turn with the microphone and listened to all the other speakers, including an interminable presentation by a Lincoln lookalike.

Bachmann, who won the Ames Straw Poll, came late, demanded different lighting, missed her entrance cue and talked briefly with attendees.

But there was another candidate in the Electric Park Ballroom, former two-term Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, the Rodney Dangerfield of the GOP field so far in 2011.

When his turn arrived, Santorum ignited audience laughter when he said that as the evening's undercard, he was expected to speak briefly.

So he did.

Will he be the next GOP campaign dropout? Santorum finished fourth at Ames, worse even than Pawlenty, who said he needed a strong showing to maintain sufficient donor interest. The Minnesotan didn't get it and pulled the plug the next day on his substantial Iowa ground operation.

But Santorum had much less invested in Iowa, other than miles and time. And fourth place for him seemed better than expected. So he postponed his return to Pennsylvania and went to the Waterloo dinner to continue his quiet guerrilla struggle for support as a conservative alternative to Mitt Romney in hopes that Perry and Bachmann somehow knock each other off.

Santorum pecks away at Bachmann much as Pawlenty did, for her alleged lack of congressional accomplishments, and at Perry for his seemingly diffident same-sex marriage stance.

Or what about Herman Cain, the pizza godfather? Probably not, not yet anyway.

Gallup compiles what it calls a Positive Intensity Score, a measure of a candidate's strength of support. Although he regularly polls down in the pack, Cain's intensity is the highest among Republicans, 25. Next already is Perry's at 23 followed by Bachmann at 20 and usual poll leader and top moneyraiser Romney stuck at 15. The undeclared Sarah Palin also has 15 and Rudy Giuliani has 20.

Ron Paul finished a close second at Ames and his devoted disciples wouldn't let him quit even if he was discouraged by his disappointing intensity score of 11.

According to the same score, the weakest remaining GOP candidate now is Newt Gingrich at only three. But his debate appearances help his other business, selling books, DVDs and maintaining his speaking fees.

Jon Huntsman's intensity score is only four and Santorum's isn't much better at six. So, watch for one of them to fade, especially if Santorum's fundraising stalls back home.


Could Ron Paul win the Iowa caucuses?

Americans downgrade Congress to historic low 13% job approval

For Perry, Bachmann and Romney, it's all about the hands -- and eyes

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images (Santorum, the one without a hat, waits to speak at the Black Hawk County Lincoln Dinner, Aug. 14).

Weekly remarks: GOP's Pat Toomey says regs kill jobs; Obama says new jobs his top priority

Capitol Hill

Weekly remarks by Sen. Pat Toomey, as provided by Republican Party leadership

Hi, I’m Senator Pat Toomey from the great state of Pennsylvania, and I’m pleased to have this opportunity to share a few thoughts with you today.

Like a lot of Americans all around the country, I’m deeply concerned about the lack of job growth and our stagnant economy. 

Now President Obama inherited a weak economy, but by nearly every measure, he has made the economy worse. Over two years ago, his administration told us that passing his $787 billion stimulus bill would keep unemployment below 8 percent.

Instead, since the stimulus was enacted, our economy has lost more than 1.3 million jobs and the unemployment rate has averaged over 9 percent.

Today, fewer people are working; gas prices are higher; home values are lower; wages are weaker; healthcare is more expensive; taxes are heading higher and our federal deficits are much larger than when President Obama took office.

Clearly, the policies of this administration are not working.

So, what went wrong? Well, a big part of the problem has been job-killing regulations. Every....

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Late-night jokes: 'Cowboys & Aliens' is not about California farming

Cowboys & Aliens poster

As The Ticket's 69,000-plus Twitter followers here and 7,000 Facebook friends/fans here know, we regularly share our daily picks of the late-night jokes of interest, usually before broadcast each night. Feel free to pass them on to friends using the "Share" buttons above.

Fallon: In an interview, President Obama says he wants a ‘debt ceiling deal’ for his 50th birthday. Then he said, ‘Or an iPad.’

Letterman: Looks like they might get a debt limit deal down in Washington. They're going to raise it $2.5 trillion. Thanks a lot, Oprah.

Leno: Moody's Investors Service is talking about lowering the U.S. credit rating -- from 'AAA' down to 'LOL.'

Conan: Forecasters warn the temperature in Washington could surpass 100 degrees. Republicans vow to hold it below 96.

Conan: The American space shuttle program is over after 30 years. NASA will now have to pay Russia $63 million to fly every U.S. astronaut into space. Another $15 million if he checks a bag.

Leno: Your federal government at work: The FAA has ordered the owner-pilot of his ownAtlantis last Launch 7-8-11 one-helicopter company to give himself a surprise random drug test.

Leno: Daniel Craig is here tonight to talk about Cowboys & Aliens. No, not California farming. It’s his new movie called 'Cowboys & Aliens.'

Fallon: Philadelphia has a new plan to ticket pedestrians texting without looking as they walk. As opposed to the previous punishment -– lampposts.

Fallon: Microsoft has announced that Hotmail users will no longer be able to use the email password, ‘123456.’ In a related story, millions of morons just changed their password to ‘234567.’

Leno: According to a new survey by Charles Schwab, 6% of teenagers expect their parents to support them financially forever. I believe they are called 'philosophy majors.'

Fallon: The postal service will soon offer online previews of 2012 stamps. Finally answering the question –- ‘What’s more boring than stamps?'

Leno: A lot of campaign talk these days about Republican candidates with headaches called migraines. But Obama has one too, called Joe Biden.

Fallon: A new study says only 20% of high school seniors are proficient in geography. But students are not bothered by that. Only 3% are proficient in math.


Obama's new eco0nomic plan: Buy lottery tickets and hope

Great Wall of China model for U.S. border with Mexico

Seeking better economic advice, Obama opts for Magic 8-Ball

-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle.Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo illustration: "Cowboys & Aliens"; Jay Catalano (Atlantis' last launch, July 8).

Budget? What budget? Obama talks energy in Philadelphia before an Al Sharpton gala in New York

Obama and Al Sharpton greet the NYC banquet crowd 4-6-11

With the Friday government shutdown looming over no continuing budget agreement, President Obama was out of town again today, holding a spirited town hall meeting on energy before an admiring audience in Philadelphia. (See full transcript below.)

In his remarks the president painted a dire picture of lost services if the government shut down because some other people couldn't reach a budget agreement. And he said a government closure could affect the economic recovery that is so tardy in arriving despite all the stimulus spending.

Then the the Democrat flew up to New York City to speak to a gala banquet staged by the Rev. Al Sharpton. (See photos, and no, Al is not president yet.) During the day the president had Press Secretary Jay Carney say that the Obama administration is "encouraged" by Senate actions to "protect" the Clean Air Act. Tuesday Carney was also tasked to warn the president of Yemen about his forceful treatment of protestors, as described here.

Al Sharpton with the presidential seal warms up the New York crowd for Obama 4-6-11Carney also told reporters traveling to the banquet that the president had three-minute phone conversations with Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat.

Carney said the president had been assured progress was being made on negotiating a continuing budget resolution to avert a federal government shutdown Friday when the latest three-week budget expires.

Halfway through the 2011 fiscal year there is no federal budget because the Democratic-controlled Congress was busy with other priorities last summer and fall. Since midterm election voters overwhelmingly turned the House over to the GOP on Nov. 2, the Republicans now have more leverage to enact their agenda of reining in Democratic spending.

Carney said this afternoon, however, that somehow the president had become convinced that not enough progress was being made and he had summoned Boehner and Reid to a White House meeting late this evening after the president's return from the awards banquet.

(UPDATE: 9:44 p.m. PT Late Wednesday night Obama said his get-together with Boehner and Reid had been productive, progress was made and staffs would continue working through the night. He again pronounced himself confident a deal was doable "if we're serious about getting something done.")

Meanwhile, the National Journal reported the hands-off president had....

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Guest blogger John Phillips at CPAC on Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin and Donald

Caricatures of prominent Democrats at CPAC convention in Washington 2-10-11

As a special pre-Valentines treat, The Ticket invited popular Los Angeles talk-show host John Phillips to guest-blog on his impressions of the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington this week.

That's an annual gathering with speakers who want to be seen as conservatives and often as possible presidential candidates, at least in their own eyes. The convention is available live online here.

Here's Phillips' first report, hopefully not his last:

When you put G. Gordon Liddy, conservative activists and free booze in one Washington hotel, you either have trouble brewing at the Watergate or a meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference.  Since Richard Nixon is long gone, we can confirm that CPAC has set up shop in the nation's capital.

The Marriott Wardman Park Hotel is where all the action is late this week. if you're planning on stopping by, here's a word of advice: make sure the cab driver takes....

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Overwhelming majority of Americans in both parties tell GOP to heed the 'tea party'

Bachmann Michele SOTU response 1-25-11

Remember that Constitution-citing "tea party" rabble that puzzled the media so terribly last year and helped dump so many deaf Democrats from the House of Representatives in November?

Turns out, an overwhelming percentage of adult Americans think Republicans should take heed of the upstart movement's positions and concerns as they plot to dump President Obama and even more Democrats come the 2012 election, now just 645 days away.

A new Gallup Poll out this morning finds that 71% of Americans, even many who do not think highly of the "tea party," say it's important that Republicans should take the its positions into account.

Gallup appears puzzled by its findings: While only 6% of Democrats call themselves "tea party" supporters and only 11% hold a favorable view of it, more than half of Democrats still....

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Post-Tucson, will Dick Cheney's quote give Obama cover for a State of the Union gun control measure?

Tucson shooting Memorial Crowd 1-13-11

The emotional aftermath of the recent Tucson shootings saw the usual calls for tighter restrictions on guns from the usual Democratic suspects.

It also saw a surge in sales of guns, possibly by people anticipating further limits.

California's Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer wants tighter restrictions on who can carry concealed weapons.

Maryland Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer says legislation controlling super-sized ammunition clips up to 33 cartridges could save lives by curtailing the length of rapid-firing. The Tucson shooter got off 19 rounds.

And New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, who lost her husband to a shooter on a commuter train in 1993, introduced legislation this week to limit ammo clips to....

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
Republican Politics
Democratic Politics



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