Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dear Washington Post: Ron Paul Is NOT a Champion of Civil Liberty (Updated)



[This article is now on Huffington Post.]

Washington Post "factchecker" Josh Hicks gives Ron Paul high marks for consistency. Hicks claims that Paul's proposals and voting record are 100% consistent with his political rhetoric. This conclusion, however, is woefully incorrect.

Ron Paul (along with his many fans) describes himself as a champion of civil liberties. Paul also embraces an extremely narrow conception of federal power. These two positions, however, do not always co-exist peacefully.  Consequently, Paul has sponsored legislation that would imperil the very civil liberties he claims to endorse.

Consider for example Paul's sponsorship of the We the People Act. This bill, if passed, would have dreadful consequences for the protection of civil liberties. The proposal would prohibit the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, from deciding cases challenging state laws that implicate:

1. the free exercise or establishment of religion;

2. the right of privacy, including issues of sexual practices, orientation, or reproduction; or

3. the right to marry without regard to sex or sexual orientation where based upon equal protection of the laws.

The proposal would also prohibit the federal courts from issuing rulings that "interfere[] with the legislative functions or administrative discretion of the states." Also, the bill, if passed, would "negate[] as binding precedent on the state courts any federal court decision that relates to an issue removed from federal jurisdiction by this Act."

Let's sort through the legalese. The bill would curtail civil liberties in several ways. First, it would remove all cases involving freedom of religion and the establishment of religion from the federal courts. This could harm liberty in a couple of ways. For example, if a state infringed an individual's or church's right to exercise religion, the federal courts could not intervene to redress the wrong. Only state courts could do so. On the other hand, if an individual claimed that the state had unlawfully subjected him or her to religious practice (say, by mandating that a student pray a Christian prayer in school or profess a belief in god), that individual could not pursue redress in the federal courts.  Because states still violate these constitutional rights, Paul's proposal would allow these practices to remain in place, unless state courts sided with plaintiffs.

The bill's most dangerous provision would strip the federal courts of jurisdiction in right of privacy cases. The Supreme Court has held that the Constitution establishes a right of privacy. This is great example of libertarianism. Unless individual behavior harms another person or the public, then the government needs a pressing reason for regulating it. Although the right of privacy protects individual liberty, Paul would keep the federal courts out of this important constitutional area.

As a consequence, federal courts could not decided the constitutionality of state laws that unlawfully regulate (or even prohibit) the use of contraception, restrict or ban abortion, or that deny marriage to same-sex couples. States could also ban adult consensual oral sex, anal sex, premarital sex and a host of other practices that fall within the right of privacy without any check from the federal courts.

Furthermore, the portion of the bill that would negate the applicability of any precedent prohibited by the statute would mean the immediate demise of Roe v. Wade -- a case that Paul the purported libertarian opposes. It would also mean that many other important rulings, such as cases protecting parental rights, family privacy, the right to marry, and the right to refuse medical treatment would suddenly lose all value as precedent in cases challenging state laws.

Moreover, the bill's vague language that would prohibit federal courts from issuing any ruling that would interfere with the "legislative functions or administrative discretion of the states" could enable dangerous restraints on civil liberty. For example, if a state legislature banned women from voting, the bill could prevent a court from enjoining the statute. While a court might find this law unconstitutional, it could not enjoin enforcement of it. Enforcement of rights, however, is essential to liberty itself. Without remedies, rights have no value.

Finally, even though Paul's opposition the War on Drugs and various practices involving the US military (like indefinite detention, etc.) is clearly rooted in libertarianism, his preference for state protection of rights would imperil liberty. So, while Paul opposes the federal government's War on Drugs, Paul is silent with respect to similar wars being waged in the states. This silence is striking in light of the fact that states prosecute most crimes in this nation. As president, however, Paul would not question impediments to civil liberty in the states. This omission, though consistent with his extreme views of federalism, make it impossible for him wear the libertarian label. Ron Paul is not a champion of liberty. The Washington Post is wrong.

Note: Some of this discussion is drawn from a previous article on Dissenting Justice, Five Reasons Why Ron Paul Should NEVER Become President.

UPDATE
One interesting thing about the We the People Act is the selective exclusion of only certain issues from federal court review. Paul chooses the right of privacy and the religion clauses. In so doing, he is picking the very clauses involved in progressive liberties cases with which the religious right vehemently disagrees. This is rather convenient for a Republican candidate. Paul's selective libertarianism would be a boon for social conservatives.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New York Times and Washington Post Articles on Congress and Wealth: Simplistic Statistical Analysis

Yesterday, the New York Times and the Washington Post published articles reporting a dramatic difference in wealth among members of Congress and the general public. Both articles show a widening wealth gap. While wealth among the general public has declined in the last two decades, it has risen for members of Congress (see Dissenting Justice analysis).

The articles both question whether wealthy individuals can properly lead the nation. The subtext, which is not so subtle in the New York Times article, implies that simply being a member of Congress creates wealth. And many readers have concluded that corruption, inside deals, insider trading, and other improper conduct explain the wealth among members of Congress.

Although these articles raise important issues, they fail because they do not analyze important issues that could explain the wealth disparities. Instead, the articles only isolate one factor for examination: the wealth of persons inside and outside of Congress. These populations, however, have many characteristics -- especially the general public.  The articles, however, do not control for any other factors that could account for a wealth disparity.

For example, a good statistical study of this issue would control for race, gender, age, educational achievement, investment behavior, and other factors that correlate with wealth (see previous article on Dissenting Justice). It is unclear whether members of Congress have greater wealth than persons with similarly situated individuals outside of Congress. Because of this failing, the articles leave the impression that membership in Congress alone explains the wealth gap.  This problem could erode the public's trust in government, which is already suffering according to opinion polls.

The Washington Post and New York Times should update these articles with more sophisticated statistical analysis. The articles both raise important questions. But, they fail to establish a solid factual foundation for engaging in an informed -- or useful -- dialogue.

Note: An updated version of my earlier discussion of this issue is now on the Huffington Post.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

NYT Article on Congress and Wealth: More Context Please



The New York Times has published an interesting article on the wealth disparity among members of Congress and the average person in the US. The article reports that the median net worth of members of Congress is $913,000. The article does not provide the spread or the average net worth, however. The article also reports that the net worth of nearly one-half of the members of Congress exceeds $1,000,000.

The median net worth of members of Congress increased 15 percent between 2004 and 2010. The median net worth of Americans, generally, declined 10 percent during the same time period.

The article demonstrates that members of Congress have been insulated from the harmful impact of the economic downturn. The most damning analysis in the article, however, suggests that members of Congress might benefit from "inside" information when they invest money in securities. One study cited in the article concludes that investments made by members of Congress tend to outperform the market (it is unclear which market the study analyzed). Another study, however, found that the investments of members of Congress perform worse that the general investing public.

The Article Needs More Context

Although there are weaknesses in the article, it is probably safe to say that members of Congress are wealthier than the average American. The article, however, lacks a lot of information that could put this data into a more informative context.

Race, Gender and Congress

The biggest failure of the article is the omission of an analysis of the personal characteristics of members of Congress. Congress is disproportionately white and male. In the United States, these two characters correlate strongly with wealth.

There are 44 African-Americans in the House of Representatives and none in the Senate. There are 26 Latinos in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate. There are 74 women in the House of Representatives and 17 in the Senate. Two of the African-American House members are nonvoting delegates, as are two of the Latino members.

There are 13 Asian-American, Pacific Islander or Native Hawaiian members of Congress. 11 are in the House, of whom 2 are nonvoting delegates; 2 are Senators. There is only one Native American in Congress -- a member of the House of Representatives.

Blacks and Latinos are consistently poorer than whites in the US.  Furthermore, the wealth of blacks and Latinos has decreased much more sharply than the wealth of whites during the current recession. Women-headed households are also the poorest in the nation - especially households headed by women of color.

This racial and gender data provides a useful setting for thinking about the wealth data of members of Congress. Of course, several persons of color and women in Congress also possess great wealth (e.g., Nancy Pelosi, who is white, and Ed Pastor, who is male). Nonetheless, members of Congress could have disproportionate wealth because they are disproportionately white and male.

Other Relevant Personal Factors

Age

Other factors are relevant to this discussion. Members of Congress are not young. The median age in the House is 50; in the Senate it is 62. The median age in the US, however, is roughly 37.  Accordingly, members of Congress have had more time to accumulate wealth than the average person living in the US.

Former Employment

Members of Congress are also drawn from high-income professions. Most members of Congress are lawyers. Public servants/politicians and business professions rank second and third behind lawyers. There are also 17 medical doctors in Congress.

Educational Attainment

Members of Congress also have greater educational attainment than members of the general public. 92 percent of the House and 99 percent of the Senate have a bachelor's degree. 36 percent of the House and 55 percent of the Senate have law degrees. 18 members of the House have earned a Ph.D. 24 members of Congress have medical degrees. These numbers are up substantially from statistics in 1969.

By contrast, 87% of the US population above the age of 25 has a high school diploma, but only 30 percent of that demographic has a bachelor's degree. Less than 3 percent of that demographic has a doctoral or professional degree. If the entire US population were included, the percentages would, obviously, decline. Because wealth and education correlate strongly (in both directions), it is not surprising that members of Congress possess greater wealth than the average person in the US.

Wealth and Politics

Political scientists have for a long time debated the relationship between money and electoral success. According to conventional wisdom, wealthier candidates, or those candidates closely connected to wealthy individuals and corporations, enjoy more electoral success than economically disadvantaged candidates.

Several studies have challenged this conventional wisdom. Some research indicates that higher individual wealth or massive campaign donations do not influence election outcomes. Other research, however, presents a more qualified conclusion. It appears that wealth might give candidates an advantage if they are not well known or do not receive media attention. These candidates can purchase advertisements to acquire name recognition (Stephen J. Wayne, a professor of Political Science at Georgetown University, has written on this subject. See, Wayne, The Road to the White House).

Once inequality of name recognition subsides, however, some research finds that money does not substantially impact election success. This data, nonetheless, implies some connection between money and political success.

Summary

This essay does not contest the suggestion that the members of Congress can use their status as members of Congress to generate personal wealth. But this hypothesis requires more analysis than the NYT article provides.

Other explanations, such a race, gender, age, educational disparities, employment background, and pre-existing wealth (that relates to electoral success) likely explain a lot or all of the wealth disparities among members of Congress and the general public. These issues are extremely important points for public debate.

Update


Another important factor is likely investment risk tolerance. Investment in risky assets generally provides higher returns over the longterm. Studies have shown that wealthier folks, men, whites and higher educated investors have higher risk tolerance.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dear Newt Gingrich: Judicial Supremacy Does Not Exist

Adam Liptak of the New York Times has written an article on Newt Gingrich's views of the federal courts. The article basically contains the same information as an earlier report by the Washington Post (see analysis on Dissenting Justice). There is, however, an additional point.

Gingrich condemns what he calls "judicial supremacy." By that, I suspect that he means (the article does not explain, but this is a well known debate among legal scholars) the notion that the Supreme Court has the last word on questions of constitutional law. Gingrich cites to Cooper v. Aaron for that proposition. Decided in 1958, Cooper arose out of the standoff over desegregation in Little Rock, Arkansas. State officials argued that they did not believe segregation was unconstitutional, and they claimed that states could nullify rulings of the Court. The Supreme Court, however, said that its ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas stated a constitutional principle, and that the Supreme Court's doctrine on the constitution is binding and controlling as constitutional law.

Many commentators argue that Cooper went beyond Marbury v. Madison (which established judicial review), and in many ways, this is a reasonable observation. But if Gingrich is really concerned about activist and imperialist judges, he could have pointed to much earlier precedent. In the early 1900s, the Court began to apply a very rigorous standard of review in cases challenging various economic and labor regulations. This infamous period is known as the Lochner era (named for Lochner v New York, a 1905 case that struck down a New York labor law in the baking industry). During the Lochner era, the Court invalidated over 200 laws - much more than during any other 3-decade period.

The Court would continue its conservative approach until the New Deal era, when it struck down several pieces of popular legislation that FDR promoted to deal with the impact of the Great Depression. Roosevelt's critiques of the Court, the terrible state of the economy, the popularity of economic legislation, and personnel changes on the Court led to a major shift in direction. The Court suddenly began applying a more relaxed standard and overruled the restrictive case law from the Lochner era.

The overruling of Lochner disproves the entire idea of judicial supremacy. While Supreme Court interpretation of the Constitution binds state and federal governments, its rulings do not end the debate over the meaning of the Constitution. Instead, the Court responds to politics, public opinion, social conditions, social movement activity, and other factors outside of mere judgment. Indeed, the involvement of the president and the senate in the appointments process ensures that the Court will reflect majoritarian or at least mainstream values.

Gingrich's rant on judicial supremacy is uninformed. It is also simply a reflection of his own ideological commitments. He limits his criticism to liberal opinions -- not conservative rulings that coincide with his own ideology.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Obama and Gay Issues

The Politico has an article on President Obama and his "pitch to gay voters." The article discusses the sometimes tumultuous relationship between Obama and the LGBT social movement community. The article quotes many commentators who discuss what Obama can do to energize LGBT voters. Some commentators encourage him to endorse same-sex marriage. Others point out that he has done more to advance LGBT rights than any other president. I have responses to both of these observations.

Same-Sex Marriage: Do Not Expect An Endorsement

First, on the subject of same-sex marriage, I doubt that Obama will publicly endorse same-sex marriage before the 2012 election. Things could change, but if public opinion remains relatively constant on this issue leading into November, Obama's position will remain the same ("I do not support it, but I do not support laws banning it"). If his opinion evolves, it could become "I support it, but I believe this is a matter for states to decide" or simply "This is a matter for states to decide."

Why all of the doubt? Most opinion polls show that a majority of the public opposes same-sex marriage. While opposition is the highest among conservative voters, liberals and moderates also oppose marriage equality. Some recent opinion polls (see Politico article) show that a slim majority of the public approves of same-sex marriage, but these polls contradict the results of most other surveys.

In order to win the election, President Obama needs black and Latino voters to come out in droves and support him again. No Democratic presidential candidate has won a majority of white voters since 1964; this statistic applies to Obama as well.

Black and Latino voters were instrumental in delivering several key states to Obama, including Florida, New Mexico, Colorado, Ohio, and North Carolina. Same-sex marriage is not a key issue among these voter.

Also, it is unclear whether (and doubtful that) LGBT voters constitute a swing vote in any tough race for Obama. Moreover, pro-LGBT voters probably will not run from Obama if he does not support same-sex marriage.

Politics is about strategy more than ideology. If Obama believes he can win without endorsing same-sex marriage -- which was true in 2008 -- he will decline to do so.

Obama Has Done More For LGBT Rights Than Any Other President

Commentators who defend Obama often argue that he has done more for LGBT rights than any other president. The claim has some validity. During his presidency, Obama has encouraged and secured the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  The Department of Justice has stopped defending the Defense of Marriage Act and now considers it unconstitutional. Also, Obama has advocated extending federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. Pro-LGBT individuals should certainly applaud these developments and Obama for overseeing them.

Nevertheless, the observation regarding Obama's contributions to gay rights bothers me for two reasons. First, this argument discounts the role that social movement actors played in generating these changes. Presidents do not simply change policies to help disadvantaged groups because they are benevolent. Instead, they respond to pressure from and changes in the political climate caused by social movement activity.

LGBT social movement actors have been among Obama's most vocal liberal critics. They have also managed to influence public opinion on LGBT issues. Accordingly, it is not surprising that Obama has modified and taken a stance against antigay policies.

The observation about Obama's contributions to gay rights is also troubling because it is ahistorical. In the past, the changes that have recently occurred with respect to LGBT rights were not imaginable. The LGBT rights movement did not even become a major political player until the 1980s. Also, public opinion on LGBT rights has evolved over time, in part due to the activism of LGBT political actors and individuals.

Accordingly, a president in 2012 should definitely be able to check off more individual accomplishments in this area than, say, a president in 1950. But that does not imply that the contemporary president is bolder or more committed on the subject. Instead, this gap simply reflects the evolving political and social climate on this subject.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Newt Gingrich: Latest GOP Candidate With Horrific Ideas for Federal Courts

Conservative and liberal observers have criticized comments that Newt Gingrich made regarding federal courts.  The Washington Post reports that Gingrich told reporters during a conference call on Saturday that he would seek to abolish courts that issue decisions he views are improper.

Gingrich has also repeatedly criticized federal judges who, adhering to well established Supreme Court precedent, enjoin public schools from sponsoring religious activity:
“Are we forced for a lifetime to keep someone on the bench who is so radically anti-American that they are a threat to the fabric of the country?” Gingrich asked.
“What kind of judge says you’ll go to jail if the word ‘invocation’ is used? If this isn’t a speech dictatorship, I’d like you to show me what one looks like.”
The Constitution permits the removal of federal judges through the impeachment process. Otherwise, they have lifetime tenure. Gingrich's comments, therefore, reveal his distaste for the Constitution, which the president is obligated to uphold.

Gingrich has also said that he would like to force judges to come before Congress to explain their rulings. Unlike other governmental actors, judges, already explain their rulings in opinions. Gingrich's proposal is unnecessary. It also would allow for abusive violations of the separation of powers. Gingrich mistakenly believes that judges should be accountable to Congress, rather than the Constitution.

To support his dangerous ideas, Gingrich cites to Thomas Jefferson, who, in 1802 led his party's decision to abolish numerous new judgeships that the lame-duck Federalist-dominated Congress created following Jefferson's victory over John Adams. But Jefferson's actions are hardly model behavior.

Encouraged by Jefferson, the new Democratic-Republican Congress suspended the operation of the Supreme Court to prevent it from deciding the constitutionality of the repeal of the new judgeships. Jefferson later asked Congress to impeach Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase, who criticized Congress for repealing the judgeships.  Although this history is an embarrassing low-point in the treatment of the Court by the president and Congress, Gingrich invokes it as support for his own partisan agenda (Note: This history provides the background for the landmark decision in Marbury v. Madison).

GOP Candidates' Dangerous Ideas for the Court
Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and other Republicans have criticized Gingrich's ideas regarding the courts. Gingrich, however, is not the only Republican candidate who has dangerous views concerning the federal courts.

Rick Perry, for example, wants to abolish lifetime tenure for judges. This plan would undoubtedly make them more vulnerable to partisan control. Perry also wants to give Congress the power to overrule Court decisions by a 2/3 vote. Although Congress can already reverse the Court's interpretation of statutes by simply passing new legislation, reversing the Court on Constitutional matters requires a constitutional amendment, not a vote of Congress.

Although Ron Paul has criticized Gingrich, Paul has also advanced some dangerous proposals for the Court. Paul, for example, has introduced a bill called the "We the People Act." If passed, this bill would prohibit federal courts, including the Supreme Court, from deciding whether state or local laws violate the "the right of privacy, including issues of sexual practices, orientation, or reproduction. . .or. . .the right to marry without regard to sex or sexual orientation where based upon equal protection of the laws." Paul's proposal would divest the federal courts of the power to protect extremely important liberties against state infringement.

Paul's proposal would also prohibit any court ruling that "otherwise interferes with the legislative functions or administrative discretion of the states." This broad prohibition would effectively negate judicial enforcement of the Constitution and federal statutes, to the extent that state law conflicts with these provisions.

Gingrich Fading
Although Gingrich's ideas are dangerous, it seems that his openness in expressing them has frightened voters. Although Gingrich soared to popularity among GOP voters after Herman Cain left the race, it appears that voters are now taking a second look, and he is falling in the polls. In other words, even conservative voters are rejecting his extreme views.

Monday, December 12, 2011

What Does Romney's $10,000 Bet Tell Us: NOTHING

Mitt Romney has received a lot of criticism for making a $10,000 wager during the recent Republican presidential debate. Romney made the bet during a dispute with Rick Perry over the details in a book Perry had authored.

To most of the media, the substance of the Perry-Romney debate is irrelevant. Instead, media accounts have focused primarily on the amount of money Romney wagered. Although Romney has received criticism across the political divide, Democrats, in particular, have tried to exploit the matter.

The DNC has argued that the amount of the wager proves that Romney is "out of touch" with most Americans, obviously alluding to his vast wealth. This argument is a loser. First, saying that a candidate is "out of touch" is an ambiguous statement. It is unclear what it means to be "out of touch" or to be "in touch."  President George W. Bush, for example, was commonly portrayed as someone who could sit down and have a drink with the "average" American. He and his family, however, are extremely wealthy.

Furthermore, if wealth or high income makes a candidate unfit for office, then the DNC should question President Obama as well. In 2010, the Obamas reported income of nearly $1.8 million.  In 2009, they reported income exceeding $5.6 million. This certainly places them among the highest tier of income earners. Also, Hillary and Bill Clinton have made massive amounts of money since Clinton left office in 2000.

Rather than using wealth as a litmus test, I encourage the Democrats and the media to focus on substance instead. It is a much more compelling way to evaluate a candidate.  Given the current status of the media and politics, however, hoping for substantive analysis is a fantasy.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Every Murder Victim Has A Story: Update on Joseph Alonzo Sharps Case

17-year-old Joseph Alonzo Sharps, Jr. was murdered on November 8, 2010. His death was the subject of a Dissenting Justice article last year. Although Sharps's death did not generate an abundance of media attention, due probably to his race and class, a number of bloggers and some reporters covered the story.

The murder was incredibly tragic, especially because, by all accounts, Sharps was a young, ambitious and friendly child, who was shot in cold-blood for no reason whatsoever. Sharps's best friend De'Onte Bilbro was severely injured during the shooting.

Today, testimony began in the trial of Kwan Kearney, the individual accused of killing Sharps. Homicidewatch.org, a blog that helps bring desperately needed attention to DC murder victims, has published a report of the first-day of the trial, which includes some chilling testimony by Larnell Allen.  Allen is a second defendant who has accepted a plea agreement:
“As soon as [Kearney] pulls the gun he fires,” Allen said of the run-in between Sharps, Bilbro, Kearney, a 14-year-old, and himself. “I withdrew my gun from my hip and I fired. It’s like backing him up. One fires, we all fire.” (boldface added)
That shooting killed 17-year-old Sharps and seriously wounded then-18-year-old Bilbro. Families of the two young men were in court Tuesday, both in the audience and on the witness stand. Bilbro, too, took the witness stand, describing for jurors how he and his best friend were walking home from a nearby gas station, when three guys walked towards them on the sidewalk.
“I looked to see who I was walking past and the tallest one said ‘Whatchya reaching for?’” Bilbro remembered. “Joe said, ‘We ain’t reaching for nothing.”
That’s when the shots rang out, Bilbro said, he fell to the ground injured. His left leg lay up against his stomach; he later learned that his femur had been shattered. Still, he got up and ran across the street thinking that he could go get help. But once across the street, his leg crumpled under him and he fell, again.
He called his mom on his cell phone.
"Mom,” Dorothea Bilbro told the jury her son said when she picked up the phone. “I’ve been shot. Around the corner.”
She jumped in her car and drove around the corner. “I saw Joe and I saw De’Onte,” she remembered. She checked on her son, then ran to his best friend.
“This is Ma Bilbro,” she said she told Sharps. “You’re going to be alright.”
Sharps died moments later.

Strange Twists
This case involves some strange twists that indicate the level of violence among youth who live in concentrated poverty within the District of Columbia. Kwan Kearney was arrested for killing another youth prior to his arrest for killing Sharps. His brother, Eric Kearney was slated to testify for the defense in the other case. Last month, however, Eric Kearney was murdered.

Prosecutors believe that Kearney was murdered because he revealed that another individual, who is currently incarcerated, was going to testify for the prosecution. A friend of that individual allegedly killed Eric in order to silence him from broadcasting information about the witness.  The death of Eric Kearney delayed Kwan Kearney's trial for the death of Joseph Sharps.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Newt Gingrich: Poor Kids Will Only Do Work If It Is "Illegal" (Text and Video)

Newt Gingrich, the GOP presidential favorite du jour, made some interesting (translation: idiotic) comments about the plight of poor kids during a campaign rally earlier today. As reported by The Hill, a conservative political blog, Gingrich made the following statement during his speech (see video below):
Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works, so they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday. . . .They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of "I do this and you give me cash" unless it's illegal.
As you can discern from this quote, Gingrich is a brilliant sociologist! He is so familiar with sociology and poverty, that he has never heard of the "working poor" -- millions of Americans who work daily but who cannot escape poverty. Also, this learned social commentator is unfamiliar with the struggles of unemployed poor folks who continue to seek legal work in this sluggish economy.

Gingrich has a simple solution to the complex problem of generational poverty:  Since the law requires poor kids to go to school, the schools could employ them as "assistant janitors" to "mop the floor" or "clean the bathroom" or in various other positions.  I wonder why great minds never thought of this before Newt did.

Searching for the Romney Antidote
It is almost laughable that the GOP continues to search for the "not-Romney" candidate. Mitt Romney is too moderate to capture the attention of rightwing voters, who will have tremendous power during the Republican primaries. Nevertheless, Romney is the only GOP candidate who seems to have an elementary grasp of basic facts related to government and the economy.

Conservative favorites Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain have imploded due to their deep ignorance and personal failings. Now, conservatives hope that Gingrich will defeat Romney.

Fortunately, Gingrich has an uncontrollable urge to speak. Thus, he he will undoubtedly continue to spew ignorance throughout the campaign season. After Gingrich self-destructs, will conservative icon Sarah Palin take the plunge? Tune in!

Newt Video



Note: It is fun watching The Hill post negative news about Gingrich. This is possibly an effort to bolster Romney.
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