Morning Briefing for March 21, 2012

RedState Morning Briefing

March 21, 2012
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1. The Nominee

It is a mathematical improbability that Rick Santorum will get to the magic number of 1,144 — the number of delegates needed to be the Republican Presidential nominee. It is a political improbability that Rick Santorum will stop Mitt Romney from getting to 1,144.

Last night in Illinois, Mitt Romney won his first victory without caveats.

Even in Florida, a big win, there were plenty — counties that saw increased turnout rejected him. The northern part of the state rejected him. It required an amalgamation of voters not quite typical of the base to get Romney the nod in Florida.

In Illinois, Romney won. Period. The Santorum campaign stumbled badly in Puerto Rico, gave up a lead in Illinois, and the candidate proved horribly undisciplined. Like Dug the dog in Up getting distracted by every random squirrel, Rick Santorum loses all ability to focus when social issues come up. His lack of discipline and message focus steering those issues to families as he did so beautifully in the Mesa, AZ debate has hindered him and solidified a media narrative that he is more concerned with those issues than jobs and the economy. It is not fair. It is not even accurate. But fairness and accuracy are rare commodities in American retail politics and Rick Santorum has not leveraged his strengths well.

On the other hand, Mitt Romney’s win in Illinois still highlights his struggles. Blue collar voters are not fond of him. Staunchly conservative voters are not either. Evangelical voters also are not fond of him. The voters do not feel quite comfortable with their pick. But though evangelicals and social conservatives are the base of the base of the Republican Party, they are not enough to stop Mitt Romney and a spending advantage some have estimated topped 20 to 1 against Santorum in Illinois.

This is not to say the race is over. Far from it. Rick Santorum will probably win Louisiana. Conservatives will rally to Santorum and continue protesting Romney as the nominee. But it will not be enough. Romney will do well in New England and the remaining mid-Atlantic states. He will do well out west, winning California.

He will be the nominee.

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2. A Look at Obama’s Budget Priorities

When President Obama released his fiscal year 2013 budget, he revealed a great deal about his priorities for the remainder of this term and the possibility of his next. First in his State of the Union address and then for the past month on the campaign trail, he has repeated the message that it is crucial to promote all types of energy. This message is not reflected in his budget.

Consider the White House’s push to repeal certain tax provisions — credits available to all industries —for just oil and natural gas firms, while seeking subsidy extensions and new tax credits to “green energy” favorites. Selectively levying $46 billion in new taxes on oil and natural gas companies and subsidizing “renewable” companies in hopes of huge job growth and technological change goes against the very nature of the market. But it is the Obama approach. He wants vindictive tax hikes on the oil and natural gas industry and massive subsidies and non-recourse loans for his favorites; this president is trying to rig the base of the U.S. economy. That policy imposes heavy costs and economic suffering on all Americans.

Oddly, his budget also attacks economically-deprived families suffering even before they try to deal with the costs of heating and cooling their homes.

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3. Trayvon Martin And Perspective

On February 26 in a suburb of Orlando, a Hispanic man, George Zimmerman, shot to death an unarmed African-American teenager, Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman was on neighborhood watch, carrying a pistol. “Zimmerman spotted Martin as he was patrolling his neighborhood on a rainy evening and called 911 to report a suspicious person. Against the advice of the 911 dispatcher, Zimmerman then followed Martin, who was walking home from a convenience store with a bag of Skittles in his pocket.” To date, Zimmerman has not been arrested, but after a media outcry, local and federal grand jury investigations have been opened. Zimmerman contends that he shot Martin in self-defense; there are no eyewitnesses and the details are murky, but at least one witness overheard a confrontation. Presumably, further investigation will be needed before prosecutors can build a case that does not leave the claim of self-defense surrounded by a cloud of reasonable doubt, ending with a Casey Anthony type verdict. There’s been some discussion about Florida’s particularly strong self-defense law, but in any state in the Union, if a jury believes there is a real possibility that Zimmerman acted in self-defense, he’d be acquitted, and if the jury doesn’t, he’d be convicted.

The Martin case is a legitimate local news story, of the type that crops up now and then – in major cities like New York, where I live, we have multiple crime stories a year that involve sensational or particularly tragic facts and – at least at the outset – a significant possibility that injustice will be done either to the victim, the defendant, or both. Such cases test public confidence in the competence and fairness of local law enforcement, and sometimes find both to be wanting.

But the media feeding frenzy over this particular story – one out of the thousands of homicides in this country – in apparent response to a left-wing campaign to keep it in the national news, reflects at best a loss of perspective and at worst a cynical effort to inflame racial division in an election year.

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4. Ryan Budget: A Good Start, but will it Matter?

The much-anticipated Ryan budget for FY 2013, which also contains a blueprint for the next ten years, has been released. The headline figures of the proposal include the following factoids: it will spend $5.3 trillion less than Obama’s plan and cut $2 trillion more in taxes over the next ten years; it will spend $4.15 less than CBO baseline; spending will be reduced from 24% of GDP to 19.8% and the debt held by the public will decline from73.2% of GDP to 62.3%.

The lion’s share of the savings come from welfare and other mandatory spending reforms ($1.9 trillion), block granting Medicaid to the states ($810 billion), and repealing Obamacare ($1.6 trillion). There are also $33 billion in much-needed cuts to farm subsidies (some Republicans are already grumbling about that).

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5. How Much Do You Pay For Gas?

“The tools we have at our disposal are limited, but I would I say I would give myself a little higher in that since I became Secretary of Energy, I’ve been doing everything I can to get long-term solutions.” – Energy Secretary Steven Chu, on whether he would give himself an A minus on gas prices.

The above quote is from a House Hearing this morning. Ed Morrissey breaks down the reality, and has video of the Secretary’s testimony.

A Minus? The George Allen campaign today has a fantastic, and depressing, new website out today that suggests a different grade. At, you can put in the make and model of your car, or the size of the tank, and you get a comparison between what it took to fill your tank in January of 2009 versus now. The results will blow your wallet up.

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6. Jason Mattera Detonates Hollywood

Over the weekend we saw American songwriter and rapper Cee Lo Green headline a fundraiser for Barack Obama in Atlanta. Never mind the fact that the Left continues to lecture us about civility in the midst of Green singing the unedited version of his song, “Fu*** You,” while flipping off the crowd. The presence of this popular artist headlining an Obama rally shows once again how the Hollywood elite will try to sell President Obama to us in 2012 just like they did in 2008. As my buddy Jason Mattera reveals in his brand-new book Hollywood Hypocrites: The Devastating Truth About Obama’s Biggest Backers, there is an extensive power nexus between Tinseltown and the Obama reelection campaign. Conservatives may not realize just how deeply entwined the two are.

Jason writes, “The same Hollywood loons who got Obama elected will do so again. That is, unless we muzzle them. How? Not the way the Left tries to do, by silencing dissent. But by putting their political stances and public statements under the microscope of scrutiny to analyze whether they live by the same policy prescriptions they seek to inflict on America.”

Buy Hollywood Hypocrites today. You won’t look at Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Bono, Harrison Ford, Arianna Huffington, and many more A-list celebrities the same.

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