By the numbers

    Fun stats for a Friday:227,000. That’s the number of private-sector jobs created during the month of February. The new jobs report, released this morning, is further evidence (confirmed by economists) that the U.S. recovery is incrementally on the mend. We’ve just experienced the biggest six-month job creation hike since mid-2006, back when the economy was bullish. The current unemployment rate stays at 8.3 percent, but that’s because more people are streaming back into the work force.The upward trend line has penetrated the public consciousness; according to the latest polls, most Americans are upbeat about the economy, a marked change in mood. This is not good news for Mitt Romney, whose candidacy hinges on a continuation of misery. If employers keep adding 200,000 jobs a month, Republicans will find it tougher to highlight President Obama’s alleged economic failures. Former Bush economic adviser and conservative think tanker Keith Hennessey told the press the other day: “To the extent the economy strengthens, I think the argument just shifts.”But shifts to what? If Republicans can’t hammer Obama on the economy, who will they target?Memo to all women of child-bearing age: You’re really in for it now.——-30. That’s the paltry percentage of Catholics garnered by fellow Catholic Rick Santorum in the Ohio primary. Indeed, Romney beat him among Catholics by 12 points. The same sort of thing happened a week earlier in Michigan, where Romney beat him among Catholics by seven points. Given the tight results in both races, it can be argued that Santorum’s Catholic deficit helped fuel his defeats. Those numbers are a refreshing reminder that most Catholics are by no means tethered to conservative church doctrine, and are no more interested in re-litigating the social progress of the 1960s than other mainstream Americans. Clearly, Santorum’s theocratic lectures and obsession with contraception leave most of them cold. And it did him no favors to throw up on John F. Kennedy, given the fact that the only Catholic president happens to be well regarded within the faith.Here’s the bottom line, courtesy of Garry Wills, the Catholic historian and commentator who has written for decades about the church. From his February post on the New York Review of Books website: “What matters here is that contraception is legal, ordinary, and accepted by most Catholics…Catholics have long realized that their own grasp of certain things, especially sex, has a validity that is lost on the celibate male hierarchy.”As for Santorum, “He is presented as a model Catholic, (but) only a brain-dead political party would think him a worthy presidential candidate.”——-14. That’s the pitiful percentage of Latino voters garnered by Mitt Rommey in a new nationwide poll sponsored by Fox News. He now trails Obama among Latino voters by 56 points. As chasms go that’s a new record, and it’s easy to understand. In his bow to the Republican right, Romney on the trail has been relentlessly hostile to immigrant aspirations – calling for “self-deportation,” opposing state college tuition aid for the offspring of illegal immigrants, and mocking the federal DREAM act, which would provide a path to citizenship for kids who came here as minors.Historians may one day ponder the mystery of why Romney and the white people’s party continue to diss the fastest growing electorate in America (Latinos account for 55 percent of the population growth over the past decade). Assuming he’s the nominee, it will be fascinating to see how he performs in Florida, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Virginia, and North Carolina – swing states that Obama won in 2008 with potent support from Latino voters.Does he really think he can mollify those voters, and win those states, with such a hostile message? Hey, it’s his funeral.——-50. That’s the number of advertisers who have now bailed on Rush Limbaugh. The wonder is not that it’s happening in the wake of Slutgate, but that it has taken so long to happen. After all, this guy has been toxic for years. Where was the outrage when he told an African-American caller, “Take that bone out of your nose”? Or when a Mexican won the New York Marathon and he said, “An immigration agent chased him the last 10 miles”? Or when he said that racism is “acceptable” because racists are “born that way”? Or when he said that Obama’s tenure would be open season on white people (“In Obama’s America, the white kids now get beat up”)? Or, or, or.We’ll see how long those advertisers stay away. Business is business, his audience loves him, and the conservative press has his back. Just check out this passage from a 2011 Commentary magazine piece. Don’t read it while drinking a beverage, lest laughter push liquid through your nose:Limbaugh has “an astonishing ability to reformulate complex ideas in direct, vivid, and often eloquent ways…an air of high-spiritedness and relaxed good humor…a sense of sheer fun, of lightness, humor, and wit….In such moments, and in many other moments besides, he reminds one of the affirmative spirit of Ronald Reagan and, like Reagan, reminds his listeners of the better angels of their nature.”——-15. That’s the number of Republican contests until the Pennsylvania primary. What fun it would be to host Romney. Given his robo-pandering in Michigan (“I like cars”) and, this week, in Mississippi (“I like grits”), imagine what he might say in a city like Philadelphia:”Gosh, how I love cheesesteak. I eat it every day. I put it on my cereal. I also love the Italian Market. Betcha it’s tough to park down there – Ann’s Cadillacs especially, heh heh – but I sure do love that fresh mozzarella they sell. Cut myself a hunk of mozzarella, jam it on a cheesesteak, eat it all up while running to the top of the Rocky steps at the Art Museum so that I can see the Liberty Bell – you know, that’s my idea of freedom. Shall I sing ‘Philadelphia Freedom’ for you? And gosh, how I love Elton John. And the Phillies, heh heh. Their ballpark is the right height. I know some fellas that own baseball teams. Hey, c’mon folks, help me out. What else do I love here?”——-Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1

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