Saturday, February 04, 2012

Live-blogging the 2012 Nevada caucuses: An easy win for Romney in a Romney-friendly state


7:22 pm - This won't be like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, or Florida. I'll be live-blogging, but there won't be much to say. Nevada is solid Romney territory -- heavily Mormon (particularly in terms of Republican caucus-goers) and business-friendly libertarian. He'll win easily, and, indeed, he's already well ahead. With 3% reporting, he's up 52 to 20 over Paul (who should do relatively well here), with Gingrich third at 19 and Santorum bringing up the rear at 9. (See the results here.) And in winning easily he'll cement his position as clear frontrunner and likely nominee. It's hard to see any way he can lose at this point.

7:29 pm - What's interesting is that Newt will be holding a press conference, rather than giving a speech, later on this evening. His campaign has been unravelling, but, then, he doesn't much much money or organization to begin with. It's pretty clear that he peaked in South Carolina, that he doesn't have much left in the tank, and that another surge, a third, isn't happening. And while he's been saying he's in it for the long haul, even he and his massive egomania can't deny what's going on. It wouldn't surprise me if he said tonight he's suspending his campaign. Prayers won't be enough to keep him going.

8:14 pm - Looks like Newt's big-time backer, Sheldon Adelson, will turn to Romney if and when Newt pulls out:

Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino executive keeping Newt Gingrich's presidential hopes alive, has relayed assurances to Mitt Romney that he will provide even more generous support to his candidacy if he becomes the Republican nominee, several associates said in interviews here.

The signals from Mr. Adelson, whose politics are shaped in large part by his support for Israel, reflect what the associates said was his deep investment in defeating President Obama and his willingness to play a more prominent role in the Republican Party and conservative causes.

The assurances have been conveyed in response to a highly delicate campaign by Mr. Romney and his top Jewish financial supporters to dissuade Mr. Adelson from adding to the $10 million that he and his wife have given to a pro-Gingrich "super PAC," Winning Our Future, that has been tearing into Mr. Romney through television advertising.

Several people who have spoken with Mr. Adelson over the past two weeks said he would most likely continue to help the group as long as Mr. Gingrich remained in the race. But, they said, he is concerned that additional deep-pocketed donors have not joined him. And, they said, his affection for and loyalty to Mr. Gingrich, who met with him here on Friday, have not blinded him to the reality that the nominating contest is tilting in Mr. Romney's favor. 

No surprise here. If Adelson is looking for pro-Israel extremism, Romney, who has enthusiastically embraced such extremism, is a useful vessel for his millions. The more pressing question is what Newt would do. He couldn't drop out and throw his support behind Romney, at least not right away, not after his attacks on Romney as a "Massachusetts moderate." He could eventually, but he'd likely want to remain neutral if only to maintain his credibility (to the extent he has any), unless he so despises Romney that he'd be willing to support a sure loser like Santorum.

10:03 pm - So, what did I miss while I was having dinner and watching The Great Dictator? Seems like... not much. It's just a boring, ho-hum night. Of course Romney was going to win. There's no drama, nothing. Blitzer et al. may be trying to play it up, but so what? Pretty much everyone I follow on Twitter -- reporters, pundits, bloggers -- is bored. There's just nothing to say.

10:06 pm - And, yes, just after 10 pm, the networks called it for Romney. Hoo-wah.

10:07 pm - Though turnout looks embarrassingly low and the results seem to be coming in embarrassingly slow. Right now, with 10% reporting, it's Romney 48, Paul 21, Gingrich 20, Santorum 11. But even Romney only has 4,766 votes so far. Which means that a tiny sliver of party die-hards, mostly 45+, are deciding how to allocate Nevada's delegates. Not terribly democratic.

10:11 pm - Funny headline at MSNBC: "Romney wins Nevada caucus, solidifying momentum." How can you solidify momentum?

10:13 pm - Romney's doing especially well in Clark Co. (Las Vegas): 56 to 18 for both Paul and Gingrich. Looks like Sin City likes its Republicans rich, privileged, and full of douchebaggery.

10:17 pm - Now 13% reporting. Mitt at 47, Gingrich surging into second with 22!!! Can you feel the excitement? No? No. Neither can I.

10:18 pm - I guess now it's just a matter of waiting for Newt. Whatever will he tell us?

10:20 pm - For your viewing pleasure, as we ponder Newt's future...

You do know about the whole "Eye of the Tiger" controversy, no? Well, whether you do or don't, make sure to watch Colbert's hilarious take on the matter, with Survivor's Dave Bickler turning the copyright infringement tables on Newt.


12:53 am - Just watched the great Jean-Pierre Melville's Léon Morin, Priest, with Jean-Paul Belmondo and Emmanuelle Riva, from 1961 -- an intense meditation on the confrontation between faith and desire that's left me in a rather pensive mood.

12:56 am - Still just 43% reporting. (Honestly, what's the problem? Can the Nevada GOP not count?) And it's Romney at 43 followed by Gingrich at 25, Paul at 19, and Santorum at 12.

12:58 am - And, yes, Obama won. Obviously. He was unchallenged.

1:09 am - At his press conference, Gingrich said he's in the race all the way to the convention in Tampa. He may mean it tonight, but things change and one suspects that he'll eventually change his mind. Unless Romney stumbles badly, which hardly seems likely, or Newt can somehow resurrect his campaign a third time with big wins on Super Tuesday on March 5, which also hardly seems likely, he has no shot at the nomination and will only meet more intense resistance within the party the longer he stays in.

Let's put the over/under (before/after) on him getting out of the race at, yes, March 5. Do you take the before or after? I might still take the after.

But if it's March 7, I think it has to be the before. There's just no way he lasts beyond a day after Super Tuesday. The pressure on him to get out will be immense, and even with his massive egomania and loathing of Romney it's hard to see him fighting on beyond that. He is, after all, a hyper-partisan Republican. Ultimately, he'll do what the party needs him to do.

1:13 am - Alright, that's it for me tonight. We'll be back with more new posts later today, including a Super Bowl preview. 

Good night, everyone.

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Will the real Jesus please stand up?

By Capt. Fogg

“But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that for unto whom much is given, much shall be required,”

Said the President of the United States to a nation fulsomely fond of telling us that not only were our founding fathers fundamentalist Christians, but that our laws are really a re-statement of the Bible and that we are a Nation under God -- whatever that's supposed to mean.

Apparently it doesn't mean that a man with an African father who can't be considered a "real"American or a "real" Christian and most assuredly not a "real" president can presume to have such values in a country in which they have almost always been honored in the breach. Why that boy must think he's not only as good as the rest of us to whom America was given, but he must think he's Jesus himself if he presumes to quote from the book that belongs to us as white people.
"Someone needs to remind the president that there was only one person who walked on water, and he did not occupy the Oval Office.”

said the reprehensible Orrin Hatch (Hypocrite-Utah) at the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday.

No Orrin, those Christian values you pretend to aren't any different than Muslim or Jewish values with respect to the love of justice and our fellow humans and mocking anyone for attempting to put them into action doesn't allow one to walk on water, even if one actually is Jesus of Nazareth. Walking on, wading through and bathing oneself in shit however makes you just another lump in the cesspool and whatever magic ceremony you perform or whatever special underwear you put on, you're an enemy of everything any good man stands for whether he be Jesus or Jefferson.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)


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Friday, February 03, 2012

This day in music - February 3, 1959: The day the music died

Ritchie Valens
J.P. Richardson 
"The day the music died" is what Don McLean called it in his song "American Pie." February 3, 1959, in a small-plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, Buddy Holly, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, and Ritchie Valens, along with the pilot, Roger Peterson, died.

The plane went down and three pioneers of rock and roll perished.

Richardson was a DJ, singer, and songwriter best known for his recording of "Chantilly Lace."

Ritchie Valens was a Mexican-American singer, songwriter, and guitarist, and although his recording career lasted only eight months, he had several hits including "La Bamba" and "Donna."

And Buddy Holly was, well, Buddy Holly, one of the most innovative and influential forces in early rock and roll with an incredible list of hits to his credit including: "That'll Be the Day," "Words of Love," "Not Fade Away," "Everyday," "Oh, Boy," "Peggy Sue," "Maybe Baby," "Rave On," "It's So Easy," "It Doesn't Matter Anymore," and "True Love Ways," just to name a bunch.

His influence on The Beatles, Elvis Costello, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and Eric Clapton is well documented. He was in the first class of inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and in 2004 was ranked by Rolling Stone as #13 among "The Fifty Greatest Artists of All Time."

Imagine if he had been allowed to live a normal life span. Incredible that he was only 23 when he died.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Stock markets surge, thwarting Obama's anti-capitalist agenda

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Via twitter:

Dow closes at 4-year high; Nasdaq hits 11-year high.

-- CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk)

How is this possible? I thought Obama had made it his personal socialist mission, learned from his Islamic Kenyan anti-imperialist father, to destroy American business, bleed "job creators" to death, and crush the 1%.

Has he failed?

Mitt, you're getting richer and richer, what say you?

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Memory and Irony

By Capt. Fogg

The jobless rate has declined to 8.3% according to the latest reports -- well below the Reagan rate and the lowest in three years after adding about a quarter million Jobs this January alone. That's a quarter of a million more in one month than were added under eight years of Republican flim-flam economics. The markets are booming, but we can be sure to hear nothing but sneer, snark, scoff and panicked pessimism from fact-free America and its electronic Svengali, Fox News.

I'm hesitant to make too much of it or to extrapolate too far, but unlike every Republican I talk to, I am willing to remember the Bush years when the air was full of nonsense about how Democrats were pessimists and Republicans were optimists and bullish on the economy. Of course it would be fun to mock the Fox News survey that gave "proof" that Liberals were trying to damage the vibrant economy with gloomy reports during the Bush years and of course the prophets of doom were quite right although not one of Fox's friends seems to remember, because after all, this is Obama's recession and Bush had nothing to do with it and the predictably dilatory nature of the trailing indicator -- the unemployment rate -- proves that it's all going to hell any time now.

A sense of irony would make fertile fields for all kinds of sardonic humor, since with the economy steadily improving, having already this year added more jobs than were added during the entire Bush administration (unless you want to count all the government jobs created by bloating the size and expense of our government,) they're still pretending the man who inherited this disaster caused it. But if there's any essence at all to American Conservatism, it must involve total blindness to the most glaring irony. They're still insisting that continuing what brought it on would end it quickly if only we'd have elected an empty headed beauty contest runner up and a doddering old man who couldn't remember his address but was sure the crash wasn't actually happening.

And while we're talking about irony, do we care to speculate about how many would have been lost if General Motors had disappeared and how many are working now that GM is again the worlds largest automaker? No, that investment is spending, while the massive expenses of Bush's prescription drug plan written by and for the drug companies increases as the population ages isn't even to be discussed -- and of course people are only getting older because of "that Obama's policies" hard as they are to discern. If I were a Republican you can damn well bet I'd be blind to the irony too as well as the outright dishonesty.

Things are looking at least a bit better of late and at a rate proportional to the improvement, the apocalyptic predictions increase. The Mayan end times, the Rapture, the death of the Dollar and the Zombie Apocalypse hold fewer horrors than are being predicted daily as the people who insist every time they hold the White House, that the government cannot create jobs and should not try, scream themselves hoarse nonetheless about jobs, jobs, jobs, dangling that elusive carrot in front of the desperate.

It's a hell of a thing to remember well, and that's why I'm sure amnesia, like ironic obtuseness is a necessary component of the conservative mind. It's a hell of a thing to be the only one to remember that "debt doesn't matter" was the keystone of Republican economics since Reagan and right up to the disaster of 2007 because tax breaks for the people who put all their windfalls into real estate, hedge funds and offshore accounts in Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and the Caymans would boost the economy so much, the debt would wither away in Marxist style.

Jobs, jobs, jobs and debt, debt debt in the relentless Republican ostinato like drumbeats in some dark jungle night, as though debt did very much matter and matter more than the ability to pay it off -- as though paying Bush's bills and saving the financial structure of our country with a far smaller amount of money than the shill for Goldman Sachs Bush used for a treasury secretary were an invitation to disaster rather than fiscal responsibility -- as though a three trillion dollar war to be payed for by magic; massive bailout packages without accountability and unprecedented spending weren't things the Democrats were howling helplessly about for 8 years.

Increased military spending along with an amazing record of eliminating al Qaeda means Obama is "slashing the military." Allowing increased freedom to carry weapons means he's a "gun grabber." Arresting and deporting more illegal aliens than Bush means he's "pro-illegal." Giving most Americans a tax break means he raised taxes, and although every day I have to listen to some Republican blowhard telling me he hates "Obamas policies" not one has been able to come up with a policy that actually exists -- that glib trope having become nothing more than the password to the club they think every white man belongs to.

No, sure they don't remember nor do they see the irony. Like Janus, they look both forward and back to see the easiest way to slither away from accountability and as and if the economy slowly improves and the spectre of Depression recedes, they'll continue to boom and bellow and snicker and sneer without any memory of how they accused Democrats of "hating America" even though all those dire predictions we made for 8 years came true while none of theirs ever materialized.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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Trump endorsement reinforces Romney's out-of-touch douchebag image

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Via twitter:

Will Trump help Romney?

-- George Stephanopoulos (@GStephanopoulos)

It seems obvious, but... No.

Trump's endorsement reinforces Romney's well-deserved reputation as a privileged rich douchebag with a plutocratic sense of personal entitlement. This is the narrative that is coming to define Romney and that will haunt him during the campaign.

Once upon a time, Trump may have helped with independents, but he's been exposed as a laughingstock -- or, rather, even more of one -- with his baseless Birtherism and various other inane political ramblings. He's an egomaniacal bully, more Newt than Mitt, but now it's Romney who must shoulder the burden of his support at a time when the race is just about over and he needs badly to shift gears for the general election.

(I would add: If Trump really likes Romney, why not endorse when a high-profile endorsement would matter more, like before South Carolina or Florida? The timing is nothing if not curious. It's like he only wanted to back a sure thing.)

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Out of it

I apologize for the lack of blogging the past couple of days. I've been dealing with yet another nasty cold this winter.

But keep checking in. We'll have new stuff going up today, and hopefully things will get back to normal, what with all the hilarious material the Republicans insist on giving us.

In the meantime, what did I miss while I was out of it? Something about Trump whoring for attention and Romney shamelessly lapping it up? Makes me want to go back to bed.

-- Michael


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Thursday, February 02, 2012

This day in music - February 2, 1927: Saxophone great Stan Getz is born

This is just an excuse to post a clip by Stan Getz, one of my all-time favourite musicians. As a sax player myself, I've always loved the guy and loved the stuff he did over the years.

This is apparently a bossa nova medley recorded live in California in 1983.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Will I ever learn to trust the success of the New York Giants?

Y.A. Tittle
Well, my New York Giants are in the Super Bowl this weekend. I have been living and dying with the team for more than five decades and, as much as I think they are a good team right now that can win the big game, I'm sceptical. That's the way it is with me and a lot of Giants fans. We haven't expected a lot over these many years and haven't usually been wrong.

I know that if you started watching the Giants in the mid-1980s you might think I'm crazy. After all, the G-Men have been in the NFL championship game four times and won three of them. If they win on Sunday, that'll make them four for five over a 25 year stretch, which is nothing to sneeze at.

But if you started watching the Giants in the early 60s, as I did, you would have had to live through 20 years of some of the worst football ever played anywhere. From 1964 to 1978 that means they had only two winning seasons and made no playoff appearances. Sure, things got better with the arrival of Parcells and Taylor and Simms. Sure, they've been a mostly respectable franchise for a long time now. But I can't get those 20 years out of my mind.

I'll be thrilled if they win on Sunday, but won't expect it. Years of watching players like Joe Pisarcik, Jerry Golsteyn, and Randy Dean lead the team through the lean times has ruined me. And then when they did have a decent QB over that time like Norm Snead, Craig Morton, Fran Tarkenton, or Earl Morrall, they never seemed to be able to do for the Giants what they did elsewhere.

I'm not bitter. I just have really low expectations.

Remember, when I first started watching Giants' football, they just finished a run as a very good franchise with players like Frank Gifford, Sam Huff, Roosevelt Brown, and Alex Webster. But that was mostly over by the time I was old enough to pay attention.

To be fair, I vaguely remember when quarterback Y.A. Tittle came to New York in 1961 from San Francisco. He's was already an accomplished QB by then and proceeded to lead the team to three straight Eastern Division titles. To give you an idea of how good Tittle was, in 1963 he set what was then an NFL record by throwing 36 touchdown passes.

But I barely remember Tittle, what I remember is my father talking about how good Tittle was. And then Tittle was gone and the first 20 years of my life as a football fan were spent rooting for a really bad team. Over that time it never occurred to me that the Giants could win anything, that they might be in playoff games or fight for championships. It was just a given that when the regular season was over, the team went home and I watched teams I really didn't care about continue on.

It's taken me a long time to get used to having anything at stake in post-season play.

Don't get me wrong. I love my Giants. It's just that I will always see them as loveable losers no matter how good they get. It's burned in my brain that way. I just don't trust their success. Never have. Never will. That's just the way it is with me.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Romney Hasn't Learned The First Lesson Of Vulture Capitalism

By Carl
"Never Complain, Never Explain."

"Sometimes things don't come out exactly the way you'd like them to," he explained. "That's not exactly what I meant to say. My focus is on middle income Americans. We do have a safety net for the very poor, and I said if there are holes in it I want to correct that."

Opponents on the left jumped on it, saying it shows Romney is out of touch.

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh noticed, as well. "Everyone knows what he was trying to say," Limbaugh observed, "but he didn't say it. He makes himself a target with this stuff. He comes across at the prototypical rich Republican. ... It's gonna make it harder and harder and harder to go after Obama."

For once, Rush has it right. And wrong.

See, Romney is pretty much cast in stone now as the prototypical aristocrat: wealthy, out of touch, elitist...hell, he's even spent time in France!

Sound familiar? He even flip-flops (only his flip-flops aren't as nuanced as John Kerry's.)

In the primaries, this is a feature, tho: to claim to be for the rich, in Republican jargon, means pro-tax cuts, anti-union, pro-wealth creation, anti-Big Government.

The flaw in the ointment, of course, is the implications of this posture, including a distinct lack of compassion for those whom the American dream has left by the roadside.

Since the fight will be over the two to five percent of true independents-- not those who say they are independent to throw pollsters off, or because they just can't be bothered with political junk mail or what have you-- things like an unChristian attitude towards the poor matter. These are people who aren't ideologues or dogmatic religious types, but who do believe in charity and taking care of those who can't take themselves.

They learned that taking care of the world around them is important and if they made $20 million last year after taxes, they'd do a lot more than tithe to a church. These are the folks who, when they hit the lottery, give a million to the school down the street to make the playground better or to buy computer equipment.

These are the folks who send $10 to the Red Cross the minute a tragedy strikes. They don't need a celebrity or a pastor to tell them to give, they do it, willingly.

Romney's wealth is an ideal for them, but then they assess the character of the man with the money and realize that wealth has created a mean-spirited, spiteful and angry man.

As in:

An ABC News/Washington Post survey released last week, for example, found Romney viewed unfavorably by 49 percent of voters and favorably by just 31 percent. Among independents, just 23 percent viewed Romney favorably, compared to 51 percent who felt that way about President Obama.

Which makes Obama's job that much easier. Not that it was that hard to begin with, even with all the disadvantages Obama brings to the table as incumbent (along with the advantages, to be fair.) The field the GOP put out there was ridiculously weak and thin, and partly to blame was their overeagerness to set a candidate in stone early enough to go after Obama for months, not weeks.

Hell, you could hear the fapping in 2010 if you listened closely enough.

But I give Romney credit: at least he hasn't complained.

(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

An Exceptional To The Rule

By Carl
Interesting quote from Mitt Romney:

"I'm not concerned with the very poor. We have a safety net there," Romney told CNN. "If it needs repair, I'll fix it. I'm not concerned about the very rich, they're doing just fine. I'm concerned about the very heart of the America, the 90 percent, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling."

Host Soledad O'Brien pointed out that the very poor are probably struggling too.

"The challenge right now — we will hear from the Democrat party the plight of the poor," Romney responded, after repeating that he would fix any holes in the safety net. "And there's no question it's not good being poor and we have a safety net to help those that are very poor . . . My focus is on middle income Americans ... we have a very ample safety net and we can talk about whether it needs to be strengthened or whether there are holes in it. but we have food stamps, we have Medicaid, we have housing vouchers, we have programs to help the poor."

Now, the main sentiment he was trying to express, that the middle class have it tough in these times, is a pretty accurate one. After all, its the middle and working classes who have lost the most in the mortgage bubble. Significant portions of the money they've invested in their homes-- yea, that's a dopey concept, but you know what? That's what we were told to do-- on the order of 50% or more was lost.

And there is no safety net for that. You can't write it off your taxes like a corporation...pardon me, corporate entity...could. There's no bailout so that you can pay yourself a bonus instead of donating to people worse off than you. You can't leap into a golden parachute because your house is now essentially worthless.

Ah, but there's also no safety net to speak of for the desperately poor: no jobs, no income, no assets. The working and middle classes at least have jobs. They have *something*. The really poor have nothing and the clock is ticking. If they went on welfare because they got laid off from a job cleaning floors at the bank or parking cars on Wall Street, they're bumping up against the five year limit on their welfare.

A smart man, a man who would be President, would know that. He'd know that shortly after he took office, he'd have to put boots on the ground about this problem.

Unless he didn't care. Unless he lived in the double-bubble of conservatism and wealth, he'd see this problem coming.

Don't Republicans get tired of always being in the dark? Don't they get tired of saying, "Well, no one could have seen that coming. A failure of imagination, we missed the signals, the previous administration didn't make it clear enough...." and so on.

I mean, you'd think 9-11 would have been a wake up call to the ignorant that things are not going as swimmingly in America as they are in America Prime, the "exceptionalist" America.

Now, America as we know it is still an exceptional place. Just not as exceptional as even a decade ago. We've been wounded; wounded from abroad, wounded from within, wounded economically, wounded spiritually, wounded morally and perhaps, mortally.

If you had told me, even after 9-11, that we'd condone torture as a nation, I'd have looked at you cross-eyed. If you had told me that we'd spend trillions on two wars that had a goal of no clear victory, I'd have called the insane asylum. And if you'd had told me that the global economy, in large part owing to the lack of oversight of the greediest bastards on the planet, would melt down and destroy the American working and middle classes, I'd give you a sobriety test. 

I mean, it's one thing to screw with a sector of the American economy, bubble it up, make money off the suckers, then light another stewpot, but to screw homeowners?

And yet we did it, and we now have a candidate running for President who wants to ignore the blood stains on his hands and plow on, blithely ignorant of the pain and suffering around him.

I wonder what Romney has on his iPod? It must be loud, since he can't hear the crying.

Stephen Colbert said it best, and its partcularly apt when talking about a Mormon candidate who professes to be a conservative Christian, because maybe he missed this about Jesus:
If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don't want to do it."
So, Mitt...about those poor....
(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

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Bishops, Bibles and tyranny

So let me get this straight, refusing to allow a Church to make its tenets, prohibitions and taboos the law of the land means that Barack Obama has
“cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty”
thus confirming the paranoid fears of Know Nothings and anti-Catholic bigots everywhere. How can we deny that the Arizona Bishop who wrote those words in one out of many letters from Bishops read aloud last Sunday to congregations around the US has perverted the First Amendment to advocate political control of private lives by Churches -- exactly in opposition to the amendment's intent? That intent, of course it precisely to deny such power, or "freedom" if you prefer, to faith based organizations whether elected or not.

I'm sure some will try to dress this up in Sunday clothes, but it's the same old ecclesiastical evil that's been bedeviling us for millennia. What it's about, is the administration's recent decision to make birth control available to women through their private health care plans, thus making "people of faith" second class citizens, according to Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted in a display of dishonest, convoluted and perverted logic describing the demand that women be denied their rights in the name of religious freedom. Perhaps he'd like to explain why his organization pretends to hold all the moral cards here and other "faiths" would not be allowed to take rights and freedom away from their women in the name of some mangy god or demiurge -- perhaps not since it would entail exposing his Church's obscene claim to worldwide tyranny over the minds of men (and bodies of women) as Jefferson put it so unambiguously.

"Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights.”

No they didn't and many of them came to get away from the gruesome and eldritch horrors your ilk have perpetrated in the old country.

Catholics should pray to the Virgin Mary, says he, to "intercede for the nation" since God himself seems uninterested and I would be quite satisfied if that were the extent of this blatant political power grab for which we have to pay through tax policies that allow these plutocratic men of poverty to force their nasty, inhumane policies down our throats as though we were all helpless choir boys and without having to register as a lobby. There's little to suggest that such power would be enough, as anti-democratic and anti-American and inhumane as it may be.

Personally I'd prefer to pray to Dagon or Wotan or Yog-Sothoth, my grandson's teddy bear or even to Anton Kalashnikov that our freedom can continue to endure the unremitting assault from ecclesiastical tyrants of all stripes and as we all know, Yog never forgives anything.


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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Live-blogging the 2012 Florida primary: Mitt goes negative, Newt falters -- the beginning of the end of the Republican presidential race


7:18 pm - Yup, here we go again.

After Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, our full attention's been on Florida for about 10 days now... and it's a biggie. I'm just going to have some dinner, but I'll be back shortly and will be live-blogging frequently throughout the evening, with contributions from Richard as well. We know who's going to win, and it'll be called very early (like 8:01?) but we'll try to keep it interesting by keeping the whole damn thing in perspective. See you soon.

7:28 pm - You can see the results here. Returns are already coming in -- 36% reporting.

7:29 pm - Okay... we're almost there...

7:30 pm - Almost there...

7:31 pm - Just a little bit more...

7:32 pm - Yes! The Reaction is now ready to declare Mitt Romney the winner of the 2012 Florida Republican primary.

7:33 pm - We called it! We called it! We can state the obvious! Take that, Wolf Blitzer, you bearded wonder! Ha! Go ahead and wait for those polls in the Central time zone to close in 27 minutes. We're not letting anything get in our way.

7:54 pm - So... is it over yet? With 51% reporting, it's Romney with 48, Gingrich with 31, Santorum with 13, and Paul with 7. Needless to say, a huge lead for Mitt. I thought he'd win by 12 or 13, though the trend was suggesting even more, like 15.

RKB: Yes, this is over.

8:00 pm - Earlier today, I set the over/under for the call on Romney's win at 8:01 and 30 seconds. Are we there yet?

8:01 pm - And I also wrote this: "In case you weren't clear, it's (mostly) the money, stupid. Money, in short, wins." And so, in "honor" of Mitt's big win, here's Rush (once upon a time infatuated with Ayn Rand, though they are one of my favorite bands -- and maybe the greatest Canadian band ever) performing "Big Money":

Big money goes around the world
Big money underground
Big money got a mighty voice
Big money make no sound
Big money pull a million strings
Big money hold the prize
Big money weave a mighty web
Big money draw the flies

It's that old time religion
It's the kingdom they would rule
It's the fool on television
Getting paid to play the fool

8:04 pm - Congratulations, Mitt. You the man. And you're clearly the frontrunner (once again).

RKB: I know Newt said he would stay in for the long haul, but at about 18 points back with 65% reporting that will be hard to do. We all know that Gingrich is really good at ignoring his critics and shooting the messenger and all that, but it's starting to look more than a little sad.

8:21 pm - In case you missed it, Florida Republican wunderkind Marco Rubio said today that the winner of the Florida primary would be the nominee this fall. Hardly an out-on-a-limb prediction. He knew it would be Romney, and Romney is by far the likely nominee.

RKB: This is a WSJ clip discussing the gender gap between Gingrich and Romney. Guess which candidate women don't like? (Can't embed, but you can watch it here.)

RKB: Brit Hume on Fox is speculating about the extent to which Romney will want to turn his attention away from Gingrich and start focusing his attention on Obama. Of course, when he eased off on Newt in South Carolina, he got smoked. I guess it begs the question of when Romney will start to tack to the center to begin courting independents. That'll be hard to do as long as hardcore conservatives don't trust him. Quite a problem. But if Gingrich is mostly done, Romney will need a plan to start sounding more reasonable.

8:45 pm - Florida really does look like penis, doesn't it?

8:46 pm - With the rest of my family watching Glee (ugh), I'll hand it over to Richard to comment on Romney's victory speech...

RKB: Ann Romney is at the podium thanking the whole team. Blah, blah, blah. And then she intros her husband. Could this guy be more insincere? Romney says that a competitive nomination race doesn't divide Republicans, it prepares them. Well, no. Not when the attacks are on character.

Funny how no Republican ever mentions George W. Bush as the architect of the current economic mess. The nerve of these guys.

Romney is so full of shit.

Well, I guess we have our answer.Romney thinks the campaign against Obama starts now.

Romney is all about mindless, meaningless platitudes. What a mean-spirited idiot.

If Romney really is the best the GOP has to offer, Obama must be sleeping well these days. 

8:51 pm - Ditto. Have I mentioned that Romney's a privileged rich douchebag with a plutocratic sense of entitlement who will do and say anything for votes? Well, there you go. And that's the narrative that should attach itself to Romney through November.

8:53 pm - Sorry, maybe you expect us to comment on Romney without all the insults? That would be fine if he hadn't shown himself throughout this entire campaign to be a shameless liar pandering to GOP extremism with all his anti-Obama nonsense and otherwise turning himself into a soul-less "Mitt Romney" candidate who seems to stand for nothing but maximizing the wealth of the super-rich and getting himself elected. I mean, he said just yesterday he wishes he could claim he was Hispanic. How utterly pathetic is that?

RKB: Sarah Palin is on Fox right now (8:50 pm). She sounds bitter that Romeny's $17-million investment in Florida bought his success. She is saying that the process has not been "very attractive to the electorate." Palin is obviously lukewarm on Romney. She better get used to him. Man, she is so stupid ,but I guess she has her followers. I still can't believe anyone is fooled by this dolt. What a lot of nonesence from the former half-term governor of Alaska.

8:59 pm - Sure, but I can't argue with her assessment of how Romney won Florida. (I would just add that she isn't terribly "attractive to the electorate" either, including the Republican electorate.)

9:01 pm - Romney's up by 15 with 76% reporting, 47 to 32. Just what the likes of Nate Silver were saying. Needless to say, a big win, regardless of how he did it. Newt's lead in the national polls has been slipping, and there's little doubt that Mitt will now surge (the key and perhaps most overused word of this whole race, no?) into the lead.

9:07 pm - And now I turn it over to Richard again... 

RKB: Santorum is speaking from Colorado (?).

Santorum is thanking people for their support during his daughter's recent health problem. Nice to see people reminded that even politicians have lives and families. Nice touch by Santorum. Much as I hate Santorum's social conservatism, he sounds the most honest of the bunch. So, to that extent, he honestly holds values I hate.

Still, Santorum is generally a weak candidate. What a horrible field.

9:09 pm - I've thought the same about Santorum, particularly since his excellent speech the night of the Iowa caucuses (which he ended up winning, of course). I don't agree with him on... well, on pretty much anything, but there's no denying his general sincerity, which contrasts starkly with Romney's shameless dishonesty and Newt's bullying egomania.

RKB: And it certainly doesn't look like Santorum is getting out. Chris Matthews is suggesting that Santorum is angling for the VP job. Don't see that happening. There are a lot better choices.

9:13 pm - It's possible, but I agree. Unlikely. And while Santorum is certainly a bona fide social conservative, he's toxic to independents (and his name is just too much of a joke). Romney will have to appease the right with someone else: Ryan? Rubio? Haley? Jindal?

9:18 pm - And over to Richard again, who's watching and reporting so I don't have to...

RKB: Gingrich is now at the mic:

This will be a two-person race between Newt and the Massachusetts moderate is what he is saying.

He is saying that he will stay in as long as it takes. People power will defeat money power. When did the GOP become the party of poor people? Newt is calling it a "people's campaign." That's great. He's contrasting himself with Romney as the candidate of the establishment. Will anyone believe that Newt is a man of the people?

This stuff is red meat for the base, but rings hollow for independents. 

9:20 pm - For some of the base, sure. But Newt's attempt at populism won't fool many on the right. It's okay to be a Buchananite pitchfork populist (i.e., a lynch mob), but going after Big Money is just too... socialist? 

9:28 pm - Mitt's still up by 15. 

9:44 pm - And again... 

RKB: Ron Paul is in Nevada. At the mic now:

Paul's crowd is certainly enthusiastic, as is he. Pretty happy for a guy who just came in last place in Florida with a whopping 7%. Yes, it's all about personal liberty, whatever that means. Oh, I can't stand listening to Paul. Such a waste of time. I do like the idea of bringing our troops home and stopping "unwinnable, undeclared wars." I could get behind that. Otherwise, libertarians make me tired. They aren't even worth arguing with.

Ron Paul is also saying he will go all the way to convention.

9:46 pm - And so he will. It's not about winning for Paul, it's about his libertarian agenda/platform and making sure it's a core part of the GOP. (Note to Rep. Paul: It's not. Well, not really. The anti-tax stuff is, of course, but Republicans have no time for anti-imperialism and civil liberties these days. Even your anti-government views are a tad too out there for most in your party. Why not unite with Trump for a third-party run?)

9:52 pm - Uh-oh. Major drama! Mitt's lead has fallen all the way from 15 to 14. With 94% reporting he's ahead just 46 to 32. What does this mean? What can it mean? Is Mitt falling short of expectations? OMG! WTF? It's back on, baby, back... on!

10:17 pm - Kidding. Of course.

10:18 pm - That's about it for us. There's not much else to say tonight. But, as I peruse some live-blogging posts at other sites, let me quote from Wonkette, which offered up these extremely amusing observations earlier on this evening:

"Florida is a microcosm of America," we just heard one of the Romney and/or Gingrich spin-whores say on the MSNBC just now. Yes, because Florida is a limp dick dangling over a sex-slave resort in the Dominican Republic or whatever. Also, America is truly a symbol of America. Just look at the map, and look at it in profile. What you'll see is a morbidly obese man with a pinhead and a dangling, useless dongle, with a massive ass to the west and a couple of unloved children from his first or second marriage literally "out to sea." Anyway, how badly will Mittens beat the jewelry piglet tonight? Or will there be a surprise?

7:45 PM — Polls are closed in the "fancy part" of Florida, with the Jews and the Blacks and the Cubanos and the gay CIA retirees, while polls remain open for another fifteen minutes in the "Dukes of Hazard" part of Florida, with the angry 60-year-old thrice-divorced small-time property speculators fuming in their single-wides tonight. Which part of the state is "more American," anyway?

Good question. I go back and forth.

But it's certainly true that there's a divide in Florida just as there's a divide elsewhere -- if not quite as stark as Wonkette's humorous characterization of it. It's usually described as red state-blue state, but it's not so much a state-by-state divided, it's an urban-rural one, and we see this clearly in today's results. Romney is winning the largely urban and suburban counties, while Gingrich is winning the largely rural ones. (Santorum is doing better in the rural ridings, while Paul is fairly consistent all over the state.) Take Miami-Dade, for example. Mitt's up 61-26 over Newt there, with Santorum at 6. In Escambia, though, the state's westernmost county, up in the panhandle, Newt's up 39-35 over Mitt, with Santorum at 16. These are extremes, but they reflect what's going on all across the state.

10:35 pm - Okay, done. For now. We're all over this Republican race, and we'll have a lot more to come. Stay tuned.

Good night, everyone.

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What Floridians are learning about Newt (and what we're all learning about the GOP presidential race)

Via twitter: 

Top 4 Google searches in FL for Newt? "Callista", "Newt ethics violations", "Newt wives", Newt scandals". Ouch. (link)

-- Chris Cillizza (@TheFix)

What can we learn from this? 

1) Romney's merciless anti-Newt ad blitz has worked remarkably well. 

2) Money is power. Romney has tons of it and has outspent Newt by miles and miles. 

3) Newt is still Newt. He can say he's changed, but his ugly past will always haunt him. 

4) For those voters who don't know anything about that past, who have forgotten, or would prefer not to be reminded, Romney has been more than happy to be Newt's character reference. 

5) The Internet is a powerful source of information, misinformation, and disinformation.

And more generally: 

6) Newt's in big trouble in Florida. Romney will likely crush him by 12-13 points. Maybe more like 15. 

7) The polls close tonight at 7 pm, with some counties in central time. That means all voting will be done by 8 pm eastern time. The over/under on the networks calling it for Romney should be 8:01 and 30 seconds. I'll take the under (earlier). No need to drag this out. 

8) The race won't be over, but it's almost there. Newt could do well in the upcoming caucuses, but they're in the Mitt-friendly states of Nevada and Maine. And he needs Santorum to get out, but that seems unlikely, particularly with the Missouri primary coming up next week. Newt's not on the ballot there. 

9) In case you weren't clear, it's (mostly) the money, stupid. Money, in short, wins. (Sorry, Mr. Beane, but it's true.)

And so... 

10) Republicans may not be enamored with Romney, and he may be a privileged rich douchebag with a plutocratic sense of entitlement and insufficiently right-wing views who will do and say anything for votes, but it looks like they're stuck with him.

Good times.

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This day in music - January 31, 1968: The American Breed's "Bend Me, Shape Me" is certified Gold

By Richard K. Barry

I remember this song. Can't say that I really remember the group, though. Well, sort of. To be fair, they did chart with a few other songs, though "Bend Me, Shape Me" was their biggest hit. If you were a fan, you will know that other efforts by the band that charted include "Step Out Of Your Mind" and "Green Light." Okay.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the group is that they eventually morphed into an R&B/funk band with the name Rufus featuring a singer by the name of Chaka Khan, and in 1974 had a top ten hit with "Tell Me Something Good." That I remember.

Anyway, The American Breed was a Chicago-based group that lasted from 1966 to 1969 before going in a different musical direction. And in their first incarnation they even got a gold record out of the deal.

I love the general grooviness of the video of "Bend Me, Shape Me" and, what the hell, you'll find a clip of "Tell Me Something Good" just below it featuring Chaka Khan.

By the way, "Tell Me Something Good" was written by Stevie Wonder and is among the earliest songs to make use of a guitar talk box. If you know the song, you'll know what that means. 

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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"I wish I could claim that I'm Hispanic": Another helpful glimpse into the shameless, whoring opportunism of Mitt Romney

Mitt just can't help himself. Sometimes, without even intending it, he shows us who he really is, what he's really made of, what he's really all about:

On Monday morning's Fox and Friends, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney let out another one of those "I'm running for office, for Pete's sake!" bursts of honesty which, like a burlesque revue at a leper colony, are revealing, but not in a good way. Asked if his father's Mexican birthplace is helping him with Florida's Hispanic community, Romney replied "You know, I wish I could claim that I'm Hispanic..."

Host Steve Doocy highlighted the fact that Gov. Romney hasn't exactly bragged about his Mexican roots before. "The other night when I saw you at one of the debates in Florida," Doocy said, "you mentioned for the first time in my memory, where you were talking about that anti-immigrant allegation by Newt Gingrich. You were talking about how your father was born in Mexico. It's the first time I'd heard you say that. Is that helping you with the Latino community in Florida?"

Romney replied "You know, I wish I could claim that I'm Hispanic..."

That's a bit of a weird thing to say, but let's hear him out. Does he admire the rich cultural heritage, the strong current of faith, the diverse culinary tradition? Romney continued "...and it would help me with the Latino community here in Florida and around the country, but my dad was born of American parents living in Mexico."

Oh, right, he didn’t say he wished he was Hispanic, just that he wishes he could claim it.

It's almost like this privileged rich douchebag will do and say anything for votes, take any opportunity to sell himself to whatever constituency he needs to woo, and pander without any shame or self-regard whatsoever.

Almost? No, that pretty much describes him out on the campaign trail.

Thanks so much, Mitt. We know you're busy lying, but we really appreciate the unintentional honesty. Keep it up.

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Jailhouse Rock.

by Capt. Fogg

"Well, victims have rights too," is the usual evasion given to the question of why the United States has more people in confinement or under correctional supervision than the Soviet Union under Stalin. Well, of course they do have rights, but it's hard to reach the notion that a victim of a crime, or the state which represents that victim has the right to do anything at all to satisfy the rage we feel when someone harms us or our property from that position. Even the harshest laws of classical antiquity were set in place to hinder the endless cycle of revenge.

Harder it is indeed to get to the level of punishment typical in our land for crimes that in fact harm no one at all: "crimes" that throughout the years include marrying outside the arbitrary dictates of dominant religions, drinking from the wrong faucet, having a beer in private or smoking the herb that makes you feel mellow and sleepy. Most hard to justify is the rage for "Zero Tolerance" that makes judges into clerks and executioners unable to apply reason or a sense of proportion as it relates to crime and punishment.

Imagine, as Adam Gopnik suggests in Mass Incarceration and Criminal Justice in the January 30th issue of New Yorker, "Lock yourself in your bathroom and then imagine you have to stay there for the next ten years, and you will have some sense of the experience." At least 50,000 men don't have to imagine it at the moment, they simply have to be conscious.

Although it's tapered off some recently, we've been given editorials and articles and TV harangues about how prison life is too "soft" for "Criminals" such as some teen who sent a naked picture on a cellphone to another teen and gets life in a cage -- or another unfortunate caught with marijuana who has to endure 10 or 20 degrading and terrifying years and lose his civil rights in perpetuity, but Prison life in the US is a veritable nightmare in comparison to what it is in places like Europe. 70,000 prisoners are raped in our prisons every year where HIV is widespread. Texas alone has sentenced more than 400 teenagers to life imprisonment.

My own state of Florida, with a governor who somehow escaped incarceration for having been involved in the largest Medicare swindle ever, is as I write this, trying to "privatize" Florida's prison system. Is that another way of washing conservative hands of blood or is it simply that to the conservative mind, being profitable makes it moral: a corporation locking up people and keeping the corporate bottom line healthy by squeezing convicts as well as punishing them?

Of course Florida, as many other states have done, turned to prison labor as a substitute for slavery after Liberals ended their horrific atrocities, locking up "vagrants" and selling their "slave" labor for private gain in much the same way as China is accused of when we try to seem better than they are.
" More than half of all black men without a high-school diploma go to prison at some time in their lives"

says Gopnik and mass imprisonment has tainted our mass culture with affluent kids in shopping malls imitating prison dress and speech and tattoos. We wear our incarceration culture on the bodies of our children, like the mark of Cain.
"Mass incarceration on a scale almost unexampled in human history is a fundamental fact of our country today—perhaps the fundamental fact, as slavery was the fundamental fact of 1850. In truth, there are more black men in the grip of the criminal-justice system—in prison, on probation, or on parole—than were in slavery then."

Nor is it tapering off. The rate of incarceration is accelerating; tripling in the last couple of decades and with the tendency toward private slaveholder corporations, the comparison to the anti-bellum south is all the more frightening. We'r e being sold a southern sense of justice, suggests the author, and we sell it, as we sell our wars and our attacks on what we were taught were fundamental rights and even our attacks on reformers with appeals to rage. "If the accused had shot someone in your family, wouldn't you want to kill him?" asks the voice and of course I might, but fortunately for all of us, we have a system of laws, we have a civilization to prevent it. Indeed civilization exists as a brake on our base instincts, which instincts so often destroy it.

Is our current fascination with a withered government that thereby facilitates freedom in some magical way really compatible with a government so concerned with keeping all freedom away from so many people for ever expanding reasons? Or is the subjugation of such a huge number of people only a part of a vast scheme to subjugate most of us, to establish America as a vast plantation for the benefit of a very few slaveholders?

Perhaps not. Perhaps it's simply the fear in which we're all marinating in this safest period in history that's pickled our sense of justice; our fear of terrorists, dope fiends, predators, drunk drivers and heretics, but regardless of where the blame is put, we are, and continue to grow as a nation which more than any others, keeps people in cages and allows other people to profit from it.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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Obama connects better with Americans than GOP contenders

Swiss Francs, Mitt!
Here are some interesting polling results worth passing along.

According to a Pew Research Center/Washington Post poll, 55% of those surveyed say that President Obama connects with the needs of average Americans very or fairly well. This contrasts with 41% who told pollsters that the president doesn't understand the people's problems too well or at all well.

As for the two leading GOP contenders, only 39 percent say that Romney understands the problems of average Americans very or fairly well, and just 36 percent say the same for Gingrich.

As Politico reports on the survey:

Slightly more than half of independent voters, or 53 percent, say Obama is empathetic, while only 38 percent and 37 percent, respectively, had the same positive rating for Romney and Gingrich.

Along party lines, a whopping 84 percent of Democrats say Obama does connect with the concerns of average people. Among Republicans, 61 percent told pollsters Romney does connect well, and 60 percent say the same for Gingrich.

I suppose one could say that the lower numbers for Romney and Gingrich amongst Republicans have to do with the fact that the GOP nomination race is in full swing and these numbers will consolidate around the eventual nominee whenever he is chosen.

But the percentages among independents are interesting. That's a pretty big gap between swing voters who think Obama understands their situation vs. the number who think leading Republicans do.

It may be a simple calculus, but I tend to think people would rather vote for someone to whom they can relate and who can relate to them. After the dust settles and Romney becomes the GOP nominee, there is little doubt in my mind that most American will see the former Governor of Massachusetts as clueless when it comes to the challenges faced by most citizens.

Want to make a $10,000 bet on that? Or maybe we could make the wager in Swiss francs?

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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