Take Five (Did You Hear His Middle Name's Hussein edition)

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ONE: Q – What’s the difference between the Republican Party and a flat earth society? A – It’s a trick question. There is no difference.

With a second Obama term looking more and more assured, Republicans across the nation are hurrying to make complete dicks of themselves about it, blathering shrilly about everything from the ascendancy of an Obama-nurtured caliphate, to fraudulent electronic birth and Selective Service records, to everybody’s guns being confiscated, to conservatives being thrown into FEMA concentration camps, to Michelle Obama destroying America’s youth with healthy food, to Stalinist death panels for granny, to [insert dimwitted, hysterical conspiracy theory here].

In other words, all the same stale crap we’ve been hearing for four years, just louder and more urgent than usual.

Take Alabama Republican Party chair Bill Armistead, for example. Armistead, eager to avoid talking about, you know, policy and stuff, put on his film critic hat for a gathering of the Eastern Shore Republican Women last week:

Armistead suggested that audience members see the movie ‘2016: Obama’s America,’ a documentary by conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza that is critical of the president.

“If you haven’t seen it, you should,” he said. “But I’m going to tell you about another movie. The name of it is ‘Dreams From My Real Father.’ That is absolutely frightening. I’ve seen it. I verified that it is factual, all of it. People can determine.”

The movie… claims that Obama’s real father is Frank Marshall Davis, an American labor activist and organizer for the Communist Party USA.

Understandably, Armistead didn’t detail how he went about his verification. In the courtly Deep South, it’s still considered bad manners to mention rummaging around in your own ass to a roomful of ladies, especially Republican ones.

While Armistead dips a toe into irrationality, David Howard, a Republican member of the Montana Legislature, is pretty near up to his uvula in it. Kudos to Don Pogreba’s superb blog Intelligent Discontent for shining a cold light on Howard’s Monday Facebook post:

If we lose this election the Secular Socialist Democrats will place two more secular anti-American Justices on the Supreme Court and kill America from within…

This could force American Patriots into a Civil war to regain our freedoms. Where we won’t be able to worry about being offended by what some people in a political party do or don’t do!

Yeah, don’t you just hate it when that happens? And if an impending Civil War doesn’t scare you, no problem. Howard, who calls himself a “principled conservative,” has plenty more kindling to set his hair – and, he no doubt hopes, yours – on fire. It’s a veritable Bonfire of the Inanities. Herewith, some verbatim excerpts from his recent posts:

September 12:

In the Islamic world, if you are not Muslim, and if they don’t fear you, they can justify killing you through their Religion of Hate!

They killed our Ambassador because they don’t respect or fear America. The reason, we have a bend over President, who hates Americas imposing excellence and wants America to be a weak secondary Country.

Obama’s intolerance for America’s excellence is weakening America, and has enabled the hate monger Muslims to kill our Ambassador.

We live in a dangerous world, an eye, for an eye world. Therefore, we have to be both the most benevolent Country but when attacked, we have to be the Country that will take no shit off of anyone.

September 14:

Planned Parenthood should be called Planned Infanticide! This is the culture of death, supported by the secular socialist Democrats, run by President Obama!

September 19:

The Press is the marketing arm of the secular socialist democRATs. The SSD’s

September 22:

The definition of Madness is Extreme folly! That describes the Obama’s “Sorry they had to kill Americans ad on Pakistani television”. I would call it an anti-American Insanity!

September 23:

The question begs to be asked, are Christian Pastor’s today speaking Christ’s truth in the Public Square or have they played into the hands of Satan and rationalized themselves into committing the sin of silence that God warned Ezekiel against…

Yes pastor’s do your God given duty: Speak the truth from the pulpit.

September 26:

This morning the Muslim Brotherhood warned the United States that if the United States continued meddling in Egypt , Libya , and other potential hot spots in the Middle East, they intend to cut off America’s supply of 7-11 and Motel 6 managers. If this action does not yield sufficient results, cab drivers will be next, followed by Dell, AT&T and AOL customer service reps.

Finally, if all else fails, they have threatened not to send us anymore presidents either. It’s gonna get ugly, people

September 26:

MONTANA’S GOVERNMENT IS LIKE A KILLERING AND EATING IT’S HARD WORKING CITIZENS!

You don’t even want to know what some of the comments on these posts are like, although you can probably guess. Howard has all kinds of support in Stillwater County and in the broader wrongosphere, people who actually cheer for his loathsome opinions and revolting bigotry. Pogreba somberly notes that Howard is:

… a leader of the Stillwater County Republicans, and the Chair of the House Human Services Committee. He’s also a member of the Judiciary, Agriculture, and Ethics Committee.

TWO: Hungry for Knowledge

David Howard wasn’t the only politician active on Facebook recently. Mayor Greg Stanton of Phoenix was too, and deserves great praise:

This week I’ll join staff and board members from the Arizona Community Action Association (ACAA), the Valley of the Sun United Way and others in the community in the weeklong SNAP Experience when we’ll limit total food purchases to the weekly budget of a typical SNAP participant:  $4.16 a day.  That’s about $29 a week for one person and $97 a week for a family of four…

I’ll be adding to this post daily with a diary entry of my experience…

Day 1

In thinking about this exercise, I did some homework.  In July of this year, there were 1.1 million Arizonans on SNAP, about twice as many as there were before the downturn in 2007… 1 in 4 Arizona kids are food insecure, and 1 in 5 households in Arizona struggled to put food on the table last year. The Phoenix metro area is ranked the 34th worst, in terms of hunger- out of the 100 largest metro areas.  We’ve got a lot of families fighting to get by here…

Day 3

I wonder how folks with health problems get by on SNAP.  An individual with diabetes has got to stay away from too many simple carbs, and have protein at every meal to maintain level blood sugar.  By far the cheapest food items are potatoes, noodles, tortillas and white bread…

Day 5

Identifying, in a concrete way, with struggling families is an important exercise for any leader. By walking in the shoes of those who depend on the SNAP program, I certainly feel like I’ve gained critical perspective as a policymaker.  From a broader perspective, I’m starting to think about all the other challenges families on food stamps (SNAP) must face at the same time they are stretching their food benefit. Census data in 2010 showed Arizona had the second highest poverty rate in the nation with 21.2% of its citizens living in poverty. The national figure was 14.3 percent. We’ve improved since then, but we’re still in the 10-poorest states category.  Worse, women raising children alone here aren’t doing well.  More than 45% of mothers raising children by themselves are in poverty…

Stanton, you won’t be surprised to learn, is a Democrat, and despite the tough times Democrats have been experiencing in Arizona for, well, forever, I’m sensing that the tide could finally be turning. The Obama campaign might be thinking the same thing:

Signaling confidence, Obama’s team is considering competing in Arizona.

Obama looked at competing in Arizona in 2008, but decided against it because of the support there for home state Sen. John McCain, the GOP nominee. Obama still won 45 percent of the vote.

This year, Obama’s team talked early on about running in Arizona, which offers 11 electoral votes, but it never did. Now, with an internal Democratic poll showing Obama narrowly leading Romney, Obama’s team might make a play for the state that has seen a 160,000 increase in voter registrations by Democratic-leaning Hispanics over the past four years.

THREE: Not Lovin’ It

I don’t mind admitting that the plastic-headed Burger King from the Burger King commercials always scared the hell out of me, and the fast food chain’s decision last year to retire the character was a great relief. Imagine my horror, then, when I learned that the polyethylene potentate has been spotted again, skulking around Rome, Georgia:

Police were called to a local McDonald’s in relation to a disturbance caused by a man dressed as the Burger King…

Police stated that, upon his arrival, the Burger King mascot reportedly began to hand out free hamburgers to customers, and stopped to take pictures with several children.

Officers were additionally told that one child ran away from the man in fear…

I sympathize, kid. So just what prompted the maleficent monarch’s appearance at the Golden Arches? Old scores to be settled? Territorial conquest? Hatred of clowns? Apparently none of the above:

The McDonald’s manager told authorities she had approached the unidentified man before calling police. When asked what he was doing, the man allegedly told the manager he was collecting money for charity…

Before leaving in his white Acura, the man removed his mask in view of the manager, the paper learned. She then described him as a white, middle-aged man with dark hair, according to the report.

That wasn’t the only peculiar incident in what was a non-banner week for McDonald’s. A patron in Oregon took the “problem customer” archetype to a whole new, scary level:

A Gresham man was arrested Sunday afternoon after allegedly throwing soda in a McDonald’s manager’s face and smashing a cash register after a dispute over onions on his quarter pounder burger…

According to Gresham Police reports, [Jayme John] Leon went to the McDonald’s at 2231 N.E. 181st Ave. late Sunday afternoon and ordered a quarter pounder without onions, then left the restaurant. When he got home he said he found onions on the burger. He called McDonald’s, where an employee said the restaurant would refund his money and give him a new burger.

However, when he arrived at the McDonald’s at 4:48 p.m., he didn’t have the burger, only the drink he ordered.

“Since he ate the quarter pounder, McDonald’s would not refund his money, sending Mr. Leon into a McFury,” said Sgt. Claudio Grandjean, Gresham Police spokesman.

Sarge, if your law enforcement gig doesn’t work out, you might think about a career in McMarketing. The Jayme John Leons out there need to be brought back into the fold somehow, lest they end up at Burger King or, worse, having Burger King come to them. Continue reading Take Five (Did You Hear His Middle Name’s Hussein edition)

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Slouching Towards Tampa (Big Mac Daddy edition)

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Mitt Romney’s little reminiscence about poking around in his father’s sock drawer and discovering a free-McDonald’s-forever card signed by Ray Kroc himself was, amazingly, not quite the weirdest story from the right-hand side of the campaign trail last week. I’ll get to the weirdest one below, but I’m still fascinated by the runner-up.

Romney was speaking to a crowd at a Chicago fundraiser when an attendee mentioned having worked for McDonald’s, and its head honcho directly, for many years. The invocation of Ray Kroc apparently activated something in the candidate’s personal anecdote database, a database that has served Romney only fitfully to date as he oils his way around the nation in search of cash and votes:

“You know how boys liked to go through their dad’s top drawer, just to sort of see what he has in there, maybe find an old coin he might not miss?” Mr. Romney asked the audience…

“I found a little paper card, a little pink card, and it said this entitles George W. Romney to a lifetime of a hamburger, a shake and French fries at McDonald’s,” Mr. Romney said. “It was signed by the hand of Ray Kroc.”

Mr. Romney said that when “I saw this thing [I] was like, ‘This is a gold mine, Dad!’”

“So I had it laminated,” Mr. Romney said. “My dad, as you know, would go almost every day to a McDonald’s restaurant and get either a hamburger or a fish filet sandwich. And he would present this little card, and of course, the person behind the counter would look and say, ‘Well, what is that?’ They’d never seen something like that, but he said it was never turned down.

“They always honored it,” Mr. Romney said.

Let’s just consider this in context for a moment. Kroc bought McDonald’s in 1961 from the eponymous brothers who opened the first McDonald’s outlet, so that’s the earliest possible date for the drawer incident. Romney would have been about 14 at the time. George Romney, meanwhile, had been head of American Motors since 1954, had been named Man of the Year in Industry by the Associated Press four consecutive times by 1961, and was a millionaire on the strength of the astonishing rise in his company’s share price under his management.

Against this background, George Romney’s younger son was rifling through Dad’s dresser, looking for… well, let’s say maybe an old coin. And the famous auto tycoon, at least after the lamination his larcenous son generously arranged, didn’t pay for his many orders at the Golden Arches; instead, he simply flashed a card which none of the McDonald’s employees recognized, but which was nonetheless sufficient to prompt them to give him his grub for free.

It’s a measure of the overweening aura of strangeness of most of Romney’s personal anecdotes, I guess, that I can find this story completely believable. Peculiar, even vaguely creepy for reasons I can’t explain, but completely believable.

What I still find totally unbelievable, despite empirical evidence for it, was the hands-down weirdest Romney campaign story of the week. I’m referring, of course, to Paul Ryan being tapped as his running mate. While I’ll be disparaging everything there is to disparage about Paul Ryan in the next installment of this column, right now all that occurs to me that I should have seen this coming.

After all, Romney and Ryan had a chance to bond during their Wisconsin crime spree back in April, when the pair plied their audience with free eats at a Cousins Subs:

The Democratic Party obtained video of the luncheon from one of its staffers who attended the event. In the video, Romney says, “So bring your friends to the polls, get out and vote and if you want another sandwich, there are more back there.” Romney and Ryan interchangeably ask voters whether they want “turkey, ham or Italian” subs. The subs in question ranged from $4.49 to $4.99.

Naturally, in true GOP style, the Romney campaign treated the ensuing criminal complaint with juvenile derision:

WISN 12 News received a statement from the Romney campaign, which called the complaint laughable.

“This is a laughable stunt by the Democrats designed to distract from President Obama’s disastrous polices that have resulted in record job losses and skyrocketing gas prices. Democrats are willing to do and say anything to avoid a discussion about the president’s three years of failure in the White House.”

Sadly, the hoagie racketeers were cleared by Waukesha DA Brad Schimel, who is – if you’re not sitting down, please do so right now – a Republican. And far more significantly, Leopold had found his Loeb, Sacco his Vanzetti, Butch his Sundance. And now they want to take their crime spree national. Continue reading Slouching Towards Tampa (Big Mac Daddy edition)

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Take Five (Yes, Virginia edition)

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ONE: Suppose They Gave a Primary and Nobody Came

A funny thing happened on the way to March 6. That’s the date on which Virginians will cast their vote in the state’s Republican primary, and the funny thing is that Newt Gingrich, a Virginia resident who has recently been at or near the top in virtually all GOP polling, couldn’t come up with the signatures needed to get on the ballot. Just to add to the fun, neither could Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann.

Instead, Virginia primary voters will have to choose between the only two candidates running campaigns savvy and organized enough to have qualified: Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. Their rivals simply couldn’t meet the state’s dauntingly stringent qualifying requirements, which include finding 10,000(!) Virginians conservative enough to sign a Republican nominating petition, with a minimum of 400(!) signatures gathered from each(!) of the state’s Congressional districts, a Sisyphean task made even harder by the shocking stipulation that those gathering signatures in the state must be qualified Virginia voters(!), just like Virginia resident Newt Gingrich.

The Perry team supposedly submitted almost 12,000 signatures by the filing deadline, while the Gingrich campaign claimed 11,050, but sufficient signatures were found to be invalid to sink both bids.

Gingrich, that longtime veteran of the Party of Personal Responsibility, immediately started pointing his surrogate’s finger at others. In a Facebook post which will live in infamy, campaign director Michael Krull stated:

“Newt and I agreed that the analogy is December 1941. We have experienced an unexpected set-back, but we will re-group and re-focus with increased determination, commitment and positive action. Throughout the next months there will be ups and downs; there will be successes and failures; there will be easy victories and difficult days – but in the end we will stand victorious.”

Hmm. Stirring stuff. Krull tersely noted that the campaign is “exploring alternate methods to compete in Virginia – stay tuned.” Actually, one such alternate method was invoked to no avail in a statement last weekend:

Krull said Gingrich… will pursue “an aggressive write-in campaign” to appear on the ballot.

The only problem with that being that write-ins are prohibited on Virginia primary ballots, something that Newt Gingrich (who – it bears repeating – is a Virginia resident) might have known if only he’d ever paid any attention to something other than himself.

But Krull’s larger point remained: Newt is not to blame! It’s society’s fault, man:

“Only a failed system excludes four out of the six major candidates seeking access to the ballot. Voters deserve the right to vote for any top contender, especially leading candidates.”

By yesterday, Newt must have realized the “failed system” gambit wasn’t working, so he abruptly switched scapegoats:

… the former House speaker said the “mistake” occurred because one of their workers committed fraud.

“We hired somebody who turned in false signatures. We turned in 11,100 – we needed 10,000 – 1,500 of them were by one guy who frankly committed fraud.”

At this rate, a few more days and he’ll be claiming to have uncovered evidence of an ACORN connection.

Mitt Romney hurried to ridicule his opponent:

“I think he compared that to Pearl Harbor,” Romney said of the Gingrich campaign’s failure to get on the Virginia ballot, which the former speaker’s adviser called a “set-back.”

“I think it’s more like Lucille Ball at the chocolate factory,” Romney said. “You’ve got to get it organized.”

Well, that’s clever enough, though as one CNN reader commented: “Nothing says relevance like references to a black & white, long off-the-air sitcom.” We’ll just leave Mitt to his cynicism. Krull has already reassured Gingrich’s Facebook followers that the campaign “will continue to learn and grow,” and I for one can’t wait. It’s over two months away, but next year’s Super Tuesday is already shaping up to be the most super ever!

TWO: A Candidate Named Sue

Unlike Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry’s not the sort of petulant guy who would throw an adolescent fit about not making the Virginia ballot. He’s the sort of petulant guy who would file a lawsuit over it:

“Gov. Perry greatly respects the citizens and history of the Commonwealth of Virginia and believes Virginia Republicans should have greater access to vote for one of the several candidates for President of the United States,” Perry campaign spokesperson Ray Sullivan said in a statement.

The suit challenges “the constitutional validity of the Virginia statute which regulates access to the ballot by presidential candidates and limits the rights of voters to vote for the candidate of their choice,” the campaign said.

Perry’s filing (PDF available here) claims:

20.              Virginia’s requirement for petition circulators to be either eligible or registered qualified voters in the state imposes a severe burden on Plaintiffs’ [sic] freedoms of speech and association because it substantially limits the number of eligible petition circulators.

21.              Virginia’s requirement for petition circulators to be either eligible or registered qualified voters in the state is a severe burden on Plaintiff’s freedoms of speech and association because it prohibits an otherwise qualified candidate for the Office of the President of the United States from circulating his own candidate petitions.

22.              Virginia’s requirement for petition circulators to be either eligible or registered qualified voters in the state prohibited Plaintiff from recruiting petition circulators who live outside the Commonwealth of Virginia to circulate petitions on his behalf.

Amusingly, Exhibit F to the filing is a web page printout from foxnews.com featuring an AP report about Perry failing to make the ballot.

Now, I’m not one of those activist judges Perry’s always railing about except when he wants one to find in his favor. In fact, I’m not a judge at all, but if I were, my rulings with regard to the above would be pretty much as follows:

20.              Virginia’s requirement for petition circulators to be either eligible or registered qualified voters in the state limits the number of eligible petition circulators to a maximum of roughly 5,000,000 people, based on available tallies by the Virginia State Board of Elections in 2008 and excluding several years of population growth, thereby imposing no demonstrable burden on the Plaintiff.

21.              The inability of the Plaintiff to find a sufficient number of petition circulators from a pool of roughly 5,000,000 people suggests that a significant number of Virginians might dispute the Plaintiff’s claim to be a “qualified candidate for the Office of the President of the United States.”

22.              It is undeniable that Virginia’s requirement for petition circulators to be either eligible or registered qualified voters in the state prohibited the Plaintiff from recruiting petition circulators who live outside the Commonwealth of Virginia to circulate petitions on his behalf, but the Court is frankly baffled by the Plaintiff’s willingness to believe that people from other states like him any better than Virginians do.

In layman’s terms, suck it up, Rick. Case dismissed.

THREE: Pop Charts

Gallup released its annual year-end “Most Admired” lists on Tuesday. Hillary Rodham Clinton tops the list of most admired women for the 10th consecutive year, earning a nod from 17% of survey respondents, while Barack Hussein Obama, also at 17%, is first on the men’s list for the fourth consecutive year.

The President had no meaningful competition for top slot; placing a very distant second on the men’s list, at 3%, was George W. Bush, which I interpret to signify that respondents were nearly six times more likely to admire someone who cleans up messes than someone who makes them.

Sharing 2% were Billy Graham, Bill Clinton and Warren Buffett. Steerage on this little ego voyage was occupied by Donald Trump, Bill Gates, Pope Benedict and Newt Gingrich with 1% each, along with President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Thomas Monson, a ranking not approached by the two Mormon presidential hopefuls.

Oprah Winfrey placed second to Secretary Clinton at 7%, with the First Lady a couple of points back at 5%. From there, the women’s list meanders down into murkier territory, with the bottom five names on the list each at 2%. These last include Queen Elizabeth, Margaret Thatcher, Ellen DeGeneres, Laura Bush and none other than Michele Bachmann, who makes the list for the first time, proving perhaps that if you’re in the news sometimes, by gosh, someone’s going to admire you. Continue reading Take Five (Yes, Virginia edition)

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Take Five (Who'da Thunk It edition)

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ONE: Scumhog Millionaire et al.

Donald Trump wrapped up his latest and most Rococo exercise in crass, self-aggrandizing buffoonery on Monday with the altogether unsurprising announcement that he has decided not to vie for the GOP Presidential nomination after all.

Trump used the opportunity both to pat himself vigorously on the back and to indulge in some rank untruths, all of which was also altogether unsurprising:

“This decision does not come easily or without regret, especially when my potential candidacy continues to be validated by ranking at the top of the Republican contenders in polls across the country.”

What Trump should have said is “ranking down there with ditch water,” since his Icarus-like fall from political favor has been swift, despite most Republican voters being unable to distinguish Shineola from, let’s say, um, Santorum:

Trump’s support for the Republican nomination fell from 26 percent in April to just eight percent in early May in surveys done by Public Policy Polling.

The announcement came hot on the heels of Mike Huckabee’s admission a couple of days earlier that he doesn’t particularly feel like getting his ass kicked by Barack Obama next year either:

“All the factors say go, but my heart says no.”

Trump was quick to offer up this ludicrous tidbit of congratulation and commentary on the Huckabee announcement:

“Mike Huckabee is not going to be running for president. This might be considered by some people, not necessarily me, bad news because he is a terrific guy — and frankly I think he would be a terrific president. But a lot of people are very happy that he will not be running, especially other candidates. So, Mike, enjoy the show. Your ratings are terrific. You’re making a lot of money. You’re building a beautiful house in Florida. Good luck.”

Now, you might be thinking at this point that the race for the Republican nomination just got a little more rational. And you would be dead wrong:

Rep. Michele Bachmann said Tuesday she’s close to deciding whether to jump into the 2012 presidential race, and she suggested that Mike Huckabee’s and Donald Trump’s exits from the field make it more likely she’ll get in.

Huckabee’s and Trump’s decisions have “changed the grass roots and what they’re looking for,” the Minnesota congresswoman said on Fox News Channel on Tuesday. “Our phones have been ringing off the hook, our Facebook has been lit up, our donations are pouring in. People are saying ‘Michele jump in, we want you to run.’’

Bachmann has decided to utilize a two-tier approach to campaign fundraising:

… asking supporters to choose to donate small amounts if they want her to stay in the House, or larger amounts if they want her to pursue the presidency.

No word yet on how big a donation is required if one simply wants her to shut up and disappear, but I have my checkbook handy. Continue reading Take Five (Who’da Thunk It edition)

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