Center stage on this Sunday’s television talk shows is a special edition of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” which is joining Facebook to host the last Republican presidential debate before Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.
It will be the . . . → Read More: Sunday Talks, 1/8/12
ONE: Gaffe Riot
As his campaign careens toward Iowa, Rick Perry continues to astound audiences with his comprehensive knowledge of nothing and his uncanny inability to open his mouth without saying something ridiculous. As Perry staggers, stumbles, slips, skates and slides, gaffe by gaffe, from presumptive nominee to predictable punch line, it’s increasingly nerve-wracking to hear the gears grinding in his head whenever he speaks.
The candidate ended November by pleading with a young crowd in New Hampshire to vote for him next year if they will be at least 21, apparently ceding the 18-20 demographic to his rivals without a fight. He also asked that they cast their votes on November 12, 2012, a bold but ill-advised strategy, since that will be six days after the election.
The next day, he told Fox News about his preparations for the New Hampshire caucuses, but New Hampshire, of course, has a primary, and I suspect Rick Perry won’t be cleaning up in it, not least because he’s too busy preparing for non-existent caucuses.
Easing into December, the candidate criticized the Supreme Court’s “eight unelected and frankly unaccountable judges” and referred to one of them as “Montemayor” in an interview with the long-suffering editorial board at the Des Moines Register.
For further reading, The Daily Beast has helpfully catalogued some of Perry’s most noteworthy gaffes. They don’t list them all, of course – very few sites have that much server capacity – but it’s instructive to review the list and reflect on the notion that Perry was initially considered the savior of his party’s sweaty quest to take back the White House.
Perry discussed his penchant for pratfalls with the Fox and Friends team in some detail:
“Look, I’m a human being; I’m going to make some mistakes from time to time in my remarks… but here’s how I look at these issues, generally speaking, over the course of my 10-plus years of being the governor of the state of Texas: When someone doesn’t want to talk about the substantive issues, when they don’t want to talk about the flat tax that I’ve laid out, when they don’t want to talk about a major overhaul of Washington, D.C., like going to a part-time Congress, which most of the states operate very well with, they want to find some little error that you made and go talk about that.”
What Perry doesn’t appreciate is that proposals like a flat tax and a part-time Congress are, in and of themselves, intellectual gaffes of the meanest order. Hell, even a lot of Republicans find these ideas ineffably silly, which is why they turned their lonely eyes first to Herman “I never met a woman I didn’t like” Cain, and, when that didn’t work out, to the enormous sentient gasbag that calls itself Newt Gingrich.
Perry’s best bet would be to pack his bags and return to Austin right now. After almost 17 years of being governed by George Walker Bush and Rick Perry, Texans are a little more forgiving of gaffes, verbal, intellectual and otherwise, than most Americans. Or at least more resigned to their inevitability.
TWO: Dumb, Dumber and Marginally Less Dumb
Last March Chris Matthews said something stupid. And of course he’s said thousands of stupid things since, but the March comment is in the news again because it led someone else to say something even more stupid.
Matthews had this to say about Newt Gingrich just before the former Speaker put a toe in the water for the GOP nomination:
“He looks like a car bomber, he looks like a car bomber … he looks like a car bomber,” Matthews said, interjecting when Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page suggested Gingrich might just have the stuff to win the Republican nomination.
Matthews continued: “He’s got that crazy Mephistophelian grin of his. He looks like he loves torturing. Look at the guy. This is not the face of a president.”
Uh… yeah. This inanity resurfaced Thursday when Mark Steyn, guest hosting on Fox News, aired the Matthews clip and asked Brent Bozell for a comment. Bozell was all too happy to oblige:
“How long do you think Sean Hannity’s show would last if four times in one sentence, he made a comment about, say, the President of the United States, and said that he looked like a skinny, ghetto crackhead?” Bozell wondered. “Which, by the way, you might want to say that Barack Obama does.”
Uh… yeah. You might also want to say that Bozell has the intellect of a horse tick, but you won’t, because you’re a smarter and better person than Brent Bozell. So is Mark Steyn, just barely, although he gamely tried to out-stupid Bozell by offering his own remarkably odd portrait of Gingrich:
… a “big, cuddly, slightly older Winnie the Pooh.”
Uh… yeah. Ten days to Iowa, folks. It’s only going to get worse from here…
THREE: “Pout, damned snot!”
Well, now those Republicans have gone and done it. They’ve driven Donald Trump right out of the party! The Republican turned Democrat turned Republican turned independent this week:
… he did so because he is “disgusted” with the way Republicans are handling matters in Washington, including the recent payroll tax cut deal. But the move also sets Trump up for a potential third-party run for president…
Trump has sought to reach out to the group, Americans Elect, an online, independent presidential nominating organization that has already made it on the ballot in several states, including California.
“Couple Donald Trump’s name recognition with his extraordinary wealth and Americans Elect truly becomes a viable force in determining who the next president will be,” Trump’s top political adviser Michael Cohen told ABC News.
Of course he’s only doing this to save face after being snubbed by all but two GOP candidates (Santorum and Gingrich) when it was announced that he would moderate a debate on December 27. Trump being Trump, he would never admit to having been made to look foolish, so he loudly made himself look even more foolish from behind this elaborate smokescreen:
“The Republican Party candidates are very concerned that sometime after the final episode of The Apprentice, on May 20th, when the equal time provisions are no longer applicable to me, I will announce my candidacy for President of the United States as an Independent and that, unless I conclusively agree not to run as an Independent, they will not agree to attend or be a part of the Newsmax debate scheduled for December 27, 2011. It is very important to me that the right Republican candidate be chosen to defeat the failed and very destructive Obama Administration, but if that Republican, in my opinion, is not the right candidate, I am not willing to give up my right to run as an Independent candidate. Therefore, so that there is no conflict of interest within the Republican Party, I have decided not to be the moderator of the Newsmax debate. The American people are embarrassed by the gridlock currently taking place in Washington. I must leave all of my options open because, above all else, we must make America great again!
So now Trump has to continue the possible independent candidacy charade, at least until he can figure out some other way to keep his name in the headlines. That’ll take about a week, I reckon. Continue reading Take Five (Uh… Yeah edition)
Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, at various times, have led the Republican field of presidential hopefuls, and similarly, both candidates have seen their polling numbers decline rapidly as soon as they, you know, opened their mouths and said stuff. As Herman Cain continues to ride high (and you have to know Reince Priebus is starting to get a little concerned about that), Perry and Bachmann could both be headed for single-digit obscurity.
That could all change in a matter of days or weeks, of course. The only predictable thing about the race to date has been its comic value, and Bachmann and Perry have at least kept the farce coming along with the fail.
When God tried to contact Rick Perry about running for president, it was Perry’s wife Anita who took the call:
“There was a nagging, pulling at my heart for him to run for president. He didn’t want to hear a thing about running for president. He felt like he needed to see the burning bush. I said ‘Look, let me tell you something. You may not see that burning bush but there are people seeing that burning bush for you.’ “
A mere 10 weeks in, that bush isn’t the only thing on fire. With several engines ablaze, Perry’s campaign is losing altitude by the day. It might be wise to hose Anita down, for starters. Judging from remarks like this, her brain is overheating:
“It’s been a rough month. We have been brutalized and beaten up and chewed up in the press… We are being brutalized by our opponents, and our own party. So much of that is, I think they look at him, because of his faith. He is the only true conservative – well, there are some true conservatives. And they’re there for good reasons. And they may feel like God called them too. But I truly feel like we are here for that purpose.”
And I would truly feel that Mrs. Perry’s jaw flapping is deliberately intended to sink her husband’s campaign, except that the candidate’s own jaw flapping is having much the same effect. Let’s take a few examples from his recent Q&A with PARADE:
What do you feel is most misunderstood about you?
That everyone from Texas is alike.
Move to strike as non-responsive.
Have you seen the film An Inconvenient Truth?
Have you read the book?
No. I generally don’t watch or read a lot of fiction.
Ah, see what he did there? But he knows that it’s fiction… how?
In the past, you’ve said that “unless my family is at gunpoint, I will not go to Washington, D.C.” If you’re elected, do you plan to govern from Texas?
Look, millions of Americans who’ve served the country didn’t want to go where they were sent, but it was their duty. I don’t consider this any different.
So does someone need to hold his family at gunpoint for him to do his duty, or not?
Okay. Here’s an easy one.
Oh, I thought you were going to ask my favorite color.
What the hell? Didn’t he mean to say “red”?
Tell me the differences between you and George W. Bush.
You don’t have enough pages. We grew up differently. We have different value sets.
Huh. I guess they had enough pages after all. Yet Anita, who was also interviewed, notes at least one ominous similarity:
He’s really somebody that you want to go have a beer with, truly.
Swing and a miss, though she nearly foul tipped it; if I had to spend any amount of time with Rick Perry, at a minimum I’d sure as hell want beer, and a lot of it. Paint thinner or Sterno would do in a pinch.
Perry’s hothouse flower routine is increasingly bizarre, and when something stands out as noteworthily bizarre in a Republican presidential race, you have a problem. While his wife bemoans Perry’s treatment at the hands of his rivals and his party, Rick openly regrets his decision to debate his rivals:
“These debates are set up for nothing more than to tear down the candidates. It’s pretty hard to be able to sit and lay out your ideas and your concepts with a one-minute response,” the Texas governor told Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly. “So, you know, if there was a mistake made, it was probably ever doing one of the [debates], when all they’re interested in is stirring up between the candidates instead of really talking about the issues that are important to the American people.”
Anxious to lay out his ideas and his concepts and needing significantly more than one minute, Perry unveiled his tax plan last week:
The Perry plan offers taxpayers the choice of paying under the current federal tax system, or under a new flat tax of 20 percent that would be applicable to all individuals, no matter what their income…
… even though Perry bills his plan as refreshingly simple — anyone paying under the flat-tax system need only file on a postcard, he likes to point out — it is anything but that. By giving taxpayers an option of whether to pay under the current or flat-tax systems, he would maintain the complexities of the current tax system and layer an entire new tax system on top of it.
Good thinking, Governor. But why stop there? How about an Offense Department to complement the Defense Department? Perhaps an Interstate Parkway System? Or a Peripheral Intelligence Agency? Maybe a USPS PS? National parkettes?
Former IRS attorney Michele Bachmann put out her own tax proposal this week, and like any self-respecting Republican, she wants to raise taxes unilaterally. Wait, what?
“For my tax plan, I take a page out of one of my great economists that I admire, Ronald Reagan. And under my tax plan, I want to adopt the Reagan tax plan. It brought the economic miracle of the 1980s…”
During the Reagan years, the total effective tax rate ranged from 29.2% to 30.7%. By comparison, today’s rate is 27.7%. In other words, depending upon which year of Reagan’s presidency one considers, Bachmann’s proposal would raise taxes by between 1.5% and 3%, across the board.
And that’s not the only fiscal question mark hanging over Bachmann’s candidacy. After a month without getting a paycheck or any respect from the national campaign team, all five of her New Hampshire staffers resigned. The New Hampshire campaign evacuees are merely the latest in a continuing series of defectors: Continue reading Slouching Towards Tampa (Brother Sunstroke, Sister Moonbat edition)
ONE: Further Adventures of Governor Goodprayer
Fresh from praying his evil little heart out last weekend, Texas Governor Rick Perry is barnstorming South Carolina, New Hampshire and Iowa this weekend. Just what have those fine states done to deserve this? Beats me, but it must have been really awful.
Perry will be appearing at the RedState Gathering in Charleston on Saturday. Following his address to the conservative faithful, Perry will brush his hair, munch on canapés and conduct a brief bombardment of Fort Sumter. Then it’s off to a party in New Hampshire Saturday evening for more canapés, and presumably more brushing. Sunday will find him in Waterloo, Iowa, birthplace of none other than Michele Bachmann.
And Monday is apt to find Perry leading the GOP field in every major poll, at which point all hell’s going to break loose as the pack of sudden also-rans frantically vie to portray themselves as the most God-fearin’, gun-lovin’, immigrant-bashin’, marriage-defendin’, Obama-opposin’, tax-cuttin’, Islamofascist-defeatin’, free market-fellatin’ honest-to-gawd genuine dyed-in-the-wool bullet-headed mother’s-milk conservative to come down the pike since, say, Fred Thompson.
And about Perry’s prayerstravaganza, it seems that Reliant Stadium’s 71,500 seats were more than ample for The Response. Most news stories put the attendance at about 30,000, but judging from photos of the event, it was surely less than that.
It’s a shame, then, that Perry couldn’t cede Reliant to Houston’s other big public gathering that day, a back-to school event that attracted 100,000 people in search of free school supplies, health and dental check-ups, immunizations, and fresh fruit and vegetables.
Beatrice Jones, who has two children in the Spring school district, arrived about 10:15 a.m. with her daughter and niece, only to find the doors closed and a police officer announcing the event was over.
“They were supposed to have school supplies, but all we got was sweating and paid parking,” Jones said.
School Superintendent Terry Grier posted a Twitter message Saturday morning that security personnel had estimated the crowd at 100,000. At about 10 a.m., officials made the call to close the doors.
Try praying next time, Ms Jones. If it’s good enough for Rick Perry, it should be good enough for the peons. Continue reading Take Five (Campaign Trail Mix edition)
ONE: Time for Georgia and Alabama to consider a border fence?
Maybe it’s just the weather, but a few Florida-centric crime stories from last week suggest that some people’s synapses are really beginning to short-circuit a tetch.
That may not be much of a revelation, given the state’s reputation, but even by Florida’s usual standards, last week was a suspiciously weird one.
Consider this odd incident in Utah, involving a Floridian, nudity, and a gun:
Joseph Dennis Alfieri, 50, was cited by the U.S. Forest Service on Sunday with being publicly nude and causing public inconvenience, annoyance and alarm, both misdemeanors. According to information filed Monday in U.S. District Court, a woman camping near the Cobble Rest Campground tracked down forest rangers to report a man walking in a dispersed camping area naked while armed with a pistol.
The woman told rangers the man wore only a holster for his pistol, according to court documents. He reportedly walked around the camping area “at all hours of the night” shouting at the river, the witness said.
Just what that darned river did to piss him off will likely not be known until a court can sort this out, but it appears that Alfieri has a developing habit of behaving badly when way out west:
Federal court records show Alfieri’s address is listed as North Miami, Fla., but property records show he has previous Utah addresses in St. George, Park City and Salt Lake City. Utah state court records show Alfieri pleaded guilty to a DUI-related charge in 1996.
Months ago, I urged Rick Scott to consider imposing a temporary moratorium on out-of-state travel until Floridians can all learn to comport ourselves in a law-abiding fashion. Sure, such a travel ban would violate both state and federal statutes, but it would still be a smart move. That being the case, we can rest assured Governor Scott won’t entertain the idea, so residents of the other 49 had better brace themselves for more buck-naked Floridian pistoleros. At least concealed carry won’t further complicate things, or so we must hope.
Another Floridian, Cherilyn Lopez, decided to keep it local, and she made it a family affair to boot:
A woman who brought in a 3-year-old boy with her when she robbed a bank today told deputies that she has a prescription drug addiction and was going to use the money to buy narcotic pills, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said…
Deputies learned that Lopez originally drove to the bank and parked, leaving the boy in the minivan, the sheriff’s office said.
She entered the bank, but the boy got out of his car seat on his own and headed to the bank. He put his face against the glass and a bank manager noticed him. The bank manager approached Lopez and asked whether the boy was with her, the sheriff’s office said.
Lopez walked outside and grabbed the boy. They walked in and she robbed the bank, the sheriff’s office said.
Huge kudos to the bank manager for ensuring the child’s safety, and here’s to Lopez getting the help she needs. Or, as a baseline, at least considering a sitter next time…
Finally, the sole witness to a burglary in Ocala appears to have reaped a quick reward… from the perp(s):
One of the homeowners told a sheriff’s deputy that he and his wife had left their residence, located in the 3100 block of Southeast 22nd Avenue, around 1 p.m. They returned about 5 p.m. and discovered the break-in.
Removed from the residence was $13,000 worth of jewelry and $400 in cash. Officials noted it appeared the thief/thieves had removed rotisserie chicken from the refrigerator and fed it to the dog.
The homeowner told the Star-Banner that he had purchased the chicken the night before from Publix, and it was found on the living room floor when he discovered the burglary. Continue reading Take Five (We’re Having a Heatwave, a Tropical Heatwave edition)
ONE: Life During Wartime
A few months from now, we’ll have flushed away 10 years occupying Afghanistan for reasons that still don’t pass the smell test, and it seems that, just maybe, the shared wartime sacrifice called for by neither George Bush the Lesser nor his Oval Office successor has become unavoidable, at least in some jurisdictions.
The New York Post reported last week that toilet paper was apparently being rationed by bathroom attendants in the women’s rooms at Coney Island:
Regina Ballone, 25, of Brooklyn visited a boardwalk bathroom at West 16th Street Wednesday and was “grossed out” at the thought of someone else handling her toilet paper.
“Never in my life have I experienced anything like this,” she said. “I walked toward a stall, and a bathroom attendant stopped me by shouting, ‘Hey, mami! There’s no toilet paper here,’ and she whipped out a big roll for me to grab some.”
However, the initial report was quickly deemed crap by the Parks Department:
The Parks Department refused to say how much it budgeted for toilet paper and other supplies, with a spokeswoman saying only, “Bathroom supplies are stocked daily, and our budget for these supplies is consistent.
“There’s no need to ration, and we’ll make certain our staff does not do so,” added the rep, Meghan Lalor.
Staff were demonstrably not doing so in the men’s rooms, at least:
Toilet paper rationing isn’t an issue in the men’s rooms — but only because they apparently don’t have any to ration. The toilet paper was gone whenever a The Post reporter went to inspect the men’s rooms.
The following day, the Parks Commissioner more or less un-denied the prior denial and came clean on the whole nasty affair:
Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe ended the rationing of toilet paper at Coney Island yesterday — admitting that The Post’s potty exposé left him flush with embarrassment.
“We don’t know why [some workers] decided to ration toilet paper. Clearly . . . it was a mistake,” Benepe said.
“The economic conditions are challenging, but not that challenging. If you go there today, you’ll find toilet paper in every stall,” he said. “It’s our business to help New Yorkers do theirs.” Continue reading Take Five (Precious Bodily Fluids edition)
ONE: Flakes One to Know One
Michele Bachmann, Teabagger extraordinaire and airhead apparent to the Republican presidential nomination, has had a busy week, formally declaring her candidacy, talking about stuff and then trying to explain what she meant, aggravating musicians, fending off accusations that she’s a two-faced recipient of government largesse, and more.
Beats working, I guess, and anything that keeps Bachmann from doing her business in “The People’s House” is arguably all to the good.
The festivities began with an already notorious appearance on Fox News Sunday, during which the reliably oily Chris Wallace asked her point blank:
Are you a flake?
Bachmann’s response should have been to kick the little bastard squarely in the crotch, but she retained her dignity, marking the first time (and the last, I devoutly hope) that I’ve ever felt a stir of admiration for her:
“Well, I think that would be insulting to say something like that because I’m a serious person…”
Putting aside whether that’s true or not, she easily made Wallace look like the flake he is, and for that she deserves thanks, but since I sort of set the tone by using the word “airhead” above, I’m now going to continue mocking her.
TWO: “Sont les mots qui vont très bien ensemble…”
The newly-minted Bachmann campaign hit a sour note when their use of the Tom Petty song “American Girl” reportedly prompted the irate composer to send Bachmann a cease-and-desist letter.
A Republican making unauthorized use of a tune written by a liberal seems pretty unpresidential, but let’s not be too hasty. Petty’s been down this road before, and the last time around, fortune, Ralph Nader and five Supreme Court Justices conspired to put the song pilferer in the White House:
After Petty’s 1989 single “I Won’t Back Down” was used at Bush campaign events, publisher Randall Wixen (of Wixen Music Publishing, Inc. and Gone Gator Music) wrote the letter at the behest of Petty. It states, “It has recently come to our attention that your presidential campaign has been using the above-referenced song in connection with your presidential bid. Please be advised that this use has not been approved . . . Any use made by you or your campaign creates, either intentionally or unintentionally, the impression that you and your campaign have been endorsed by Tom Petty, which is not true.” Continue reading Take Five (American Girl Walking on Sunshine edition)
ONE: Allez cuisine!
Last Monday evening’s TV viewing was a no-brainer. It was the first time these worthy opponents had faced each other, after all, and expectations were high. Would it be a triumph for age and experience, or would youth and a reputation as an up-and-coming hotshot carry the day? Would fresh ideas edge out the old and stale? Would the presentation have a broad appeal or a narrow one? Would there be tasty confrontations, testy exchanges, toasty collegiality? Most crucially, would the ice cream machine see any action?
Yes, I’m referring, of course, to Iron Chef America, a thrilling episode featuring Mario Batali pitted against Kitchen Stadium rookie Ian Chalmerkittichai. And the secret ingredient on which the chefs offered their succulent variations was… lentils! The daring Chalmerkittichai cooked his heart out, even whipping up a lentil ice cream, but by a score of 53 to the challenger’s 48, the victor was Batali, whose cotechino and lentil tower with fried lentil tortellini was dazzling.
Despite being four years old, the episode did not disappoint. Once it was over, there wasn’t a damned thing on worth watching, so I switched over to CNN, which was broadcasting the Republican “debate” in New Hampshire. And gag me with a platitude, what a feast of bromides and boilerplate it was, made all the more inedible by being moderated by the execrable John King.
Where to begin with this cheesy, fallen soufflé?
Well, Michele Bachmann appeared calmer than usual, though no less irrational, and she used the occasion to semi-formally announce that she’ll be formally announcing:
“I just want to make an announcement here for you, John, on CNN tonight. I filed today my paperwork to seek the office of the presidency of the United States today. And I’ll very soon be making my formal announcement.”
Because this means she has to dissolve her Congressional re-election committee, I suppose I ought to congratulate the Minnesota 6th, but since they’re the folks responsible for pushing this grotesque onto the national stage in the first place, I won’t. Continue reading Take Five (The Insignificant Seven edition)
If you accept the tongue in cheek definition of insanity being “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different . . . → Read More: Republicans Propose Same Failed Economic Ideas in New Hampshire Debate