ONE: Boom Shakalaka
Baseball is back, and so is a freshly redoubled effort on the part of the Texas Rangers to kill their fans. With food.
2013 is the sophomore year for the Boomstick, a two-foot hot dog smothered in onions, nacho cheese, chili and jalapenos, all heaped on a 22-inch potato bun. The Boomstick, named for the bat of outfielder Nelson Cruz, will set you back $26 at Rangers Ballpark.
These and other food items at the stadium are served up by Delaware North, a company I saluted previously for donating 8,000 pounds of food to Charlotte-area food banks and charities last September, food originally prepared for the President’s nomination acceptance speech at Bank of America Stadium before the event was moved to TWC Arena. The Boomstick generated half a million in sales last season, and this year the dog even gets its own merchandise line, along with some comparably heavy-duty menu companions:
The Boomstick will be joined by the “Totally Rossome” Boomstick ($32), named after Rangers relief pitcher Robbie Ross, which is smothered with smoked brisket, fresh pico, sour cream and Doritos chips. Also on the menu is a whopping 24-ounce bacon burger ($26), a 24-inch sausage ($26), a 24-inch pretzel ($13) and a 24-inch quesadilla ($26) covered with brisket and served on a bed of nacho cheese Doritos.
Last July, in honor of National Hot Dog Month, Delaware North made the gargantuan wiener available for a limited time at six other MLB stadiums. Marketed as the Giant Slugger, it wowed fans of the Padres, White Sox, Cardinals, Twins, Reds and Brewers. Fortunately, the Kansas City Royals (whose food services are provided by The Bigelow Companies) have no equivalent product; they’re having a hard enough time with ordinary hot dogs. The Missouri Court of Appeals recently overturned a frankfurter-related lower court verdict involving the club:
The Kansas City Royals must face a lawsuit from a fan who was hit in the eye by a hot dog thrown by the team mascot, a Missouri appeals court ruled.
John C. Coomer went to a Royals baseball game in September 2009 with his father. After the third inning, the team’s crown-topped lion mascot, “Sluggerrr,” came out for the Hot Dog Launch.
Twenty to 30 hot dogs are thrown to fans or launched from an air gun in the spectacle.
Coomer testified that he while he was looking at the scoreboard, a hot dog hit him in the face, knocking off his hat.
Two days later, Coomer was diagnosed with a detached retina. He underwent surgery for that and again for a cataract, and now has an artificial lens in that eye. He sued the team for negligence and battery in 2010.
Yet whatever the hazards, fans’ love affair with the tube steak looks to remain ardent, according to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council:
… baseball fans will consume [an estimated] 20,421,361 hot dogs over the course of the 2013 season. That’s enough hot dogs to round the bases 28,113 times. It’s also enough to feed all 56,000 fans at Dodger Stadium, Major League Baseball’s largest stadium, for 361 straight home games.
TWO: Gun Shysters
Turning from guns that fire hot dogs to ones that fire bullets, Colorado has been ground zero in the renewed struggle for meaningful gun control. While recent measures passed there are actually pretty feeble, they’ve been sufficient to provoke both gun-huggers and companies that exist to cater to them into some dismayingly childish behavior:
Michael Bane, a producer for The Outdoor Channel, announced he will no longer film his four shows in Colorado, and hunters are joining the protests. It’s reportedly a small number, but growing.
Somehow, against all odds, I believe Colorado will survive Bane taking his creepy, paranoid shows elsewhere, and – bonus! – animals left alone by boycotting hunters will survive too. Democrats, on the other hand, might want to keep their eyes open and their heads down if Dudley Brown, head honcho of a group called Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, is anywhere nearby:
Brown complains that universal background checks are just a step toward identifying gun owners so the government can seize their weapons, and he calls the 15-round limit on ammunition magazines arbitrary. He’s promising political payback in next year’s election that could cost Colorado Democrats their majorities.
“I liken it to the proverbial hunting season,” Brown says. “We tell gun owners, ‘There’s a time to hunt deer. And the next election is the time to hunt Democrats.’ “
Meanwhile, the management team of Magpul Industries (makers of 30-round magazines, buttstocks, shotgun accessories, semi-rigid iPhone cases offering “basic protection in the field,” and other assorted items no free society should be without) are about to pull their operations out of the state, their corporate feelings having been hurt by Colorado’s insistence on background checks and a ban on magazines holding more than 15 rounds:
Magpul employs 200 people directly, ranging from basic assembly workers to product designers and other professionals specializing in weapons-related components…
Like any successful mid-sized business, Magpul nurtures many other businesses, or did until it decided to throw its little corporate tantrum:
As much as possible, the company tries to contract with Colorado vendors, who represent about 90 percent of its supply chain… Those suppliers received about $46 million last year from Magpul, with the company projecting that number to reach $85 million for 2013…
Personally, I project that the company’s projection is marinated in bullcrap, but there’s no doubt that the disappearance of $46 million in revenues to Magpul suppliers is going to hurt.
Texas, Alabama, West Virginia and Alaska are already courting Magpul. Another company, HiViz Shooting Systems, makers of “light-gathering sights, recoil pads and accessories,” announced that it too is cutting and running from the imminent danger of a little more civilization encroaching on Colorado:
“We cannot in clear conscience support with our taxes a state that has proven through recent legislation a willingness to infringe upon the constitutional rights of our consumer base,” HiViz President and CEO Phillip Howe said in a news release.
As of this writing, I’m still trying to find the Constitution’s guarantee of unrestricted access to recoil pads and light-gathering sights, never mind all the goddamned guns. Maybe I should ask Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas, a “Democrat” who:
…hinted on Tuesday that he would oppose a Democratic initiative to expand background checks to all gun purchases, but reiterated his support for an NRA-backed measure that would permit individuals deemed mentally ill or incompetent to purchase firearms more freely.
Why, you ask?
“You know, I’m a Second Amendment guy, everybody knows that…”
Sure thing. I’m a Second Amendment guy too, Senator. I’ve always believed that a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state. Continue reading Take Five (Let’s Play Two edition)
This week marked the tenth anniversary of the illegal invasion of Iraq, illegal as in fraudulently undertaken, thereby invalidating any supposed sanction previously conferred either by Congress or the United Nations, and also incomprehensibly immoral, like all crimes against humanity.
There should be no surcease, ever, of denunciation of the criminal horror unleashed on Iraq by the Bush administration and those who helped enable it, the latter largely for shamefully political reasons. In a nation with such a bounteous supply of prisons, there’s plenty of room to house the guilty for the rest of their lamentably natural lives, and their accomplices for some fraction thereof.
I have no hope that either will ever happen.
This week, fifteen months after the last combat troops were withdrawn from Iraq, the anniversary was marked in George Bush’s “beacon of democracy in the Middle East” with a wave of lethal violence, tersely quantified by the New York Times:
… 57 dead and nearly 190 wounded in separate attacks that included 17 car bombs, 2 adhesive bombs stuck to cars, and a killing with a silenced gun.
This week, Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies released the results of a study conducted by its Cost of War Project. The study found:
The U.S. war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest…
The war has killed at least 134,000 Iraqi civilians and may have contributed to the deaths of as many as four times that number…
When security forces, insurgents, journalists and humanitarian workers were included, the war’s death toll rose to an estimated 176,000 to 189,000, the study said.
Yes, effecting mass death, destruction and chaos is more efficient than ever, yet it still doesn’t come cheap. Of course, that’s not how the Bush junta made its sales pitch. In the run-up to The Decider’s trigger finger getting intolerably itchy, Mitch Daniels, his OMB director, nudged up the saturation on the administration’s already over-saturated blue skies, to obscure what it would really cost in borrowed cash to dust off Saddam Hussein as one would a garden pest and install a compliant regime straight out of whatever remained of Dick Cheney’s wet dreams:
Mr. Daniels would not provide specific costs for either a long or a short military campaign against Saddam Hussein. But he said that the administration was budgeting for both, and that earlier estimates of $100 billion to $200 billion in Iraq war costs by Lawrence B. Lindsey, Mr. Bush’s former chief economic adviser, were too high.
And then he added a scabrous little grace note:
Mr. Daniels cautioned that his budget projections did not mean a war with Iraq was imminent, and that it was impossible to know what any military campaign against Iraq would ultimately cost.
The viciously, deliberately dishonest math behind all this has long been known, although it has constantly been revised upwards. Contrasts were drawn between prediction and reality almost from the outset, despite the best efforts of White House propagandists, supine but incessantly talkative members of Congress, and the jitterbugging marionettes of the mainstream media. The immense gap between the predicted and actual numbers probably still provokes gales of rheumy cackling whenever the old gang gathers around the fireplace for a snifter of brandy or human blood in whatever dank privy the original PNAC signatories still hold their unholy soirées.
TWO: With Fiends Like These…
Over and above the rancor they directed at Democrats, progressives and various other favorite scapegoats for the deleterious effects of their own wretched ideas, participants at CPAC ‘s 40th anniversary shindig last week were also remarkably splenetic toward each other.
Rick Perry brought a McCain/Romney dartboard:
“Now, the popular media narrative is that this country has shifted away from conservative ideals, as evidenced by the last two presidential elections… That is what they say. That might be true if Republicans had actually nominated conservative candidates in 2008 and 2012…”
Rand Paul was even more bluntly insolent to his elders:
“The GOP of old has grown stale and moss-covered… I don’t think we need to name any names here, do we?”
Donald Trump’s post-speech press conference featured another of the oafish magnate’s swipes at Karl Rove:
“This is the same mind that spent $400 million and didn’t win a race. He’s the most overrated person in politics…”
Louie Gohmert discharged a lot of indiscriminate buckshot, some of which winged the Nixon administration:
“Vietnam was winnable, but people in Washington decided we should not win it.”
Sarah Palin continued her lupercalian vendetta against sort-of-Republican Mike Bloomberg:
“Bloomberg’s not around,” Palin joked as she slurped on a giant soda, “our Big Gulps are safe.”
Brent Bozell dragged in a whole sack of grudges. Against, for example, Paul Ryan:
“… your proposed budget that has the federal government spending $41 TRILLION over the next ten years, with more and more and more spending increases every single year, and assumes all the oppressive Obamacare taxes. Congressman, that’s what liberal Democrats do, not us.
“This is not conservatism. It is, literally, Democrat Lite…”
Against Haley Barbour:
“… my friend, when you call for unity and on conservatives to ‘sing from the same hymnal’ and then publicly trash good conservative groups like Club for Growth for supporting good conservatives, you’re out of tune, and you’re out of line…”
Against the House leadership:
“John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Kevin McCarthy… you, like virtually every single other Republican elected to Congress solemnly vowed to rid us of Obamacare, which you can do simply by refusing to fund it. Why haven’t you done so?
“You’ve done nothing for over two years but give us excuses and more commitments that tomorrow, yes tomorrow, you’ll honor your promises. Gentlemen, where promises are concerned, you are not what you promised to be.”
With all the heated infighting, it’s a good thing attendees could buy a Marco Rubio water bottle in the exhibit hall.
THREE: Minority Report I
Desperate to garner votes from minority groups they mostly would prefer not to have anything to do with, Republicans still don’t seem to understand the difference between genuine outreach and simple smash-and-grab.
Take the CPAC breakout session called “Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?” chaired by K. Carl Smith, an African-American conservative. What could go wrong? Lots: Continue reading Take Five (Really, Really, Really Fuzzy Math edition)
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:
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.
Planned Parenthood should be called Planned Infanticide! This is the culture of death, supported by the secular socialist Democrats, run by President Obama!
The Press is the marketing arm of the secular socialist democRATs. The SSD’s
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!
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.
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
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…
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…
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…
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)
This week sees a triple treat of Darryl Issa. Oh goody…..
The nation’s growing Hispanic vote and the House investigation of the Fast and Furious gunwalking operation top the lineups for this Sunday’s television talk shows, with . . . → Read More: Sunday Talks, 6/24/12
I’m afraid the Republicans have misrepresented their sins. Their private conversations seem to be out of touch with their public stance. They are playing verbal hide and seek. Shouldn’t they really be telling the public—the American people who they claim to speak for and represent—what they are telling each other?
I wonder why Republicans are saying something different and closer to their hearts to each other than they share in news outlets in every American hamlet. And why, when they do share, elements of the story are often missing.
A January 2011 memo to Maine’s incoming Republican governor Paul LePage from his communications director and legislative liaison, sent to Maine’s top GOP leaders and the newly elected governor’s inner circle, certainly did not intend to be found out: “Once we take office, Paul will put 11,000 bureaucrats to work getting Republicans re-elected,” he wrote. The governor’s public stance, repeated as an offered promise during his campaign? “People over politics.”
The memo’s ripples jarred a spokesperson for Maine’s Senator Olympia Snowe to deny any knowledge of what seems to be the use of state employees as political pawns. In the Kennebec Journal, the communications director explained his email referred to “effectively enacting our agenda.” The memo breaks no laws. It was written before the governor or his staff took office.
At least Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown had a public change of mind. After “thanking God” that House Budget Committee chair and Wisconsin representative Paul Ryan presented a budget plan that Brown announced he would vote for, he then said in a POLITICO op-ed that he will vote against the Ryan plan, in part because: “I fear that as health inflation rises, the cost of private plans will outgrow the government premium support–and the elderly will be forced to pay ever higher deductibles and co-pays.”
Erza Klein published a recent column with eight common sense questions he wanted to ask and have answered by Paul Ryan about his budget proposal, especially on Medicare. Ryan could, if he chooses, use those questions as a take-home interview and provide written answers. He could put up a video, write an op-ed, or go face to face, having the unique benefit of the questions in hand. But even when the questions are advanced to him, he ducks.
On the other hand, first-term Congressman and Illinois Republican Joe Walsh never ducks. In a Daily Caller op-ed, Walsh, who once asked how many alligators it would take to secure the US border with Mexico, offered his blunt assessment of the positions of American Jews on Israel’s security: “too many American Jews aren’t as pro-Israel as they should be.”
Joe Walsh’s theory on the Obama election:
“Why was he elected? Again, it comes back to who he was. He was black, he was historic. And there’s nothing racist about this. It is what it is. If he had been a dynamic, white, state senator elected to Congress he wouldn’t have gotten in the game this fast. They were in love with him because they thought he was a good liberal guy and they were in love with him because he pushed that magical button: a black man who was articulate, liberal, the whole white guilt, all of that.” [emphasis mine.]
Yet David Brooks, writing in his New York Times column “Medicare Survival Guide” tells of unnamed Republican Congress members who whisper to him in dark corridors they want to save the country “in peril,” without committing “political suicide.”
Why is the choice between saving the country and electoral suicide? Where is the intractable conviction and courage Republicans fondly allude to when they discuss tax cuts that amount to corporate welfare while stifling middle class entry into business ownership because they seek to kill insurance transportability? (Under cover of Obama, they can all switch sides and be welcomed into the Democratic Party!)
After Democrats won a 2011 special election in a western New York district that voted 74 percent Republican the previous November (the sixth most Republican congressional district in the country!), losing with only 42 percent of the vote in a district that had been Republican for more than 40 years, Ryan’s assessment of the loss as a “couple million dollars and a Democratic acting like Tea Party candidate” doesn’t inspire any more confidence than his budget numbers.
The real unspoken point in the political hide and seek is that Republicans at the national level are now simply creating diversions and distractions as Republican state governors and legislators consolidate the politics of command and control at the resource-rich local level.
New Republican governors in sixteen states have shape-shifted from their campaigns, swiftly moving to dismantle barriers to standards in the environment and education, to transfer public funds to private firms without oversight or guaranteed returns, to block ballot access, dismantle programs for women’s health, and to give themselves new powers that are unchecked and absolute.
Some restrictions are micro-managed control, others are seismic. In Ohio, reporters were only allowed to bring pens, notebooks, and recorders to the governor’s budget release event, for example. No video feeds were allowed.
Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin turned down money for building infrastructure for future high-speed rail, guaranteeing jobs now and laying the groundwork for economic progress in the future.
Environmentally, Maine wants to open up 3 million acres of its North Woods for development as a part of the governor’s 63-point plan to remove state environmental protections. Florida is taking the lead in rolling back public funds used for land conservation and protection; its Everglades are in danger. In New Jersey, the governor has said the legislative act that protects 800,000 open acres near the state’s supply of fresh drinking water is “an infringement on property rights.” In Iowa, the governor is overseeing a transfer of regulatory controls to departments serving the industries they will now be in charge of regulating. Among the areas affected will be environmental protections, safe drinking water, and clean air. Continue reading Digging Deeper: When Politics Plays Hide and Seek
Donald Trump was interviewed by a Michigan radio station last week, and the Bilious One, now a Romney backer, heaped scorn on Rick Santorum:
“There’s nothing – there’s no gift, no Christmas gift, that could be given better than Rick Santorum to the Democrats… he basically has no chance… what’s the whole purpose, what’s the purpose of working, working, working, going out voting, doing your thing if the person has no chance of getting elected…”
Trump was asked if he would consider an independent run if Santorum were to clinch the Republican nomination:
“I would say there’s a good possibility that I would do something, yes.”
Which would be grimly funny to watch, but it will never happen. Trump has done this bit so many times now that he’s sucked all the life out of it. Where’s the in-your-face braggadocio and devil-may-care lack of couth he brought to it when he first took it out on the road last year?
Real estate mogul Donald Trump touted his net worth as a selling point over likely presidential contender and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
“I’m a much bigger business man and have (a) much, much bigger net worth. I mean, my net worth is many, many, many times Mitt Romney,” Trump said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I built a very big net worth and I’d like to put that ability … to work for this country.”
And now he’s content to be a Romney shill. Maybe he’s hoping to write off his endorsement-related expenses as a charitable donation to the less fortunate.
Speaking of shills, former candidate Rick Perry is now backing Newt Gingrich, but dreams die hard:
Rick Perry may “absolutely” run for president again and described the debates in the 2012 primary as good practice…
… Perry… said the debates “have absolutely nothing to do with governing.” When asked if they were good practice for 2016, Perry responded “Ya, could be.”
Indeed it could, since in 2016 Republicans won’t be attempting to unseat Barack Obama, but simply to succeed him. Someday maybe Republicans will be able to look back on this election cycle and laugh; until then, it’s the rest of us who get to do the laughing. One Republican who could really use some nyuks is Ed Rollins. Rollins cut his teeth on national politics with CREEP in ’72 and later worked in the Ford and Reagan administrations. He managed Reagan’s 1984 campaign and Jack Kemp’s in 1988, briefly co-managed Ross Perot’s 1992 campaign, and was national campaign chair for Mike Huckabee in 2008. Continue reading Slouching Towards Tampa (From Noxious to Obnoxious edition)
The absurdity is still compelling, but I just don’t find the Republican primary battle much fun anymore. I miss Michele Bachmann. I miss Rick Perry. I miss Herman Cain. I even miss Jon Huntsman, since it was always enjoyable to watch him standing onstage with his rivals while I hummed “One of These Things Is Not Like the Others” to myself.
Sure, there are still some laughs to be had. Last Wednesday’s CNN debate from Mesa, Arizona, for instance, provided a few. The first came 10 minutes before the debate got underway, when former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer, playing pundit, said something to the effect of: If Rick Santorum can look presidential tonight, he could blow this thing wide open. Comedy gold, right?
And the candidates themselves did their best to turn my frown upside-down, beginning with Santorum accusing Romney of adopting Occupy Wall Street’s rhetoric. Even the live audience at the Mesa Arts Center tried to keep me amused, as when they reacted to moderator John King reading a viewer question asking which candidate believed in birth control, and if not, why, by booing lustily. It was a vivid snapshot of the Republican zeitgeist, AD 2012, and – hell, yes – I laughed. Continue reading Slouching Towards Tampa (Blab Four edition)
ONE: Fired Up and Ready to Stay Home!
A couple of weeks back, Take Five looked at a CBS News poll which indicated that voter enthusiasm (meaning a lack thereof) could be a huge problem for the Republicans this year.
The Atlantic Wire recently examined other polls that pretty much confirm the hypothesis. A January 30 Pew poll, for example, pegged the number of Republicans happy with their field of candidates at 46%, while those dissatisfied with it were measured at 52%. As has become a cliché this election year, they can’t resist citing yet another Gallup poll purporting to demonstrate that Republicans remain more enthusiastic about this election than Democrats. The only problem with this is that the accumulating empirical evidence suggests it’s not true.
Nate Silver notes that among “Republican identifiers” only, turnout in Iowa was down 11% over 2008 and New Hampshire was down 15%, and while South Carolina’s turnout jumped 20% over the last presidential election cycle, driven by Gingrich zealots, Florida’s was down 16% from ’08. According to CNN, Nevada’s Republican numbers last Saturday were down by one-third from four years ago.
Watch for increasingly desperate and increasingly amusing spin about all this to emanate from Republican Party apparatchiks and pundits in the coming weeks, but they’ll have to really exert themselves to outdo Romney spokesmouth John H. Sununu, who said this with a resolutely straight and characteristically dour face on MSNBC Monday morning:
In an odd sense when turnout is down, contrary to what you are hearing, people are satisfied with the winning and the candidate that’s winning. They are satisfied with Mitt Romney.
Yeah, sure they are. I’m hoping they’re so satisfied they’ll all stay home in November, too. Sununu’s explanation for that will be priceless.
Ron Paul, seemingly unaware that he himself is a candidate, made some caustic remarks about the Nevada and Florida numbers:
“There’s a lot of people not satisfied with any of the candidates out there,” the Texas congressman said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” “And that’s why in many ways we’re seeing a lower turnout right now…”
Mr. Paul said Republicans are wondering why they haven’t been offered someone else besides Mr. Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
The last time I looked, Republicans were also being offered, aggressively, not only Ron Paul but also Rick Santorum, and not long ago they also had such choices as Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman and Herman Cain, not to mention perplexingly premature dropout Tim Pawlenty and even perennial wingnut darling Roy “Ten Commandments” Moore. And then there was the contingent of maybes whose trial balloons, for the most part, never got any altitude: Chris Christie, Donald Trump, Mitch Daniels, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani.
I apologize for taxing your digestive tract with this litany of names, gentle reader, but I think it points up the fact that GOP voters have had no shortage of choices; they’ve only had a shortage of remotely acceptable choices, even by famously lax Republican standards.
So Romney remains the frontrunner, his three remaining challengers – for various reasons – will hang around a while yet, and Republican voters are less than impressed with the whole spectacle. Hey, it’s nice to agree with Republicans about something, I guess.
TWO: Y’all don’t come back now, hear?
The Charleston Place Hotel has filed suit against the Southern Republican Leadership Conference for non-payment of a $227,872 bill. The SRLC disputes the charge and has declared its intention to launch a counterclaim. In a statement released Monday, the organization said:
“After prepaying over $235,000 to the Charleston Place Hotel, we at SRLC 2012 had an unprofessional experience that directly and indirectly breached our contract causing great harm and distraction to our attendees, sponsors, and staff. The Charleston Place’s attempt to mischaracterize this legitimate dispute as the SRLC’s walking away from a bill is in keeping with the pattern of deception and misrepresentation that is a significant part of our ongoing disagreement.
“We continue to seek a reasonable and equitable settlement even as the Charleston Place’s Management seeks to sensationalize. We sincerely hope that cooler heads at the Charleston Place will prevail and they will acknowledge serious errors and actions resulting in a fair agreement.”
The conference lined up a Jan. 19-22 stay… and booked nearly every room in the luxury hotel in the center of downtown Charleston, according to the lawsuit. Political consultant Robert Cahaly signed the agreement on behalf of the group…
The hotel wants to hold Cahaly and others personally responsible for the tab, arguing that the Southern Republican Leadership Conference is nothing but a corporate shell Cahaly uses to hide from his obligations, the lawsuit states.
Cahaly has kept a pretty low profile since threatening to sue the SC SLED before turning himself in on an arrest warrant last fall on charges of making illegal robocalls in half a dozen House Districts in the 2010 election. While there don’t seem to be any recent updates about that case, I’m already looking forward to this new one. If the hotel really has evidence that the SRLC is a corporate front for Cahaly, I can’t wait to read the details. It’s also going to be fascinating to see if the organization’s counterclaim is predicated on something more substantial and credible than Charleston Place management being unprofessional, deceptive, sensationalistic hotheads.
THREE: You’re Nobody ’til Rick Santorum Hates You
Fresh off of telling a seriously ill child and his mother that drug companies should be free to charge whatever the hell they want for the boy’s medication, Rick “Mr. Sensitive” Santorum told a gay Missouri man that he didn’t deserve the “privilege” of marriage. In doing so, Santorum briefly opened a wormhole into the strange and uncharted dimension that is his mind when he said:
“[Marriage is] not a right, it’s something that has existed since the beginning of human history as an institution where men and women come together for the purposes of forming a natural relationship as God made it to be. And for the purposes of having children and continuing that civilization. It is an intrinsic good… And as a result of that, we extend a privilege. We extend certain privileges to people who do that because we want to encourage that behavior…”
Actually, Senator, you don’t need to bother encouraging that behavior, since your enthusiastic advocacy of another type of behavior helps ensure that humans, gay or straight, won’t be around to mess up Creation much longer anyway:
A day before Republicans voice[d] their presidential preferences in the Colorado caucuses, Rick Santorum dismissed climate change as “a hoax” and advocated an energy plan heavy on fossil fuels.
True to form, Santorum couldn’t opine on this without dragging his close personal friend, God, into it:
“We were put on this Earth as creatures of God to have dominion over the earth, to use it wisely and steward it wisely, but for our benefit not for the earth’s benefit,” Santorum told an audience at the Colorado School of Mines where he was a guest speaker Monday at the Colorado Energy Summit.
“We are the intelligent beings that know how to manage things and through that course of science and discovery if we can be better stewards of this environment, then we should not let the vagaries of nature destroy what we have helped create…”
The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania argued that science has been hijacked by politicians on the left, and that climate change is “an absolute travesty of scientific research that was motivated by those who, in my opinion saw this as an opportunity to create a panic and a crisis for government to be able to step in and even more greatly control your life…
“I for one never bought the hoax. I for one understand just from science that there are one hundred factors that influence the climate. To suggest that one minor factor of which man’s contribution is a minor factor in the minor factor is the determining ingredient in the sauce that affects the entire global warming and cooling is just absurd on its face and yet we have politicians running into the ramparts, unfortunately politicians who happen to be running for the Republican nomination for president who bought into man-made global warming and bought into cap and trade…”
Small wonder that Sarah Palin’s star has faded; with Rick Santorum in the news, fans of nonsensical word salad can get their fill and more. At least until catastrophic climate change leads to their extinction, that is.
Oh, and about that “sauce” he mentioned… never mind. Continue reading Take Five (Do Not Disturb edition)
Tomorrow’s Florida primary probably won’t result in Rick Santorum or Ron Paul heading for the exit sign, but it will move both of them a step closer to it.
That pleasant thought got me wondering what the other Republican dropouts were up to these days. Turns out they’re all keeping busy, though probably not without some regrets here and there about what they’re busy with.
Michele Bachmann has set her sights on another term representing the Minnesota 6th. Well, maybe:
Speaking on Fox News, Bachmann seemed caught off guard when asked directly if she’d be running for a fourth term.
“I, very — yes,” she said.
However, Bachmann quickly qualified her response to indicate that it was an option she would be considering.
“I believe I’ll be looking at that, very seriously looking at coming back for a fourth term.”
Her hesitance seems to be contagious:
The contentious nature of the primary season, coupled with some high-profile missteps, sent her back to Minnesota with a low favorability rating in her home state.
According to a statewide Public Policy Polling survey released on Tuesday, only 34 percent of those polled have a positive view of her, while 57 percent have an unfavorable view.
Only 37 percent said she should run for reelection.
She can look forward to some traveling, at least:
Former Republican presidential candidate and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann has been named as a witness in a messy, multimillion-dollar federal lawsuit in Nashville.
Led by prominent Republican fundraiser and millionaire Bill Hemrick of Brentwood, a group of Middle Tennessee conservatives sued California businessman Anthony Loiacono for $19 million in November over a failed venture to create a television network devoted to the tea party movement. The plaintiffs claim Loiacono used their investments as his “personal bank account.”
Loiacono first responded by challenging Hemrick to a “lie detector challenge.” He has since formally responded to the lawsuit and claims Hemrick and co-plaintiff Mel Martin are primarily responsible for Tea Party HD’s demise. He has countersued the plaintiffs for $1 million alleging defamation and abuse of process.
He also filed a lengthy list of 50 anticipated witnesses in the case, including Bachmann and other prominent conservatives such as commentators Ann Coulter and Phil Valentine; Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips; and state lawmakers Rep. Glen Casada and Sen. Jack Johnson of Williamson County.
Great stuff. The report goes on to note that Tea Party HD produced Bachmann’s response to the 2011 SOTU. That was the response where she looked earnestly at a spot somewhere off-camera, as if she were speaking not to you, the viewer, but to your neighbors. Tea Party HD will be missed.
You’ll be delighted to know that the former candidate still finds time for fun, and one thing she’s always found fun is denying non-heterosexuals their rights:
Eagan, Minn. — Minnesota pastors and lawmakers who support a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one woman aim to develop varied strategies to win voter support.
At a strategy session [Friday]… the Faith and Freedom coalition discussed ways to sell the marriage amendment to people who may not hold their fervent views.
… the room came to its feet for a last-minute appearance by Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, who first proposed a marriage amendment when she was a state senator…
“I think if you want to talk to people who are not interested in talking about the morality you can also come at it as “should people be allowed to vote,” Bachmann said.
A minister in the back of the room offered up a prayer for Bachmann. A pastor from Minneapolis asked for advice on how to talk about the amendment with parishioners who are parents of gay children.
Bachmann said she wasn’t an expert, and switched back to her main line of argument, that people should get to decide the laws they live under.
Coincidentally, Bachmann had appeared on The O’Reilly Factor the night before to share her lack of expertise about running for the presidency. Some snippets:
I loved the debates. I wish I could have been a part of every single debate. I wanted to answer every question. It’s a wonderful process because it helps to explain positions to people across the United States and explain why Barack Obama can’t have a second term. It’s a wonderful process…
… if you go all the way back to August — whoever goes to the top, they don’t stay there very long and they go straight down. And people have a very short shelf life. And it’s almost like the voters have whiplash. They go from one candidate to another and they — they completely go with one candidate and then they’ll hear some information and they’ll move away. And so people are looking for perfection…
The fact on the ground is that you have to have money to be able to keep the mother ship going.
Bachmann’s not the only ex-candidate to return home with a tarnished reputation:
Governor Rick Perry has gotten a rocky welcome home to Texas, facing low poll numbers and criticism over state expenses related to his failed campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
Travel for Perry’s security team cost the state nearly $800,000 between September and November, according to a new report from the state Department of Public Safety.
Money well spent, I’d say, since it indirectly helped the nation remain safe from a Perry presidency by keeping him on the stump week after uproarious week. Texas Democrats are demanding that he reimburse the state, but Perry’s probably more concerned over a different sort of fallout from his face-plant on the national stage: Continue reading Slouching Towards Tampa (Where Are They Now edition)
ONE: None of the Above, Thanks!
While I can no more imagine voting for a Republican than I can imagine myself conducting the Seoul Philharmonic or being named World Series MVP, that doesn’t mean I’m completely without sympathy for Republican voters. Mostly, sure, but not completely.
Last April, a Washington Post-ABC News poll showed less than half of Republican and right-leaning independent respondents were satisfied with the nascent GOP crop of candidates. The poll’s “field” at the time consisted of Mitt Romney, Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachman, Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty. Two of them never ultimately ran, two of them fizzled out, and one of them was flirting with a run solely for the sake of boosting the ratings of his extraordinarily dim reality show.
A Pew poll conducted the same week found that 53% of people surveyed couldn’t come up with a name – putative, purported, potential, preposterous or otherwise – when asked which candidate they’d been hearing most about.
Fast-forward to January 9, when a CBS News poll found that 58% of Republican respondents still wanted more choices for a nominee. And that was even before Bachmann, Huntsman and Perry dropped out, leaving sad-sack GOP voters with a narrow spectrum of options ranging from an ethics-impaired pseudo-intellectual clod to an antediluvian reptile masquerading as an advocate for liberty to a clueless empty suit who fancies himself a titan of free enterprise to a loathsome pipsqueak who spent more time crotch-sniffing than he ever spent conducting The People’s Business as a senator.
Yet the poll also indicated that 41% of GOP voters described themselves as more enthusiastic than in past elections, something only 21% of the Democrats and independents surveyed said about themselves. So what is it that they’re so enthusiastic about? Who the hell knows? Perhaps they’re enthusiastic about not voting:
The number of Republican voters taking part in the New Hampshire primary and Iowa caucuses dropped significantly this year, a Globe review of data shows.
The drop-off in Republican participation, compared with other years without a GOP incumbent, follows recent polls that indicate a high percentage of the party faithful is less than enthusiastic with the choices offered for the nomination. Analysts say there may be a combination of factors contributing to the decline in party faithful voting.
To paraphrase Saint Paul, Republicans are a piece of work, which passeth all understanding.
TWO: “Incredibly naive, almost stupid”
In the wake of Rick Perry’s decision to vamoose from the ol’ campaign trail, a Christian conservative conclave in Texas was left baffled, bewildered and basically befuddled. Who among the remaining claimants to the Republican nomination strikes the perfect balance between prurient, repressive social conservatism and absolute indifference to vicious capitalist depredation, a balance that so appeals to those who just love ‘em some Jesus and yet despise His message? Rick Santorum, come on down!
Fueled by prayer and passionate speeches, Christian conservative leaders meeting in Gov. Rick Perry’s home state reached a “strong consensus” to support former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum for the GOP presidential nomination, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins said [January 14].
It took Perkins and his confreres three ballots to settle on Santorum, but I’m not even sure why there was any suspense involved. A few days before he and his mob met to bestow their blessings on a new standard bearer, a report in the Washington Post confirmed that Santorum is their dream candidate. The Post examined a charity Santorum had established to aid low-income Pennsylvanians. As it happens, “Operation Good Neighbor”:
… spent most of its money to run itself, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees for fundraising, administration and office rental paid to Santorum’s political allies.
The charity also had significant overlap with the senator’s campaigns and his work on Capitol Hill. Among the leading donors to the foundation were Pennsylvania development and finance firms that had donated to his election efforts and had interests that Santorum had supported in the Senate…
Before it folded in 2007, the foundation raised $2.58 million, with 39 percent of that donated directly to groups helping the needy. By industry standards, such philanthropic groups should be donating nearly twice that, from 75 to 85 percent of their funds.
“That’s exceptionally poor,” Ken Berger, president of Charity Navigator, a national organization that rates charitable groups, said of the Santorum group’s giving. “We would tell donors to run with fear from this organization.”
And well you might, Mr. Berger, but only because you don’t appreciate the intricate construct of hypocrisy, hard-heartedness and hellacious antipathy to truth that candidates like Rick Santorum (and sleazoid snake oil merchants like Tony Perkins) represent.
But there’s just a little more pious goodness to this story:
[Doug Wead,] a leading evangelical and former aide to President George H.W. Bush said he agreed with suspicions voiced by others at the meeting of evangelical and conservative Catholic activists that organizers “manipulated” the gathering and may even have stuffed the ballot to produce an endorsement of Mr. Santorum over former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Mr. Santorum, who nearly upset Mr. Romney in the Iowa caucuses, won the first ballot ahead of Mr. Gingrich in Saturday’s Texas meeting but the margin was too slim for organizers to claim a consensus. It was not until the third ballot, taken after many people had left to catch flights back home, that Mr. Santorum won more than 70 percent of those still in attendance and claimed the endorsement…
Mr. Perkins strongly defended the Texas meeting as “a remarkable gathering of conservatives leaders.”
Yes, it certainly does sound remarkable. Last word to Mr. Wead:
… Mr. Wead, who said meeting participants were warned not to discuss the gathering in the media, was still upset and said the entire exercise was misguided.
“The idea of evangelicals meeting this late to select a candidate always struck me as incredibly naive, almost stupid. It is way too late for that,” he said.
Amen, sir. Amen.
THREE: Way Out West
If there’s one thing Arizona doesn’t need, it’s another hateful dolt in elected office. The state can’t even keep the ones it already has from appearing in cringe-worthy news stories.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio, for example, was recently named Arizona campaign chairman for Rick Perry, who dropped out of the race less than two weeks later, leaving Arpaio with nothing much to do except finalize his “cold case posse” investigation into President Obama’s eligibility to hold the office he’s held for three years and six days now.
Governor Jan Brewer, no slouch herself when it comes to hateful doltishness, mounted her own attack on President Obama just yesterday. Color the Arizona Republic chagrined:
President Obama arrived on Wednesday afternoon for a run-of-the-mill campaign speech using an Intel facility in Chandler as a backdrop. He was greeted by the usual assortment of local dignitaries, including Gov. Jan Brewer.
Which turned out to be Mistake No. 1.
Brewer handed the president a letter and apparently said something about the border and about the state’s economic recovery. Apparently, Obama said something about Brewer mischaracterizing their White House meeting in her book, Scorpions for Breakfast. Apparently, things went downhill from there. Apparently, the president and the governor couldn’t stop talking over each other’s words…
The image of Arizona’s governor wagging a scolding finger at the visiting president on the tarmac at Phoenix International Sky Harbor Airport now pretty much defines this state’s relationship with Washington, D.C., to the world.
Far from offering contrition after her boorish display, all Brewer could talk about afterward was the scary black guy who climbed out of Air Force One:
“I felt a little bit threatened, if you will, and the attitude that he had because I was there to welcome him,” Brewer told reporters following the exchange.
But not so fast, Joe and Jan! For Arizona, the barrel now has a new bottom, and his name is JT Ready. And (as of January 13, 2012) he’s a Democrat: Continue reading Take Five (Take My Candidate, Please edition)