Take Five (What a Fool Believes edition)

ONE: Bleatings from Asbury Park, N.J.

Which little city has the sixth-best beach in New Jersey, was famously name-checked in a Bruce Springsteen album title, and just got a self-appointed Republican nanny? If you guessed Asbury Park, then kudos to you, even if you only got it from the subtitle above.

Louise Murray used to serve on Asbury Park’s city council, and although the predominantly blue burg no longer has to put up with her in that role, it will have to endure her tenure as chair of the local Republican Party, a position she assumed this week. Murray’s avowed first order of business is to “concentrate on re-energizing the Republicans in the city,” and if you’d like an example of what it apparently takes to re-energize Republicans, here you go:

Beachgoers may be surprised to learn beachwear is illegal on the boardwalk in Asbury — and one resident wishes the city would enforce the dress code rules.

Louise Murray… spoke during public comment at the June 20 council meeting about the issue.

Murray’s remarks no doubt sent an electric shock right through the hindquarters of local Republicans:

“I’ll be darned if I want to be standing at a bar and have somebody slither up in a Speedo or bikini that shouldn’t be in a bathing suit,” Murray said. “It’s disgraceful… I implore you to enforce this, but do not amend it.”

Good thinking. This will finally give Asbury Park’s 86 police officers something to concentrate on other than a violent crime index over five times higher than the national average. And – bonus! – Murray’s position has the support of at least one local Democrat:

Deputy Mayor John Loffredo responded, “I honestly don’t disagree with you.”

So here’s to a boardwalk unadulterated with butt-floss, postage-stamp-sized banana hammocks and other assorted fashion crimes. After all, as Murray insightfully points out:

“I don’t want to go back to 1940 or 1950 but the bottom line is you have on your books an ordinance — no person clad in bathing attire shall be on the boardwalk or public walks adjacent thereto,” Murray said. “Asbury Park was known for being the classiest boardwalk in the summertime. You never went down there unless you were dressed.”

Even if The Boss didn’t want you to be:

“Chasin’ the factory girls underneath the boardwalk where they all promise to unsnap their jeans…”

For all her admirable heavy lifting in New Jersey, I do hope Louise Murray stays away from Oregon. I’m just not sure how she might react to a recent wardrobe-related incident there, what with the GOP being The Official Political Party of JesusTM and all:

State police say a 26-year-old Texas man, who identified himself as Jesus Christ, has been arrested after he was discovered disrupting traffic near Roseburg wearing only his underwear and socks…

The man, whose name has not been released, was able to evade arrest from [a state] trooper for disorderly conduct, even after the trooper used a baton and pepper spray to try and subdue him.

A vacationing, off-duty Virginia police officer who was in the area and an officer from Roseburg soon joined the fray to help apprehend the man.

The Roseburg officer used a Taser on the man as the state trooper and Virginia officer put him in handcuffs.

Now, I don’t know if God so loved the world that He couldn’t even wait until His only begotten Son was fully dressed before sending Him back to this screwy planet, but the last time the authorities got hold of Jesus, things went south pretty quickly. And now we wait uneasily to see if Governor Kitzhaber gets involved, or whether he washes his hands of the matter.

TWO: Joe Rockhead

Viewers of The 700 Club got a rare treat recently when Congressional aspirant Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher related to the program how he came to Christ. It all began when his youth pastor invited him out for a bite and told him to bring along a science book:

He put the Bible on one side and I put the science book on this side.  He said: Okay.  Read the cover. And I don’t exactly remember, you know, if – my biology or chemistry book, but I do remember this, you know: “Revision 7.”

And he said: Now look at the Bible. What’s it say? I said: “Holy Bible.” He said: Do you see any revisions on it, Joe? I said: Well, no. He says: Well, the reason why is because this is God’s word. You know, it was right the day it was penned, as it is now, as it will be in a hundred years or a thousand years. Man’s always looking for an answer. That’s why it’s revised.

It hit me like a ton of bricks right then and there, and I accepted Jesus Christ there at Frisch’s Big Boy, and it was – it was pretty incredible.

Pretty incredible? The only way it could be more incredible would be if Joe had seen the face of Jesus on the rye bun of his Brawny Lad.

Along with this artful pandering to evangelical voters, Joe is making sure to kiss some NRA ass, as well. A recent web video offered up an idea so thoroughly scrambled it makes the ravings of Wayne LaPierre seem almost rational:

Mr. Wurzelbacher released a campaign web video in which he blamed the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide on gun control laws.

“In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917 one-point-five million Armenians, unable to defend themselves were exterminated,” Mr. Wurzelbacher says in the clip. “In 1939, Germany established gun control. From 1939 to 1945, six million Jews and seven million others unable to defend themselves were exterminated.”

Mr. Wurzelbacher’s video features footage of him on a shooting rage blasting fruits and vegetables with a shotgun. As the clip draws to a close, Mr. Wurzelbacher, gun in hand, proclaims, “I love America.”

Maybe you do, Joe, but why do you hate her produce?

THREE: Birth of a Notion

A chastened Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett appeared in Take Five late in May, apologizing for having made his state a laughingstock by pestering Hawaii to provide proof that the President was born there:

“If I embarrassed the state I apologize, but that certainly wasn’t my intent,” Bennett, a Republican, told Phoenix radio station KTAR.

Bennett must believe that his brief lapse into remorse cost him some of his GOP street cred, so last week he decided to just go for the conspiracy theory gold:

Secretary of State Ken Bennett says he’s convinced Obama was born in Hawaii, but he now believes the president fraudulently claimed to be born in Kenya so he could get into college. He also believes the president has spent millions of dollars since then to cover it up…

“So if there was weird stuff going on,” he said, “I actually think it was happening back in his college days because I think he has spent $1.5 or $2 million through attorneys to have all of the college records and all of that stuff sealed. So if you’re spending money to seal something, that’s probably where the hanky panky was going on.”

I have to disagree, Ken. I think the weird stuff is still going on. Weird stuff like 59% of Arizona voters actually believing you’re fit to be their Secretary of State. That’s so weird I still have a hard time believing it. Continue reading Take Five (What a Fool Believes edition)

Take Five (Mooks'n'Mamalukes edition)

ONE: Say It Ain’t Joe

Joe Arpaio has had one hell of a run. Twenty years as sheriff of a county now comprising 3.8 million people is no mean achievement, especially if said sheriff has a propensity to bend, bludgeon or break the law routinely.

It would be foolish to assume that his run is necessarily over, no matter how things seem to be unfolding for Arpaio, but I’m pleased to see that things seem to be unfolding rather badly for him. As buzzards circle over Maricopa County, John Dougherty (who has covered the sheriff from the beginning) notes that Arpaio is running out of friends:

The latest Arpaio political supporter to fall is former Maricopa County attorney Andrew Thomas, who was disbarred April 10 for engaging in unethical conduct to intimidate and smear his and Arpaio’s political adversaries…

Thomas’ disbarment comes six months after Arpaio’s closest ally in the state Legislature was recalled from office. Angry voters ousted former Senate President Russell Pearce for his leading role in passing Arizona’s controversial immigration law, SB1070… Pearce was once Arpaio’s chief deputy and is credited with coming up with the idea 20 years ago of housing thousands of county inmates in tents.

Arpaio has also lost key support staff within his office, including his longtime chief deputy David Hendershott, who was fired last year for his role in an unfolding Arpaio campaign finance scandal that is the subject of another federal criminal investigation.

The Thomas disbarment, in particular, should make Arpaio sweat, since the Arizona Supreme Court disciplinary panel:

… said there was enough evidence to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the sheriff and three of his closest allies participated in what the panel believes was federal crime in December 2009.

Uh-oh. What with the campaign finance probe, an ongoing DOJ investigation into possible civil rights violations, and speculation mounting that a three-year grand jury investigation into abuse of power allegations will soon result in criminal charges, it’s tempting to think Arpaio might be stopped before he can win a sixth term this fall. Which would be terrific, not least because Arpaio’s buddies over at WND would surely gnash their teeth and rend their garments in hilarious fashion were old Joe to be brought down. Until or unless that happens, WND frantically continues to lobby Congress to follow the lead of Arpaio’s cold case posse:

PETITION DEMANDING THAT CONGRESS OPEN AN INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION OF BARACK OBAMA’S CONSTITUTIONAL ELIGIBILITY TO SERVE AS PRESIDENT, IN LIGHT OF THE FIRST OFFICIAL LAW ENFORCEMENT PROBE INTO THE MATTER DISCOVERING “PROBABLE CAUSE” THAT BOTH OBAMA’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE AND SELECTIVE SERVICE REGISTRATION FORM ARE FORGERIES.

WND claims that 47,321 people have already signed the petition. It seems that the way to a birther’s heart is through the caps lock key.

TWO: Joeverkill

Every stinking time God turns around, some politician is invoking Him or justifying an ill-chosen career by blaming its every detail on poor old omnipresent God.

“God says vote for me.”

“God told me to support all that bad legislation.”

“God told me to run again and act like all that bad legislation I supported is something to be proud of.”

“God says vote for me again.”

As if to demonstrate his political bona fides, first-time Congressional candidate Samuel Wurzelbacher – AKA Joe the Plumber – doesn’t think God is on his side, he knows it. Just like he knows a bunch of other things that are also false:

Obama’s ideology is un-American, I say that every day, and I won’t shut up about it.

Obviously he won’t.

His views are socialist. He’s been hanging around with them for a very long time. It’s connecting the dots, it’s very simple. It’s not conspiracy theory, it’s not a bunch of hoopla, it’s real. And people have to call it out, and not be afraid of the media slapping them down. I won’t be.

Hey, God – may I call You God? – if You’re really on Samuel Wurzelbacher’s side, as he claims You are, could You please inspire him to pick up a book and learn something about socialism? Or plumbing?

THREE: No True Hairpiece

When Donald Trump and his entourage swept into the Scottish Parliament yesterday morning, a stiff breeze barrelled down from the Edinburgh crags and threatened to lift the famously thin but coiffured locks from the American entrepreneur’s head.

As it did so, a bemused bystander remarked quietly: “Aye, now we know why he doesn’t like the wind.”

America’s bilious billionaire blowhard was at Holyrood to renew his threats to take his marbles and go home if Scotland doesn’t cancel a proposed wind farm adjacent to Trump’s Aberdeenshire golf course. Trump had planned to add a resort hotel and luxury housing to the course, which is slated to open in July, but maintains that he will cancel the expansions if the 11-turbine renewable energy project goes ahead. His testimony before the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee was, let’s say, quintessentially Trumpian:

At one point he was challenged to provide evidence that building thousands more wind farms would destroy Scottish tourism. “I am the evidence,” he bluntly retorted. “I am considered a world-class expert in tourism.”

Trump accused former First Minister Alex Salmond of misleading him during a 2007 dinner meeting in New York:

Mr Trump said the First Minister had “scoffed” at the idea the offshore wind farm would get planning approval, citing the Ministry of Defence’s concerns about its effect on radar and it blocking shipping lanes…

“So after I’ve invested this tremendous amount of money, all of a sudden this really obnoxious and ugly wind farm appears,” he said. “It’s going to look like Disneyland, except a bad version of Disneyland. I felt betrayed.”

After leaving Holyrood, Trump did what Trump does best. He strutted:

As he strolled out, smirking in pleasure and waving, anti-wind activists hailed his support and his enemies hurled abuse. Police officers rushed into the crowd and surrounded Trump in a protective cordon as the property baron tried to touch hands with admirers crushed behind a crowd barrier.

What a pity that Scotland can’t relocate the wind farm over Trump’s mouth. Renewable energy just doesn’t get more renewable than that. Continue reading Take Five (Mooks’n’Mamalukes edition)

Take Five (Miserable Bastards edition)

ONE: And your money back if the birth certificate turns out to be valid!

Last week Take Five presented “highlights” from the press conference announcing the results of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s cold case posse investigation into President Obama’s eligibility to hold the office he’s held for 38 months. A brief appearance at the press conference by Jerome Corsi puzzled me, since he added nothing material to the proceedings and actually spent most of his time talking about what a peach Andrew Breitbart was.

I’m frankly ashamed to say I completely missed the obvious. Jerome Corsi is a grifter, so what was he doing at the press conference? Why, grifting, of course. Only a tad more surprisingly, so was Mike Zullo, the posse’s lead investigator. Cinch up your hip waders! For only $9.99, you can buy the “book” the two have collaborated on:

Mike Zullo, a retired detective and volunteer Maricopa County Sheriff Posse member, is listed as the co-author of “A Question of Eligibility,” an e-book for sale on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The book is a copy of the investigation findings presented to the press on Thursday.

Zullo’s co-author is Jerome Corsi, a well-known political conspiracy writer who started the Swift-boat case against Sen. John Kerry.  More recently, Corsi, who writes for World Net Daily, has spent the last few years driving the birther movement.

Sufferin’ succotash, Arpaio must be furious! Or, um, not:

Corsi denied using the MCSO as a promotional tool to sell his books and theories…

Corsi said he informed Arpaio of his plans to sell the investigation’s findings six months ago, at the start of the investigation.

“He approved,” Corsi said, since neither he nor Zullo are paid members of the MCSO.

At least one county official isn’t so sanguine:

“I’m shocked to learn about this book,” said Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox.

Well, Ms. Wilcox, as I confessed above, I didn’t see the grifter aspect of this coming, but at least the only shock I experienced when I found out about it was in being reminded how naïve I am. Thanks for making me feel a bit better.

Here’s hoping the ongoing federal investigation of the sheriff’s misconduct in office leads to Arpaio himself no longer being a paid member of the MCSO. Now, there’s a press conference I’d love to see.

TWO: One Million Moms Circle the Drain

I also mentioned last week that I couldn’t wait to find out what One Million Moms would get all irate about next. Turns out I didn’t have to wait at all. Even as the organization (an appendage of the American Family Association) was busy calling for Toys ‘R’ Us to be boycotted for daring to sell the gay wedding edition of Life with Archie, they were also urging citizens to demand that Clorox pull its new Liquid Plumr ad.

Why would they want to do that? Over to you, Moms:

The commercial starts off with a woman in a supermarket daydreaming about what this new Liquid-Plumr product has to offer. She says, “Double impact,” twice as she reads the bottle. In her dream she is at home and answers the door to find a sexy plumber. The plumber is nice looking with huge biceps and a tight shirt. He says, “I’m here to snake your drain.” She says come on in and he walks upstairs. The doorbell rings again and it is a second sexy plumber. He says, “I’m here to flush your pipe.” She answers with an okay and while he walks on upstairs she lets out a squeal and moan while letting down her hair. Then she wakes up to reality to find the two men in the supermarket. She flirts by giving sexy eyes to the one man in the deli slicing meat and the other in produce holding two melons. These two men are the same as in her dream.

Pretty racy indeed. And there’s more:

It may be coincidence, but the man in produce is standing beside cucumbers with a price sign behind him reading 69 cents.

To summarize, an advertising agency hits on the not-at-all-novel idea to use sex (something most people enjoy) to promote a product that clears disgusting gunk out of clogged drains (something most people find revolting), and One Million Moms swoop in to spoil the fun. And rest assured they’re always soliciting new ideas for more fun to spoil:

NOTE: If you see a commercial or program which is offensive, email us the information. Many of you have done this, and it is very helpful.

THREE: Joehio

Speaking of clogged drains, Joe the Plumber (who is not a plumber and not really a Joe) finally has himself a vocation. Samuel Wurzelbacher is now the official Republican candidate in Ohio’s newly redrawn 9th Congressional District. He’ll be running, quite pointlessly, against Marcy Kaptur, who defeated Dennis Kucinich in the Democratic primary on Tuesday. That he’s headed for an electoral drubbing is almost a shame, since his winning the seat would be a vivid milestone on the drunken Republican march toward Idiocracy, although it sure as hell wouldn’t do the Ohio 9th or the United States House of Representatives any good.

“Joe” was pitted against Steve Kraus – an actual auctioneer and real estate agent, as opposed to someone who just calls himself Steve the Auctioneer and Real Estate Agent – who was significantly outspent and ultimately unable to find a sufficient number of rational Republicans in the district to stave off defeat.

So that’s one more Congressional race to watch closely. I’m hoping for a debate between Kaptur and Wurzelbacher; it would be fascinating to hear his thoughts about, for example, small business tax policy.

Apart from Wurzelbacher’s win and Kucinich’s loss, the most noteworthy Super Tuesday event in Ohio was the delightful primary defeat of Jean Schmidt, one of the nastiest human beings ever to plant buttocks on a Congressional seat. It’s an extremely overdue exit; her most storied career moment is already fading into history:

In November of 2005, she gained fame (and infamy) for her floor remarks attacking Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA), a Vietnam veteran who had recently called for an orderly U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. On the House floor, she declared in a message to Murtha, “that cowards cut and run, Marines never do.”

So it was gratifying that she lost her primary to Brad Wenstrup, an Iraq veteran. Maybe with all her new free time she can go to Afghanistan; the Marines there could use some help. Continue reading Take Five (Miserable Bastards edition)

Take Five (Careful What You Wish For edition)

ONE: The Cain Scrutiny

A funny thing keeps happening on the way to the Republican nomination. Each successive frontrunner swoons in popularity as soon as the blogosphere, joined a little belatedly by the establishment media, subject him or her to more than superficial attention.

Herman Cain, the current favorite according to some polls, is now receiving that sort of scrutiny. His acolytes would have America embrace him as refreshing, unscripted, real, genuine – you know, pretty much everything Republican candidates never are – yet the longer he stands in the spotlight the more apparent it becomes that he’s a flibbertigibbet, politically naïve and uninformed on the issues, with a weakness for some of the worst ideas his party has ever proposed, which is to say some really, really, really bad ideas.

A very partial rundown follows of some of the most bare-assed preposterous things Herman Cain has said just in the past couple of weeks. My apologies in advance.

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain argued that racism is not a professional barrier for African-Americans on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday.

His answer came in response to a question in which host Candy Crowley suggested that Cain, who grew up poor and black, had been the benefit of some luck and was superimposing his success on his entire race.

“Luck is where preparation meets opportunity,” Cain responded. “I don’t believe racism in this country holds anybody back in a big way.”

Very inspirational, Mr. Cain. A lot of minority kids will be giddy to hear that the substandard educational “preparation” they’re receiving will actually equip them well for the dizzying amount of “opportunity” awaiting them in a world where (with “luck”) they’ll get to be governed by Republicans.

And unless he’s the one playing it, Cain decries what he calls the “race card” vehemently. Here’s Cain on October 3:

Speaking outside Trump Tower today, Herman Cain dismissed the idea that he was trying to paint Rick Perry as a racist by having called Perry “insensitive” yesterday when asked about the “[N-word]head” rock on property Perry had leased.

“All I said was the mere fact that that word was there was ‘insensitive.’” Cain responded. “That’s not playing the race card. I am not attacking Gov. Perry. Some people in the media want to attack him. I’m done with that issue!”

“I really don’t care about that word,” Cain added. “They painted over it. End of story! I accept Gov. Perry’s response on that.”

Actually, what Cain had described as “insensitive” was quite clear from his original statement of the day before, which the candidate had apparently forgotten:

“My reaction is, that’s just very insensitive,” Cain told Fox. “[There] isn’t a more vile, negative word than the N-word, and for him to leave it there as long as he did, before I hear that they finally painted over it, is just plain insensitive to a lot of black people in this country.”

Wow! Cain’s even quicker on a turnaround than George Bush the Lesser, who said in December of 2001:

We’re going to get [bin Laden]. Dead or alive, it doesn’t matter to me.

But by the following March was saying this:

Well, as I say, we haven’t heard much from him… again, I don’t know where he is. I – I’ll repeat what I said.  I truly am not that concerned about him.

But Herman Cain knows when to hold ‘em, and far be it from me to tell him when to fold ‘em:

Back in July, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain told Fox News that the “race card is now a joke, because a lot of American people have figured it out.” It’s a sentiment he’s repeated frequently, arguing that Democrats cry racism to paper over President Obama’s faults.

Yet Cain frequently invokes race on the campaign trail, far more often than Obama did during his first campaign for the White House.

Cain seems downright obsessed with cards of all sorts:

He contended that those protesting against banks were merely jealous of wealthy Americans, or those with financially lucrative jobs, and lambasted them for playing the “victim card.”

“Part of it is jealousy,” he said. “I stand by that. And here’s why I don’t have a lot of patience with that. My parents, they never played the victim card. My parents never said, ‘We hope that the rich people lose something so we can get something.’ No, my dad’s idea was, ‘I want to work hard enough so I can buy a Cadillac – not take somebody else’s.’

There’ll be time enough for counting when the dealing’s done, as it were. Cain has also been busy building bridges to the gay community:

“How can you say that being gay is a choice?” the question came in from Twitter on [Lawrence] O’Donnell’s show. “Did you choose to be straight?”

Cain had just come off a bruising discussion with O’Donnell about whether he sat out of the civil rights movement while in college. So Cain’s answer was brusque.

“There will always be a difference of opinion,” he said. “Like I told Joy Behar, she has her opinion, I have my opinion. It’s a difference of opinion. Next question, please.”

On the brighter side, at least Cain didn’t accuse the questioner of playing the gay card, though I’ll bet he wanted to.

It wasn’t all straw-man politics this week, however. Cain got to talk about serious “policy” proposals, like his so-called “9-9-9 Plan”:

… which would slash taxes on the wealthy, drive up deficits to the worst point since World War II, and force low-income Americans to pay a massive nine times their current tax rate. In an interview this morning with CNN’s Candy Crowley, Cain even said food and clothing would not be exempt from the 9 percent national sales tax he would put in place if elected president. Indeed, he said it would be “fair” for a poor person to pay as much in sales taxes as Crowley does…

Presently, the bottom quintile of earners pays about 2 percent of their income in federal taxes. Under Cain’s plan, their taxes would increase all the way up to 18 percent.

Taxing poor people’s food is considered so beyond the pale that even the Tea Party group FreedomWorks assumed that the final version of Cain’s tax plan would exempt food from the sales tax.”

Michele Bachmann, another former frontrunner desperately seeking to rekindle some sparks under her campaign, smote the “9-9-9 Plan” in Tuesday night’s GOP debate:

I would have to say the 9-9-9 plan isn’t a jobs plan, it is a tax plan…  And one thing I would say is, when you take the 9-9-9 plan and you turn it upside down, I think the devil’s in the details.

Get thee behind her, Herman Cain! Continue reading Take Five (Careful What You Wish For edition)

Take Five (Various Disasters edition)

ONE: Optics… Ur Doin’ It Wrong

Shrewdly sensing that a recession-weary electorate loves nothing more than mindlessly ostentatious displays of wealth, Mitt Romney has decided to tear down his $12 million La Jolla home and replace it with a new house four times larger.

The Romneys bought the house three years ago, apparently based on Mitt’s unstoppable hankering for the sound of waves:

“I wanted to be where I could hear the waves. As a boy, we spent summers on Lake Huron and I could hear the crashing waves at night. It was one of my favorite things in the world. Being near the water and the waves was something I very badly wanted to experience again.”

Just like being a failed presidential candidate again, I guess. After his last waste of time, money and energy on a presidential run, Romney divested himself of several properties:

Romney and his wife, Ann, sold for $3.5 million the 6,500-square-foot colonial home in Belmont, Mass., where they raised their sons. They also sold a 9,500-square-foot home at the Deer Valley ski resort near Park City, Utah, for close to its $5.25 million asking price, according to a 2010 Associated Press report.

The couple still maintain a vacation home along Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, as well as a townhouse outside Boston that they consider their primary residence.

So after all that downsizing, why the sudden upsizing?

A Romney campaign official confirmed… the Romneys want to “enlarge their two-bedroom home because with five married sons and 16 grandchildren it is inadequate for their needs. Construction will not begin until the permits have been obtained and the campaign is finished.”

If only they had realized that they have five married sons and 16 grandchildren before they got rid of all that real estate, they could have saved themselves millions. Continue reading Take Five (Various Disasters edition)