Saturday, January 7, 2012

Newt's "Shop of Horrors"

In a New York Times online piece, Timothy Egan, explains Newt's relationship to SuperPacs and to the Citizens United case that unleashed unlimited corporate campaign spending.

Not only did Newt tutor his colleagues in the House in negative campaign tactics, he was a big supporter of the Citizens United case, calling it "one of the best examples of a genuine strategy that I’ve seen in the years I’ve been in Washington,” and producing a video saying, "Please join Citizens United and me in our fight for the First Amendment rights of every American.”

Now the chickens have come home to roost; the shop of horrors has turned on it's creator. Newt got shellacked by SuperPacs in Iowa. Of course, I contend that the effect of all those negative ads was more devastating to Newt because it was all true.

But now Newt is playing the outraged victim to the hilt -- and he still doesn't seem to understand that he played any part in bringing it about. Narcissists never do. It's always the world that is out of step with them.

Egan ends with this memorable line, referring to the legacy of unlimited corporate campaign money unleashed by the Citizens United decision:
"Among the losers, Gingrich has the least credibility complaining of the effects. What happened to him in Iowa is not what he wished for, but it is certainly what he asked for."
Hear, hear !!


Friday, January 6, 2012

NACP responds to Newt's insult

A few days ago, Newt made one of his smarty-pants, misinformed, insulting comments, meant to tout his credentials as a job-creating, entitlement-deploring conservative. He said he would be willing to go before an NAACP audience and tell them
"[T]he African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps."
The NAACP has issued a response:
“It is a shame that the former Speaker feels that these types of inaccurate, divisive statements are in any way helpful to our country. The majority of people using food stamps are not African-American, and most people using food stamps have a job. . .

“We invited Speaker Gingrich to attend our annual convention several times when he was Speaker of the House, but he declined to join us. If he is invited again, I hope that he would come, with the intention to unite rather than divide.

“Gingrich's statement is problematic on several fronts, most importantly because he gets his facts wrong."
Point. Set. And Match. Good for the NAACP for taking the high road. Let Newt wallow alone in the mud of his own swill.


Beware of such friends . . .

It's well known here on ShrinkRap that I passionately dislike Newt Gingrich. The same went for John McCain in the last election, despite my limited admiration for him in years past. But something happened to him when Dubya slaughtered him in the 2000 S. C. primary with really really negative, untrue ads.

But he never recovered his balance, and he became an often incoherent, seemingly dishonest politician.

Romney seemed to think McCain's endorsement would be a good thing. But within one week of McCain's publicly giving that nod of approval, he has made two damaging gaffes. Perhaps they should take him off the campaign trail before he does some lasting damage.

A couple of days ago, McCain proclaimed his confidence that "President Obama" would turn the economy around -- then had to be corrected and lamely said, "Excuse me, President Romney."

Now this slipped out today at another rally in S. C.: "Earmarks are a gateway to corruption, and I can tell you that neither Mitt Romney nor Rick Santorum share that view."

Oops again. That's two strike, Old Man McNothing. Get the hook and pull him off stage.

On second thought, let him continue. Anything that diminishes Romney's ultimate standing is to Obama's advantage.


NOT about politics . . .

It just don't seem right.

Elizabeth Taylor's multiple husbands, most notably Richard Burton, showered her with fabulous jewels -- huge diamonds, emeralds, etc. -- in elaborate settings of rings and necklaces. Only a fabled beauty with Liz's style and grace could wear such huge, expensive baubles without looking cheapened by the excessive bling. She could pull it off and look fabulous, even as an old lady in a wheelchair.

Now that the jewels have been auctioned off by her estate, mere mortals are scarfing them up and wearing them -- and looking cheap in the process. It seems sacrilegious somehow.

Jill Zarin (never heard of her) of "Real Housewives of New York" was seen wearing one of Liz's rings. And the ubiquitous, manipulative, offensively shallow Kim Kardashian now owns another. Ughhh. Cheap. Tacky.

Elizabeth Taylor's style is not transferable with the price of a ring, even you pay millions for it.

She lived large and had her flaws, for sure. But she was real and had a heart of gold (an early friend of gay rights and major force in HIV research fund-raising) and was loyal to her friends (Rock Hudson, Montgomery Cliff, Michael Jackson).

For me, she will forever be the darling pre-teen of the 1944 "National Velvet" and the charming teen of the 1949 "Little Women;" the stunningly beautiful young lady of the 1951 "A Place in the Sun;" and the shrewish broad of the 1966 "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

These cheap publicity hounds have no right to wear her jewels. That's what I think.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Odds and ends you may/may not have heard

1. A vote counter in Iowa says a clerical error gave Romney 20 votes too many. So Rick Santorum actually won the Iowa caucuses. State Republican officials have not yet ruled on this.

2. Newt Gingrich says he's willing to stand up before an NAACP audience and tell them that "the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps." Paychecks from whom, Newt? Just demanding them doesn't solve the jobless problem.

3. Jon Hunstman won the endorsement of the Boston Globe for the Republican nomination. This is the major newspaper not only in Massachusetts but in New Hampshire as well. That's pretty significant, given that Romney is the former governor of MA, and Huntsman the former governor of Utah. The Globe's editorial said that Hunstman would be the better president; but, even if Romney wins, Hunstman's competition will make Romney a better candidate.

4. Analysis by the Tax Policy Group in Washington says that Mitt Romney's tax plan would increase taxes on low income families by 60%, while giving middle income families a slight tax cut and those with million dollar incomes a 15% tax cut. Further, it would add to the deficit. The Tax Policy Group is regularly asked to testify on their research before Congressional hearings on tax policy.

5. Speaking at a rally after endorsing Mitt Romney, Sen. John McCain said: "I am confident, with the leadership and the backing of the American people, President Obama will turn this country around." Oops. He quickly corrected himself, saying, "Excuse me, President Romney."

6. Joseph Kennedy III has formed an exploratory committee with the idea of running for the seat in Congress that Barney Frank is vacating. When Patrick Kennedy retired from his congressional seat in 2008, it was the first time in 64 years that there was no Kennedy in Congress.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

It's going to be a fierce fight . . . and expensive

Round One is done. Whew !! Glad it's over, but NH, SC, and FL come fast and furious.

The bottom line is that Romney won by 8 votes, but he still got less than 25% of the vote (24.6%). He was followed by Santorum, also 24.6%, Paul 21.5%, Gingrich 13.3%, Peery 10.3%, and Bachmann 5.0%.

Here's the perspective, as framed in an email sent out from Jim Messina, Obama's campaign manager, this morning:
Who exactly leads the Republican race going forward isn't clear, but we do know two things:

1) The extremist Tea Party agenda won a clear victory. No matter who the Republicans nominate, we'll be running against someone who has embraced that agenda in order to win -- vowing to let Wall Street write its own rules, end Medicare as we know it, roll back gay rights, leave the troops in Iraq indefinitely, restrict a woman's right to choose, and gut Social Security to pay for more tax cuts for millionaires and corporations.

2) We'll be facing an onslaught of unprecedented spending from outside groups funded by corporations and anonymous donors. In Iowa alone, so-called "super PACs" spent $12.9 million on almost exclusively negative ads. These groups will turn their fire even more directly on us in the weeks ahead to prove that their candidate is the most anti-Obama.
Interestingly, this letter to Obama supporters did not ask for money. It was a call to volunteer to work on the campaign, saying we have to "out-organize them on the ground."

The race is on !! Re-read Messina's paragraph #1 above. Those dire prospects are real. We can't led this crowd take over our country.


And some people actually believe him . . .

Televangelist Pat Robertson says that God has told him who the next president of the United States is going to be . . . but he's not supposed to tell us.

He also says that God told him that the nation's downfall would be triggered by an economic collapse and that this would come about if Obama is elected to another term.

So, let's see if I have this straight: We will have economic collapse if Obama is re-elected. So people need to "pray overwhelmingly," presumably to keep Obama from winning. But Robertson already knows who will win. So what is the purpose of all this prayer, if it's already decided?

I don't get it. Why does anyone believe this man? What has he ever been right about?

Years ago, he said God was punishing Orlando with the forest fires that were headed straight for it. Why? Because the city had flown banners for Gay Day at Disneyland. But then the fires turned and went the other way and skipped Orlando. And later that same year, hurricanes hit Virginia Beach where Robertson's headquarters is located.

Has the IRS investigated him? He is demonstrably campaigning against Obama -- manipulating the emotions of ignorant and gullible people who believe his version of God, while raking in tax exempt money as a religion. That is illegal.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Thanks to blogger Ryan Grim on Huffington Post, here's a little fact to put the whole Iowa caucus thing in perspective. They carry far more weight in the media frenzy than seems warranted from the numbers.

Expected turnout tonight for the Republican caucuses: 115,000.

Attendance at a single University of Michigan football game: 114,804.

The Associated Press reported that $13 million has been spent on political TV ads. That comes to $113 per vote. And that doesn't even count all the other expenses of running a campaign.


Who sank Newt's boat?

Pundits and media articles are blaming the negative ads for Newt's plunge in the Iowa polls. One source said that half of all the ads run in Iowa since December 1 were negative ads about Newt.

I'll grant that this was an unprecedented amount of TV attacks on Newt. But let's don't lose sight of the other fact, as said by one of the pundits on Sunday talk shows (I forget which):
Everything they said about Newt is true.
That is what distinguishes them from the usual attack ads, such as the lies told about John Kerry by the Swiftboat crowd. And like they're all saying about Obama.

You don't have to make stuff up about Newt. In fact, some of what he has said would be rejected as too extreme if you submitted it as a made-up story about him.

I stick by my earlier claim that Newt will defeat Newt.

He said as much himself -- although in his typical style, it was a bit grandiose. In an interview with Matt Bai in Sunday's New York Times Magazine, he said:
"I only exist because the country is in trouble. . . . The question is whether I can in fact help the country work its way out of trouble. If we had 4 percent unemployment and no foreign threat, I couldn't be a candidate. It would be absurd. There are 20 guys you could pick in peaceful, calm and pleasant times who would be adequate as president, none of whom would have my liabilities."
In other words, our country is in peril; and only Newt can save us, so we have to just overlook all his flaws and failings. And Matt Bai added:
"It was an unusual admission from a presidential candidate near the top of the national polls, but it was a candid assessment from a man who thinks of himself in the mold of Churchill or Reagan. The way Newt sees it, fate doesn't hinge on his being a perfect man. Only a great one."
And what if he isn't a great man?


Monday, January 2, 2012

Last minute poll in Iowa

Public Policy Polling has released its latest automated poll taken over the past two days, and it confirms that Rick Santorum is indeed having the last minute surge he predicted.

There is a virtual 3 way tie: Paul 20%, Romney 19%, Santorum 18% -- all within the margin of error. Trailing are: Gingrinch 14%, Perry 10%, Bachmann 8%.

Nate Silver's polling analysis is similar: Paul 21.6%, Romney, 21.3%, Santorum 19.5%.

InTrade shows who people are betting will win: Romney 44%, Paul, 27.5%, Santorum 26.0% -- and Gingrich a mere 1.5%.

Santorum clearly has the momentum of the moment. But will it last longer than the moment of Iowa? He has little chance in New Hampshire and is going on to South Carolina, where he hopes to repeat his Iowa surge. The difference, of course, is that his Iowa surge came too late for negative ads against him there; but you can bet they'll be out in force in S.C.

And then: Bye, bye, Rickie. And good riddance. Take your promise to "annual gay marriages" and shove it.


Last minute over-reaching in Iowa

I considered taking a vow of silence for these last 24 hours before the Iowa caucuses, knowing that everyone will be saying simply outrageous things -- trying for a few more votes.

Sorry, but I just can't stifle it -- even knowing that in the long run, what happens in Iowa is not really of such great importance as we make it to be. As Matthew Dowd said on TV yesterday, Iowa may not elect winners, but it does tend to eliminate losers. Here then are their final attempts to grab the attention of voters:

1. Rick Santorum flashed his commander-in-chief cojones by declaring that he would order the bombing of Iranian nuclear facilities if we get evidence they are making a bomb.

2. Ron Paul said the Civil Rights Act "undermined the concept of liberty" and "destroyed the principle of private property and private choices."

3. Mitt Romney did the unforgivable and used the "K" word when he said ". . . the gap between [Obama's] promises and his performance is the largest I’ve seen, well, since the Kardashian wedding and the promise of til death do we part." Arrrrggggghhhh !!!

4. Michele Bachmann claims to be "the new Margaret Thatcher . . . the American Iron Lady."

5. Rick Perry continues his pattern of unintentional outrageous comments. In describing the rough ride he's had these past few months, he referred to the "bumps and grinds" of the campaign -- and then repeated that "most campaigns have bumps and grinds."

Hmmm. What strip joints have you been hanging out at, Rick? "Bumps and grinds" -- is so old fashioned, isn't it? I thought pole dancing was the thing now.

6. The last thing I expected Newt to do was break down and cry. That's what he did, talking about his mother's mental decline and death. Well, tears worked for Hillary in New Hampshire, didn't they?

There you have it. It has been fascinating as political theater. It beats being obsessed with that family of K-people.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

What does it mean to lose a day?

I was really worried about the poor people of Samoa, who went to bed Thursday night, December 29th and woke up on Saturday morning, December 31st. They just skipped Friday the 30th.

Not some science fiction plot but a rational decision based on Samoans' desire to be on the same calendar page as their trading parners in nearby New Zealand and Australia. So everyone agreed simply to move the date line so that Samoa was on the good morning side along with its neighbors, making it the first to welcome in 2012 instead of the last to bid farewell to 2011.

But what happens when you eliminate a day? Are you two days older instead of one? And what about wages for working people? Do they lose a day's pay? Does the government lose a day's worth of taxes?

Not to worry, really. The earth just keeps spinning on its axis, making sunrise and sunset without any concern for man's arbitrary beginning and ending of days. The cows don't care. Sea birds fly back and forth across the date line all the time without worrying.

But what of my more philosophical questions about being a day older or younger? It's the same as contemplating whether you get older or younger if you travel around the world in this direction or that one. Granted, Samoa didn't move, just the arbitrary date line. But we measure all kinds of actuarial data based on calendar day counts.

Actually there are no worries about this one either. It seems that 2012 is a leap year. February will have an extra day -- so it all balances out.

, it doesn't really. Because everybody worldwide will get the extra day. So, relatively, we're back to square one about the age of someone living in Samoa when they eliminated a day.

Trivia? Yes, but at least it changes the subject from what's happening in Iowa.


Molly Ivins: "Please pay attention . . . "

I leave it to Texans themselves to write Rick Perry's political obit.

Here, from an article in the Texas Tribune:
It’s been a long 12 months for Rick Perry. . .

He ends the year treading water. . . . Even if he pulls out of this, it’s been embarrassing for him and for his home state.

He took the family name out into the world and made a hash of it. Texas was still recovering, in some quarters, from George W. Bush's presidency . . .

Perry made a spectacle of himself in the debates, is spending millions in an effort to stay out of last place in Iowa and apparently wasn’t organized enough to get on the ballot in Virginia. . . .

If only my favorite Texan, the indominable Molly Ivins, were still here to verbally slay him as she did her former high school classmate, Dubya.

I heard her give the keynote speech for the annual ACLU dinner soon after he was (s)elected by the Supreme Court. She took the podium, surveyed the audience with mock seriousness, then reared back and declared: "My fellow Civil Libertarians. We are in deep shit."

And that was just the beginning. Of course she was right: the Bush tax cuts, two wars, Dick Cheney, torture, Abu Graib, two more conservative Supreme Court appointments, politicization of the Justice Department, economic collapse, and the assault on civil liberties in the name of "fighting terrorism." With Perry, we would only get more of the same . . . and worse.

Sadly, Molly Ivins died from breast cancer, so we'll have to make do with one of her choice observations from a couple of years into the Bush reign.

"People, when I tell you that someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please pay attention."

Maybe this time, we are listening, Molly. . . .You'd have to be near stone deaf not to pay attention to the utter disaster Rick Perry is on the national stage, let alone giving him the power of the Oval Office.

He makes Bush look pretty good -- as do all the clowns on the GOP stage right now. Which is a measure of how low the expectations for a Republican candidate have sunk.



Well, that's that. It feels like 2011 was a pretty bad year.

There were a few good things. Osama bin Laden is gone. The Arab Spring uprisings have brought major changes. The Occupy Wall Street 99% movement. It's only a beginning -- but a very important beginning.

We got rid of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The Obama administration is no longer defending DOMA and will support positive legislation on marriage equality. Same-sex marriage became legal in New York -- and California awaits the court decision on ruling Prop8 unconstitutional.

And all of our troops are out of Iraq.

Voting starts in 2 days in Iowa. It looks like Romney is going to quickly capture the nomination. Then maybe all the craziness will quiet down as others drop out. Is it too much to hope that we could have a serious debate on the differing views between the two parties of the role of government? Perhaps some sanity and respect for science and reason could return to our public discourse.

Let's hope for better days ahead.