Monthly Archives: January 2012

Which Is It, NOM?

National Organization for Marriage, from its website, in support of Chik-Fil-A's opposition to same-sex marriage:

"Buy a chicken sandwich, and thank the manager for the company's support of traditional family values."

National Organization for Marriage blog, April 27, 2011

National Organization for Marriage, through its President, in opposition to Starbuck's support of same-sex marriage:

"Americans should be able to drink a peaceful cup of coffee without worrying that a portion of the company's profits is going to be used to push gay marriage without a vote from the people."

National Organization for Marriage blog, Press release, January 21, 2012

What’s Good For The Goose…

This is pretty badass and hilarious.

The Virginia legislature is trying to pass a bill that would require women to undergo an ultrasound for having an abortion. According to CBS:

The legislation would require all women seeking abortions to have an ultrasound image taken to determine the gestational age of the fetus. It says each patient must be given the opportunity to see the image or hear the fetal heartbeat, but not required to do so.

After the ultrasound, women who live less than 100 miles from the medical facility would have to wait at least 24 hours before having the abortion except in the event of a medical emergency. Women who live more than 100 miles away would have to wait only two hours.

This is a tactic of legislators who are against womens' choice.  They believe that if a woman sees an ultrasound of their fetus, they won't have an abortion.  So, they are requiring ultrasounds, whether the woman needs it or not.

Senator Janet Howell didn't think this was fair.

So, she proposed an amendment that would require men to to undergo a digital rectal exam and cardiac stress test before being treated for erectile dysfunction.

Mass Hysteria Starts With Cheerleaders

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the strange situation in upstate New York, where twelve girls in the same junior-senior high school have developed strange tics, not unlike Tourette's, and nobody knows why.

It's now 14 girls, and possibly one boy, who have developed the strange behaviors.  One of them is posting her ordeal on YouTube.  

It's still a mystery about what is going on, but Slate tells us what the diagnosis is:

A doctor treating many of the students is confident that they are suffering not from poisoning, but from mass hysteria, also called mass psychogenic illness and other variants. Typically, symptoms—which can include Brownell’s Tourette’s-like movements, along with nausea, dizziness, cramping, and more—start with one or two victims and spread when others see or hear about them. Victims are often accused of faking it, but more often they are suffering real physical symptoms that are psychological in origin. The phenomenon has been observed for centuries, with the blame shifting to whatever specific anxieties are culturally pervasive at the time. But one theme has remained consistent: The victims are overwhelmingly female.

The most famous American incident of mass hysteria remains the events surrounding the witch trials in Salem, Mass., which began when several girls began suffering mysterious fits and outbursts. 

There is one thing we know about Salem, Massachusetts — the hysteria started with the older girls and worked its way to the younger girls. 

And there is a similarity between what happened in Salem centuries ago, and what is happening in LeRoy Junior-Senior High School — the most "prominent" girls are being afflicted first.  In Salem, it was the older girls of the community.  And the first girl to show signs of "tics" was at LeRoy was a popular cheerleader.

Is it possible that girls are "copying" the popular cheerleader?  Well, not intentionally.  It is an illness, some think, but the illness is mass hysteria — otherwise known as conversion disorder. It is a neurological condition in which psychological conflict or stress is unconsciously converted into physical symptoms that can include blindness, inability to speak or numbness.

Believe it or not, what is happening in LeRoy has happened elsewhere, recently.  In 2002, ten girls in a North Carolina high school started showing tics and epilieptic-type fits.  Guess what?  Once again, a cheerleader was first to manifest the strange symptoms, and once again other girls, some of them cheerleaders, were struck with the same condition.

If the North Carolina incident is to be a guide, this means that the LeRoy students are not in great or permanent danger.  The solution in North Carolina was to separate the students and treat each one individually.  (The symptoms went away over winter break).

Apparently, the parents in upstate New York are unhappy with the "mass hysteria" diagnosis, and it indicates there is something psychological, rather than physical, going on with their daughters.  Of course, this is probably one of those illnesses which rests in that gray area where "psychological" and "physical" overlap.

But it is an interesting development.

Fun Fact Of The Day

"Add up the wealth of the last eight presidents, from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama. Then double that number. Now you're in Romney territory."

Associated Press story

It should be noted that Romney would be in the top 1% based solely on the income he receives in one week.

But I think Steve Benen is right:

The problem isn't that Romney is extremely wealthy. It's hard to imagine a significant number of voters saying, "I'm uncomfortable voting for a rich guy."

The problem is how Romney acquired his vast wealth (a vulture-capitalist firm), his frequent gaffes on the subject, and his policy agenda (which includes more tax breaks for the wealthy).

 

Details On The Rutgers University “Gay Bullying” Case

In late September 2010, many — myself included — were disturbed by the story coming out of Rutgers University regarding a gay freshman named Tyler Clementi who committed suicide (jumping off the George Washington bridge) after he learned his roommate, Dharun Ravi, had used a hidden webcam to secretly film Clementi engaging in homosexual behavior.

The New Yorker has a lengthy piece which separates the early reporting from the actual facts in the case.  Among the revelations:

* The web video was never actually broadcast, and Clementi apparently knew it wasn't broadcast.

*  Dharun Ravi, while culpable in many ways, wasn't particularly homophobic and didn't have a problem with his roommate's sexuality.

* Molly Wei, who was indicted with Ravi, had very little to do with the webcam transmission.

* There were two instances where Ravi had set up the webcam to "spy" on Clementi (occurring within two days of each other).  Clementi caught on to it after the first instance, but the people he told about it have since said that he didn't seem suicidal about it.

* Clementi was having a hard time adjusting to freshman life at Rutgers

* Clementi had "come out" to his parents only a few days earlier.  While his father took it relatively well, his mother — whom he adored — was less welcoming of the news.

* Clementi may have contemplated suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge before the events with his roommate took place.

The common belief at the time the story broke was that Ravi "bullied" his roommate to such an extent that Clementi committed suicide.  However, this seems not to be the case, and prosecutors have had a hard time making Ravi culpable for Clementi's death.  He has been charged with invasion of privacy and bias intimidation.  Bias intimidation is a sentence-booster that attaches itself to an underlying crime—usually, a violent one. Here the allegation, linked to snooping, is either that Ravi intended to harass Clementi because he was gay or that Clementi felt he’d been harassed for being gay.  

But there are very few facts to show that Ravi intended to specifically harass Clementi for his sexuality, in part because Ravi did not intend for the webcam to be discovered.  (Ravi has also been charged with witness tampering and evidence tampering, relating to his attempts after he realized that Clementi had killed himself, to delete certain tweets and to tell Molly Wei what to share with investigators).

This isn't to say that Ravi isn't guilty.  He clearly was a grade-A asshole.  But a bigot?  Probably not.  A bully?  It's questionable.  Which almost makes the suicide of Tyler Clementi more tragic, if not more mysterious.

Kudos to The New Yorker for adding facts to a matter which, like most sensationalist matters, is never as cut-and-dried or black-and-white as we think.

It’s Over For Newt

Tomorrow will make it official, but it's curtains for Newt.  Every available bit of polling data shows a strong trend in favor of Mitt Romney in the Florida. Nate Silver’s fairly conservative projections now indicate a 13-point win for Romney.

The inevitable end to Newt's campaign was also spelled out symbolically when he picked up the endorsements of Herman Cain and Sarah Palin.  ' Nuff said.

Not that he's going to go away.  No, sir.  That's not how Newt rolls.  But some aren't sure:

The most amusing meme of the weekend was the spate of stories questioning exactly how angry or crazy Newt actually is, given his predictable promise to stay in the race for months and months. I dunno: he has a long history of saying irresponsible things and then turning to the nearest observer—often one of the “liberal media” people he has just attacked—to ask how well he pulled it off. He easily could vow to plunge the Republican Party to the bottom of hell before giving up—and then the next minute endorse Mitt and head off with Callista for another Mediterranean cruise.

Obviously, the longer Newt stays in nipping at the heels of Romney, the better it is for Obama.  But I suspect this won't happen.  He's gone just after Super Tuesday, if I had to guess.

Well, that was a downer abbey. #downtonabbey

The Dowager at Daisy’s wedding – priceless. #downtonabbey

“Today he told me we could never be lovers, because that’s gone as well” – Livinia to Mary. Sex In The City 1918-style #DowntonAbbey

Take the money, Daisy!! Oh, and make William happy. #downtonabbey

“Just because a life isn’t easy, doesn’t mean it isn’t right.” #downtonabbey

Matthew looks like an extra in The Walking Dead. #downtonabbey

Well, now anything anyone can think about is Matthew’s penis. #downtonabbey

I don’t think we have to worry about Daisy quoting Shakespeare. #downtonabbey

Matthew an impotent cripple? Crawley, indeed. #downtonabbey

Glad Mrs. OBrien is on our side for a change. #downtonabbey

I liked Mrs Bates better when she sang in The Commitments. #downtonabbey

Dowager Countess goes to bat for William? I think they should do it. #downtonabbey

William being badass during wartime doesn’t work for me #downtonabbey

Come see Nekkid Feet’s 1st full length comedy improv show! 2 hours of hilarious hijinks brought to you by Winston-Salem’s premiere and, I…

The Global Warming Hoax

In last night's debate, Santorum accused both Romney and Gingrich of buying into the "global warming hoax".  It's very disturbing that a presidential candidate still cannot buy into clear scientific data.  There is room for debate about the extent of global warming, and possibly even the root cause (although that latter point is almost universally closed as well).  But to say that it doesn't exist?  Crazy.

In 1880, when modern global temperature records began, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were at 285 parts per million. In 2011, they are were over 390 parts per million. We know this.  We can measure it.  It's not hard.  It's undeniable.

As we’ve spewed greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere at at a faster pace, global temperatures have accelerated upward, particularly since the 1970′s. To illustrate this rise, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies released this fascinating video earlier this week, showing 131 years of temperature records edited into a 30-second video:

 

Now, to deny global warming, you would necessarily have to take the position that NASA is either (a) making the numbers up or (2) miscalculating the numbers.  That is, NASA is either evil or stupid.

Until global warming deniers are unequovically take one of those two positions, and prove it, they need to shut up so the grown-ups can think and discuss a policy to fix the problem.

Last Night’s Debate

I missed it, but from what I gather, Santorum was the one who actually "won" (just like last one I watched), but nobody is going to declare him the victor because he has no chance of winning the nomination.

Apparently, I understand that Romney was more agressive against Newt, and some of Newt's attacks (like his now-expected attack on the media for asking dumb questions) fell flat.  So it was a good night for Romney. This attack from Romney was both brutal and effective:

ROMNEY: I spent 25 years in business. If I had a business executive come to me and say they wanted to spend a few hundred billion dollars to put a colony on the moon, I'd say, "You're fired."

The idea that corporate America wants to go off to the moon and build a colony there, it may be a big idea, but it's not a good idea. And we have seen in politics — we've seen politicians — and Newt, you've been part of this — go from state to state and promise exactly what that state wants to hear. The Speaker comes here to Florida, wants to spend untold amount of money having a colony on the moon. I know it's very exciting on the Space Coast.

In South Carolina, it was a new interstate highway, and dredging the port in Charleston. In New Hampshire, it was burying a power line coming in from Canada and building a new VHA hospital in New Hampshire so that people don't have to go to Boston.

Look, this idea of going state to state and promising what people want to hear, promising billions, hundreds of billions of dollars to make people happy, that's what got us into the trouble we're in now. We've got to say no to this kind of spending.

Newt, as I noted, is already on the decline.  So this is playing out pretty much like I thought it would.  Romney will be the nominee. 

By the way, if you're interested at looking at the general election front, Obama wins in virtually every poll against any GOP candidate:

NATIONAL (NBC/Wall Street Journal): Obama d. Romney (49-43); Obama d. Santorum (53-38); Obama d. Gingrich (55-37); Obama d. Romney and Ron Paul (45-32-18)

NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Obama d. Romney (46-43); Obama d. Gingrich (48-41)

FLORIDA (Quinnipiac): Obama tied with Romney (45-45); Obama d. Paul (47-39); Obama d. Santorum (49-40); Obama d. Gingrich (50-39)

FLORIDA (Suffolk Univ): Romney d. Obama (47-42); Obama d. Gingrich (49-40)

MINNESOTA (PPP): Obama d. Romney (51-41); Obama d. Santorum (52-40); Obama d. Paul (51-38); Obama d. Gingrich (53-38)

That's pretty amazing considering that Obama has only just started campaigning.

 

Congrats to Heather on her “big f**kin’ pay raise!!”

“Ouch”: The Bob Dole Non-Endorsement of Newt Gingrich

I've emboldened my favorite parts.  Here it is

I have not been critical of Newt Gingrich but it is now time to take a stand before it is too late.  If Gingrich is the nominee it will have an adverse impact on Republican candidates running for county, state, and federal offices. Hardly anyone who served with Newt in Congress has endorsed him and that fact speaks for itself. He was a one-man-band who rarely took advice. It was his way or the highway.

Gingrich served as Speaker from 1995 to 1999 and had trouble within his own party. Already in 1997 a number of House members wanted to throw him out as Speaker.  But he hung on until after the 1998 elections when the writing was on the wall. His mounting ethics problems caused him to resign in early 1999. I know whereof I speak as I helped establish a line of credit of $150,000 to help Newt pay off the fine for his ethics violations. In the end, he paid the fine with money from other sources.

Gingrich had a new idea every minute and most of them were off the wall.  He loved picking a fight with Bill Clinton because he knew this would get the attention of the press. This and a myriad of other specifics helped to topple Gingrich in 1998.

In my run for the presidency in 1996 the Democrats greeted me with a number of negative TV ads and in every one of them Newt was in the ad.  He was very unpopular and I am not only certain that this did not help me, but that it also cost House seats that year. Newt would show up at the campaign headquarters with an empty ice-bucket in his hand — that was a symbol of some sort for him — and I never did know what he was doing or why he was doing it.

In my opinion if we want to avoid an Obama landslide in November, Republicans should nominate Governor Romney as our standard bearer. He has the requisite experience in the public and private sectors. He would be a president we could have confidence in.

The Election Scam That Isn’t

Republicans are concerned, or pretend to be, about voter fraud.  They want voter ID laws to prevent all this fraud.  It just so happens that voter ID laws discriminate against minorities and the poor (who tend to vote Democratic), but that's not why Republicans are doing it.  It is because of the massive voter fraud.  Massive, I tells ya!

Like what just happened in South Carolina.  The South Carolina DMV produced a list of 957 dead people who they claim managed against all odds to vote in South Carolina’s primary last weekend.  But they only turned six of those names over to the South Carolina state elections commission.  And guess what?

One allegedly dead voter on the DMV's list cast an absentee ballot before dying; another was the result of a poll worker mistakenly marking the voter as his deceased father; two were clerical errors resulting from stray marks on voter registration lists detected by a scanner; two others resulted from poll managers incorrectly marking the name of the voter in question instead of the voter above or below on the list.

So, basically, of the six dead voters they looked at, the agency found every one of them to be alive and otherwise eligible to vote, except for the one who had voted before dying.

Zombies don't vote.  The more you know….

Gingrich’s Outrage Contained Lies

We all remember it.  It was just a few days ago.  John King asked Newt Gingrich about his second wife's allegations relating to an open marriage.  Gingrich clutched his pearls and said he was shocked, shocked, that such a question would be asked in a presidential debate.  He added:

"The story was false. Every personal friend I have who knew us in that period says the story is false. We offered several of them to ABC to prove it was false. They weren't interested."

Oh, that baaaad media.  They were so biased against Newt that they wouldn't even listen to the people that Newt offered to say the story is false.

Except for one thing… it never happened.  Gingrich's campaign never offered any "friends" to ABC to say the story was false, so ABC had nothing to show disinterest about.

The Gingrich campaign just now admitted it.

Lesson of the day: if you're going to attack the credibility of the media, don't invent lies to do it.

Just saw a massive shooting star.

The SOTU

Missed the SOTU speech, but heard it was a barn-burner.  Some liberal commentators were concerned because he left nothing for the convention speech.

From what I understand, he tapped into the income inequality issue bigtime.  He didn't position himself as an anti-capitalist — he just wants to make it such that everyone pays their fair share and the burdens aren't placed on the lower and middle classes.  Six months ago, such a speech would have been used by the Republicans to paint Obama as a socialist, but now since the GOP candidates are talking about the same thing, that criticism is muted.

Also heard that he was no longer kowtow to the obsructionists in Congress, and maybe even made a veiled threat about going after insider trading by Congressman?  Cool.

Looks like Obama polled well.  I mean, really well:

According to the poll, which was conducted online by Knowledge Networks immediately after the president’s address, 91 percent of those who watched the speech approved of the proposals Mr. Obama put forth during his remarks. Only nine percent disapproved.

Did well with swing voters, too. Here's a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner focus group in Denver for Democracy Corps, which found voters who “overwhelmingly liked what they heard” last night.

Dial testing and follow-up focus groups with 50 swing voters in Denver, Colorado show that President Obama’s populist defense of the middle class and their priorities in his State of the Union scored with voters. The President generated strong responses on energy, education and foreign policy, but most important, he made impressive gains on a range of economic measures. These swing voters, even the Republicans, responded enthusiastically to his call for a “Buffet Rule” that would require the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share. As one participant put it, “I agree with his tax reform – the 1 percent should shoulder more of the burden than the other 99 percent. He [Obama] talked about being all for one, one for all – that really resonated for me.” These dial focus groups make it very clear that defending further tax cuts for those at the top of the economic spectrum puts Republicans in Congress and on the Presidential campaign trail well outside of the American mainstream.

Still lots of hard work ahead, but I still can’t believe how talented my Avenue Q castmates are.

“We must live for the few who know and appreciate us, who judge and absolve us, and for whom we have the same affection and indulgence. T…

More Conservative Values — Killing The Pets Of Liberals

This is sick:

RUSSELLVILLE—On the heels of a weekend of positive news coverage for the campaign of Democratic Congressional candidate Ken Aden, Aden’s campaign manager returned home to find his family pet slaughtered, with the word “liberal” painted on the animal’s corpse.

The Russellville Police Department is investigating, and a report will be made to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Monday morning.

Jacob Burris, who has served as Aden’s campaign manager since late October, arrived home with his family Sunday evening, and his four children discovered the gruesome scene as they exited the family vehicle to enter their home.

The family pet, an adult, mixed-breed Siamese cat, had one side of its head bashed in to the point the cat’s eyeball was barely hanging from its socket. The perpetrators scrawled “liberal” across the cat’s body and left it on the doorstep of Burris’ house.

“To kill a child’s pet is just unconscionable,” Aden said Monday morning. “As a former combat soldier, I’ve seen the best of humanity and the worst of humanity. Whoever did this is definitely part of the worst of humanity,” he said.

“It is one thing to engage in civil political discourse, and for Republicans and Democrats to disagree with each other, which is an expected part of the political process. Taking it to this level is beyond unacceptable,” Aden said.

This is Arkansas, folks.

Warrants Needed For GPS Monitoring

It's kind of tough translating a 200+ year old document like the Constitution to modern-day technology.  Conservatives would rather we don't do it at all, sticking to the letter of the document (i.e., "if the Constitution was silent about privacy, then privacy is not protected").

But once in a while, the Supreme Court gets it right:

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday the authorities need a probable-cause warrant from a judge to affix a GPS device to a vehicle and monitor its every move.

The decision (.pdf) in what is arguably the biggest Fourth Amendment case in the computer age, rejected the Obama administration’s position. The government had told the high court that it could affix GPS devices on the vehicles of all members of the Supreme Court, without a warrant.

“We hold that the government’s installation of a GPS device on a target’s vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constitutes a ‘search,’” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote.

In  a footnote, Scalia added that, “Whatever new methods of investigation may be devised, our task, at a minimum, is to decide whether the action in question would have constituted a ‘search’ within the original meaning of the Fourth Amendment. Where, as here, the government obtains information by physically intruding on a constitutionally protected area, such a search has undoubtedly occurred.”

In all, five justices said physically attaching the GPS device to the underside of a car amounted to trespassing and was a search requiring a warrant. The majority said “the present case does not require us to answer” whether police may employ GPS monitoring of a vehicle via an already onboard navigation system “without an accompanying trespass.”

Four justices, however, said the prolonged GPS surveillance in this case — a month — amounted to a search requiring a warrant. But the minority opinion was silent on whether GPS monitoring for shorter periods would require a warrant.

Full opinion (PDF) here.

UPDATE:  Some law geekiness is required here.  

The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches without a warrant.  The exact holding of the case above is being wildly misreported.  The majority does not say that attaching a GPS device to the underside of a car is an unreasonable search, only that it is a "search" for Fourth Amendment purposes.  Specifically, five justices — Scalia, Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas, and Sotomayor — said the device constituted a search of private property. Four justices — Alito, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan — focused on reasonable expectations of privacy.

Strange goings-on with Sotomayor and Alito being in the places you wouldn't expect them to be.

Tennessee Tea Party Wants To Whitewash History

At a press conference, two dozen Tea Party activists presented their proposals — I’m sorry, their “demands” — for the new state legislative session. Among them are sweeping changes to school materials. Like this:

The material calls for lawmakers to amend state laws governing school curriculums, and for textbook selection criteria to say that “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.”

Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds, the group’s lead spokesman during the news conference, said the group wants to address “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.”

Um…. okay.  But the founders DID, uh, "intrude" on the Indians (to say the least), and they DID own slaves, while at the same time signing (or writing) documents that "all men are created equal".  

Who Would Obama Rather Run Against: Newt or Mitt?

Answer: Mitt

First of all, Romney is a weak campaigner, as evidenced by his inability these past several months to "close the deal" with Republican voters.  Rhetorically, Obama can run rings around Mitt.

Secondly, Obama (and I mean, campaign-mode Obama) can still inspire, whereas Mitt cannot, even among his most ardent supporters.

Thirdly, there is a populist movement — which crosses party — lines relating to income inequality.  The Romney camp is already being beaten up about this, and their defense — "hey, don't punish success" — isn't going to fly.  Why not?  It's easily rebuttable.  Being successful in a capitalist system is fine, but being successful at the expense of the middle and lower classes?  Not so much. 

Fourthly, Romney can easily be painted as the class of person that was responsible for getting us into this financial mess in the first place.

Fifthly, Romney cannot go after Obama with any credibility regarding "Obamacare", since much of it is patterned after Romney's own plan.

Sixthly, although parties generally unify around their final candidate, the conservative base may not flock to Romney as much as he would hope.  They might sit out this election.

Seventhly, Romney can't connect to immigrants and minorities (Newt has better outreach because of his immigration policy).

Eighthly, Romney, unlike Newt, will not try to win votes by tapping into the racial divide.

Unless I'm wrong about this… in which case…

Answer: Newt

First of all, Newt's strongest appeal is with the conservative base.  His policies and his attitude may fire up that base, but he will have a much harder time reaching moderates, independents, and swing voters.  And (they say) elections are won or lost on the moderate, independent, and swing voters.

Secondly, Newt cannot reasonably call himself a leader, nor a Washington outsider.  As Speaker, he was ousted from the leadership.  And he has spent the last 14 years as a K Street lobbyist.

Thirdly, unlike with Romney, Obama can draw a deeper contrast between himself and Newt (and vice versa).  There is less chance that one will draw from the other's potential votes than in an Obama-Romney contest.

Fourthly, although he is a good debater, Newt has a propensity to shoot himself in the foot with his grandiosity.

Fifthly, Newt doesn't have the money or organization behind him.  While this might be seen as a virtue, it makes him more likely to make strategic errors.

Sixthly, there is a LOT of usable footage of Newt saying things that he totally disavows now (like how he was once in favor of an individual mandate).

Seventhly, Newt has a +34 unfavorable rating with the American public. The latest PPP poll shows that 60% of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Gingrich, compared to only 26% who like him. Ouch. Mitt Romney's, meanwhile, is only +18 unfavorable

********************

And there it is.  My analysis.  What's THE answer?

Beats the hell out of me.

Money isn’t the root of all evil. The root of all evil is a Thomas-O’Brian cigarette break. #downtonabbey

Downton Abbey just became a musical.

Rooting for Arsenal.

Last Night’s Debate

First of all, Santorum won.  The media is saying this morning that Gingrich won it in the first five minutes, but he didn't.  Santorum won, and I'll explain why shortly.  But let's talk about Newt's first five minutes.

Yesterday, there was breaking news about Newt's second wife, who told ABC that Newt, in the midst of his affair with the woman who would later become his third wife, asked to have an "open marriage".  So naturally, the CNN debate moderator, John King, asked Newt the question: Is it true?

Newt knew he was going to get the question.  Everyone knew he was going to get the question.  And he had response planned: "How DARE you ask that?  This is a PRESIDENTIAL debate!  The media is degrading and disgusting and I am disgusted at blah blah blah".  That's a paraphrase, but it not only got loud applause, but it got a standing ovation.

Of course it did.  Bashing and blaming the media is standard GOP fare.  Newt's response was predictable, and it would have been the same no matter when he was asked the question during the debate.  ("How DARE you ask me that question at the beginning of/in the middle of/at the end of this debate!!!")

Newt would like to pretend that personal failings have no place in politics, although he has run, and continues to run, on the sanctity of marriage and family values platform.  In fact, back when this conversation took place between Newt and Wife No. 2, Newt was leading the charge against Clinton in the Lewinsky affair.

Of course, any thinking person watching the debate was probably asking where was Gingrich condemning the "despicable" media when news organizations obsessed over Anthony Weiner's personal life? How about Eliot Spitzer? Or John Edwards?

More to the point, when Gingrich was helping lead an impeachment crusade against President Bill Clinton, and the media's obsession with a sex scandal was boundless, did Gingrich whine, "I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country"? If he did, I missed it.

Still, it was a legitimate and expected question, and Newt feigned outrage.  He complimented John King afterward and was perfectly cordial — yes, kids, the outrage at the question was all for show.

But Gingrich was far worse in other areas last night.  He just couldn't help acting like a pompous pious blowhard.  When all the candidates were asked "if you could undo ONE thing from this campain, what would it be", Newt's answser was basically, "At the beginning of the campaign, I shouldn't have listened to those advisors who were trying to get me to cover up my natural awesomeness."

He then closed with ridiculous hyperbole (but again, red meat for the masses): "Obama is the most dangerous thing ever".  Apparently, more dangerous than Hitler and al Qaeda.

Santorum won the debate for three reasons:

(1)  His ability to distinguish himself from Romney.  This part was pretty easy — Romney clearly is no conservative.

(2)  His ability to distinguish himself from Gingrich.  Here, Santorum deftly pointed out that Gingrich's "grandiosity" is somewhat unstable, that Gingrich's self-assurance is the kind of thing that can get him (and the country) into trouble, that Gingrich is a bit of a loose cannon.  It was a brilliant criticism, especially since we were all witnessing that in Gingrich right on stage.

(3)  His "everyman" demeanor.  The most telling part of the debate came when the group was discussing the release of tax returns.  Gingrich's people released his tax returns as the debate started.  Romney tried to joke and cajole about when his people would release his tax returns (nobody laughed), but said he didn't want to be exposed so early.  And Santorum?  He didn't talk about "his people" or "his accountants" or strategy… he simply said "I did my taxes myself.  They're at home on my computer.  When I get home, I'll get them off my computer and release them."  It was a perfect answer which made him seem like a real person, rather than a guy suirrounded by accountants and strategists.

So, that was the debate.  I was surprised by Santorum, but I don't know if his performance was enough to change anything.  He's not going to beat Newt in South Carolina, but maybe he will draw more votes from Newt than I previously thought, which will allow Romney to win.

Time will tell.

Oh, and Ron Paul took part in the debate too.

Best musical performance last night though went to Obama:

 

FURTHER THOUGHTS:  I should have mentioned what was (for me) the funniest line.  It came from Mitt Romney….

"[W]e need to send to Washington someone who has not lived in Washington, but someone who's lived in the real streets of America…. We need to have someone outside Washington go to Washington." [emphasis added]

Seriously? Romney has lived in "the real streets"?  Does any of his homes have streets?

Pictured:  Romney's $10 million summer home in Wolfeboro NH

 

If I was a conservative, I would be impressed with Santorum tonight. Humble, cogent — a nice contrast to the self-impressed bombastic G…

It’s kind of hot when a woman plays the ukulele well. Unless she’s wearing a grass skirt and/or has fruit in her hair. Then it’s kind o…

Newt’s “Dirty Secret”

As mentioned below, GOP candidate Newt Gingrich's ex-wife (Marianne Gingrich) has given an interview to ABC news in which (she has alleged) will totally sing Gingrich's campaign.

Oooooh.  Just what "goods" does she have on Newt?

Apparently, he wanted to have an "open marriage" — i.e., have his wife (Marianne) and his mistress (Calista, to whom Newt is now married).  Marianne said "no".

My thoughts?  Of course it's ookey.  Of course it's going to get Newt in hot water with the "family values" people.  But I remain steadfast: what the hell does this have to do with Newt's ability to run (or in his case, ruin) a country?

Presidents are political leaders, not moral leaders.  You want a moral leader, there's a good one in the Bible.  Has the initials J.C.  I'm definitely no fan of Gingrich, but I don't think his moral failings — and WE ALL have moral failings — should preclude him from the presidency.

And here's my prediction — this attack on Gingrich will actually backfire.  He might even get some sympathy.

And to be honest, it's not even new.  We knew this about Newt already, right?

Off the soapbox.

Not. Buying. It.

Captain Francesco Schettino's reason for leaving the capsized cruise ship Costa Concordia while most of its passengers were still struggling to get off?

"I tripped".

Whew!  Good thing there was a lifeboat underneath him to catch his fall!

Wahlberg Thinks He’s Badass, But He’s Actually A Knob

"If I was on that plane with my kids, it wouldn't have went down like it did. There would have been a lot of blood in that first-class cabin and then me saying, 'OK, we're going to land somewhere safely, don't worry.'"

Mark Wahlberg, on the 9/11 hijacked flights, during an interview for Men's Journal.

Listen Mark.  When people get out of their seats and start murdering members of the crew, it wouldn’t have been particularly surprising if people were shocked enough not to react until it was too late. And as it turns out, they weren’t. The passengers on United 93, including a judo expert and a rugby player fought back against the men who hijacked their flight. As it turns out, people with weapons who are determined to die are decent at thwarting the people fighting back against them who want to live. The hijacker at the controls of the plane dipped and rolled to thwart the passengers’ efforts. And he crashed it before they could get to the cockpit.

This is just profoundly disrespectful to everyone who died on planes on September 11, whether they fought back or not. It shows no understanding of their ordeal, or their courage.

Perry’s Out & Other Tidbits

According to sources….

… oh, and rather than losing to Romney by 8 votes in Iowa, Rick Santorum actually won there by 34 votes 

… oh, and Marianne Gingritch, who once boasted that she could end her ex-husband's campaign with a single interview, has sat down for a two-hour interview with ABC… to be aired Monday (after South Carolina).  I don't know how much stock I would put in to an interview by a disgruntled ex-wife, but I'll keep an open mind….

… oh, and the jobless claims hit a 4-year low, which means that Obama wins the election.

Stupid Moviegoers Demand Money Back Upon Discoverin “The Artist” Is A Silent Movie

Philistines

The tribute to 1920s Hollywood, the black and white movie has already won three Golden Globe awards for its dazzling portrayal of the pre-talkie era.

But audiences at some Odeon Cinemas are unimpressed by the homage to the "Golden Age" of silent films and a smaller-than-usual screen.

Film-fan Nicola Shearer, 25, attended a screening at Odeon Liverpool One after a wave of complaints. She was asked by cinema staff if she knew "it is a silent film".

English graduate Nicola, from Liverpool, said: "Of course I knew it was and I asked the usher why she wanted to know.

"She then told me some people complained and asked for refunds because there is no sound and the screen is smaller."I thought it was really funny and laughed."

The film was purposely reduced to a smaller screen size to give it an authentic look of original silent films which were hugely popular from the late 19th century to the early 30s.

Surely I’m not the only person who adds a packet of Swiss Miss to their morning coffee. #strangelooksinthebreakroom

Why yes. Downton Abbey IS like “Fiddler on the Roof”. Lord Grantham and his three daughters = Tevye and his three daughters.