Saturday, February 25, 2012

Last Call

Rick Santorum has figured out how to win the nomination.  Go as far to the right as possible, because 40-42% of America will vote for you no matter how much of a crazy, misogynist, homophobic bigot of a god-botherer you are.

The former senator was notably more energized here than he was in going through a litany of rehashed policy proposals to a modest crowd last night at an event his campaign billed as a major speech.

Asked why he was so tough on Romney, Santorum told reporters after his address: "Fight fire with fire."

Before a middle-class crowd, Santorum also amped up his populist message.

He noted his Italian immigrant lineage, joking that his ancestors didn't drop any vowels at the end of his name

And he took a tough shot at President Obama's declaration that he'd like all Americans to attend college.

"What a snob," Santorum, an attorney, said to loud applause, warning of teens being indoctrinated "by some liberal college professor."

There was also an unmistakable shot at Newt Gingrich.

"The only person I sit next to on a couch is my wife, period," Santorum said, a reference to Gingrich's climate change ad with Nancy Pelosi.

When your party is full of paranoid caricatures and cartoon villainy, you run as a sneering, neurotic mustache-twirling heavy.  You forgo the dog whistles and the coded language, and come out and say the President is an elitist snob for the view that everyone deserves a shot at college.  Everyone knows somebody who not only doesn't deserve a shot at college, but probably doesn't deserve a shot at being outside of prison.

And Ricky's brand of apocalyptic fatalism goes right to the heart of the Republican message:  those who are with us will share the spoils, those who are against us will share the wrath.  For all of his talk that America is the bestest most super-awesome country ever in all of space-time, Ricky's message is "It's time to admit our vision of America is screwed with all these gay, brown, elitists and jettison the dead weight and start over."

They no longer want to be part of an America where a black man can be President.  They're taking their ball and going home.  But they'll loot the treasury on the way out and take all the good silver.  The red state/blue state dichotomy ain't too different from the Blue and the Gray 150 years ago, to hear Ricky tell it.

And should he be the nominee, he'll get 60 million votes. Minimum.  Just like McCain/Palin.

Never forget that.

Iran, So Far Away, Part 12

The redemption of Rick Santorum as Serious Foreign Policy Thinker(tm) comes courtesy of Michael Ledeen in the WSJ.

After leaving the Senate in 2007, Mr. Santorum wrote about foreign policy frequently for the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he was a fellow until June of 2011. In essays written for the center, he acknowledges that terrorists are indeed inspired by radical Islam—but he wants to work with Muslims who do not wage jihad, subjugate women or oppress minorities. He's specific about the radicals: They are evil men who have perverted the meaning of "martyrdom," changing it from the act of dying for one's faith to killing others to advance the dominion of one's faith.

His opposition to tyranny abroad has been a constant in his political career. Even in the final days of his losing 2006 re-election campaign, Mr. Santorum never stopped calling for action against Iran and Syria. Apparently, Pennsylvanians weren't impressed by his Iran Freedom and Support Act, enacted in 2006, which imposed sanctions on the regime and authorized $100 million annually for the democratic opposition, or his 2003 Syria Accountability Act.

But today he looks prescient and gutsy. Back then, the Bush administration was trying to run away from such ideas. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at one point turned to a Democrat, then-Sen. Joe Biden, to block Mr. Santorum's Iran bill, before it finally passed. But Mr. Santorum's basic vision has prevailed.

And so it goes.  Clearly the Murdoch machine is hedging their bets when it comes to the very real possibility that the man who will carry the GOP's standard into battle against President Obama is going to be a know-nothing fundamentalist dipstick.  So like Bush 43 before him, the same "scholars" who told us that it didn't really matter that the Republican candidate is a moron because he would be surrounded by a brain trust of great minds led by the necessary vision and will to "win" are hard at work constructing the exact same fantasy with Iran as their target.

Ledeen and his crew of bloodthirsty ghouls have been after "regime change" in Iran now for over a decade.  To see him latch his lamprey maw onto Santorum's back to try to ride him into a war with Tehran should be setting off alarm bells in the head of every American old enough to vote.  They want war, and Rick Santorum is the best way to get it.  Ledeen allowed out of his crypt to try to sell Santorum as Commander-in-Chief means that not only is the GOP establishment making plans for Santorum vs Obama in the fall, but that when it comes to all the truly important boxes to be checked, that Ricky will do for them just fine.

The GOP establishment will prevent Santorum from winning over Romney?  Really?  At best they are hedging pretty damn hard, and at worst they are sabotaging the increasingly failtastic Mittens to get the man they wanted all along.  If "probability of deciding to go to war with Iran" is your top criteria for picking a GOP nominee, then Santorum's the clear choice.  If Murdoch and the neo-cons are backing him, the notion that Santorum will crash and burn long before Tampa is no longer so assured, is it?

Misogyny: Also Bigger In Texas

Texas Republicans have decided that if they can't ban Planned Parenthood in the state, they'll simply get rid of all the women's programs that Planned Parenthood helps to fund and provide.

If there was any hope that the state was seeking a compromise with the federal government over Texas’ Women’s Health Program, it’s fading fast. At the direction of lawmakers and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Texas Health and Human Services commissioner signed a rule on Thursday that formally bans Planned Parenthood clinics and other "affiliates of abortion providers" from participating in the program — something the Obama administration has said is a deal-breaker for the nearly $40 million-per-year state-federal Medicaid program.

"The Obama administration is trying to force Texas to violate our own state laws or they will end a program that provides preventative health care to more than 100,000 Texas women," said Allison Castle, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry. "This boils down to the rule of law — which the state of Texas respects and the Obama administration does not.

The rule, signed by Commissioner Tom Suehs on Thursday, takes effect March 14. Unless some last-minute agreement is brokered, the program, which receives $9 in federal funds for every $1 in state funds, will be either phased out or cut off by the end of March. At least 130,000 poor Texas women will lose access to cancer screenings, well-woman exams and contraception.

The goal of course was to end these programs all along.  This is why Republicans are fighting the contraception and Title X wars all over again, this is why they are suing the Obama administration over contraception rules, this is why they scream TENTH AMENDMENT and STATE'S RIGHTS and FEDERAL TYRANNY over this.  They don't want to help poor people.  They want them gone.

If red states make being poor, female, LGBT, and/or a racial minority so awful, and the legislative and social climate so hostile that people just leave the state, then the red states win.  That's what they've wanted all along.  They become some other state's problem.  It worked for the Jim Crow era.  It worked for Reconstruction era, it worked for the Civil Rights era, it's working again now.

Make it so awful not to be a white, Christian, straight male that everyone else says "screw it" and goes away.  And the more than do, the more political power these folks obtain in the state to turn the screws on the remainder.  Texas and Florida now have Republican super-majorities at the state level.  There's nothing Dems can really do at this point except wait for demographics.  Dick moves like this preempt that.  The Texas GOP now has enough power to basically end Medicaid in the state for poor women.  They want even more power.

They'll get it, too.

Show me Stupidity

Enough already.  They act like it's the employers who are being mistreated here.

After President Obama offered a compromise to his birth control coverage rule, which would allow faith-based organizations to opt out of covering the cost of contraception for employees and have a third-party insurer cover it instead, a number of congressional Republicans continued to insist that any employer, regardless of religious affiliation, should be able to decline to cover contraception.

Next week, the Senate is expected to debate Sen. Roy Blunt's (R-Mo.) amendment to the Transportation Authorization Bill, which takes that point of view a step further by allowing any employer to refuse to insure contraception or any other health service for any moral reason. The amendment has sent Senate Democrats into a tailspin because it would water down or nullify many of the landmark reforms they voted in with the Affordable Care Act.

"Here's the issue," Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the sponsor of the transportation bill, told reporters on Friday. "Our families deserve health care. They deserve access to insurance that covers health care. The Blunt Amendment is very clear: for any reason, an employer can deny a host of services from contraception, to breast cancer screening, to autism screening, to depression screening, to osteoporosis screening, to STD screening. And that is a sad day when one political party feels that it helps the American people to take away their access to health care."

Virginia woke up. Women are getting pissed, and rightfully so. The stupidity has just about reached its upswing, and when it all comes crashing down this will amount to political suicide. Don't think for a second I will miss a chance to throw this back in his face.

What an asshole. He is the perfect example of serving his ideas instead of the people. If enough women get out there and vote, we can teach them a lesson.

Meanwhile, he can enjoy health coverage that addresses his every need. I ashamed to be from the state, even though I couldn't disagree with him more.

Saturday Morning Stupidity

I hate to say "every week" or "every whatever" because then there is a pressure applied.  I'm going to start Saturdays off happy, though.  I'd like to say video, because I enjoy a nice clip from time to time, but then what if there's not a good video that week?  I hate to paint myself into a corner, but I can promise happy whether it's a video, cute cat,  or whatever fun I've stumbled across.  We have a lot of stupidity and ugliness in the news to wade through, so we earn a little giggle now and then.

This week, I have Bobby McFerrin demonstrating the pentatonic scale.  McFerrin is probably best known for "Don't Worry, Be Happy" but was actually raised around classical music.

This is one of the things I dig about music so much.  You don't have to know the science and rules of music to appreciate it.  As a race, a species, we understand a universal language.  McFerrin says everywhere he goes, every audience is on board.  Every time.  It reminds me of the awe that makes me play, that feeling you get when the notes are just right and it rings every nerve in your body.  That we know those rules without knowing them but can still have our own personal taste is just another reason why music can be as powerful as it is entertaining.


Meanwhile In Afghanistan

The Afghan Taliban is claiming responsibility today for the deaths of a US colonel and major shot and killed inside the Interior Ministry in Kabul today.

At least two American officers were killed inside the interior ministry in Kabul, a senior Afghan police official said Saturday.

According to the International Security Assistance Force, initial reports indicated that "an individual" turned his weapon against NATO service members.

The agency did not provide the nationalities of the victims, but the Afghan police official confirmed they were American.

The Tabilan is saying that the attack was in retaliation for the burnings of Qurans earlier in the week.  And yes, we're still over there.  And yes, people are still dying.

StupidiNews! Zombie Edition

David Morrissey will be playing The Governor on The Walking Dead.  You can click this link to read the article, but major spoiler alert has been given.  If you don't read it, the broad strokes are that he is a major character and will be a villain.  One look at his character and you know that, already.  Walking Dead has annoyed some viewers, but I remain optimistic.  A certain amount of stage setting has to take place, but they had better deliver some action soon.

Zombie Con 2012 is accepting registrations.  It's strictly first come first serve, and is guaranteed to be the best miserable time you can have.  It's hotter than hell, with some hard walking and unfriendly living conditions.  But then there's also a float trip, nightly zombie movie fest, and knowing you have participated in something so awesomely geeky as Zombie Con.  I'm trying to talk the husband into it now, by the way.

Last but not least, Amazon sells zombie apocalypse survival gear  products.  I'm not even kidding, check it out.  I have to say, there's a couple of things that will end up on my birthday wish list!
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