Sunday, December 11, 2011

Last Call

Rick Perry wants you to know that voters aren't looking for a President that can name all nine Supreme Court justices, they want a President with a big hat who punches bears.

And yes, Rick Perry is hoping to increase his share of the Republican primary vote by proclaiming his ignorance. More than anyone else in the race, he knows his audience.

Dear America:

"You know, Americans used to trust the federal government before we had a black President."

     --Washington Examiner Editorial Board

Bonus verbatim stupid:  "Obama gave a bitterly partisan address in Kansas, which featured, as The Washington Examiner's Michael Barone pointed out, a crude, straw-man caricature meant to portray Republicans falsely as believing "we are better off when everybody is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules."

More Running The Numbers

The latest NBC/Marist polls for Florida and South Carolina show a big lead for Newt Gingrich over Mitt Romney, 15 points in the Sunshine State, 19 points in the Palmetto State.

That's not the shocking part.  This is, buried in paragraphs 20-23 at the tail end of the MSNBC FIrst Read article (but on page 2 on each poll's full results, pretty much right up top.)

Turning to the general election, President Obama’s standing has improved in Florida, always a key presidential battleground state.

Forty-six percent of registered voters in the state approve of his job, which is up five points since October.

In hypothetical match-ups, the president leads Romney by seven points (48 to 41 percent) and Gingrich by 12 points (51 to 39 percent).

In South Carolina -- a reliable Republican state in presidential contests -- Obama’s approval rating stands at 44 percent, and he holds narrow leads over Romney (45 to 42 percent) and Gingrich (46 to 42 percent).

Yeah, see, President Obama leading in South Carolina over both these chuckleheads should be a big, fat story.  But no, it's all about Newt's double digit lead.

Funny how that works.

StupidiNews! Celebrity Roundup

Move over, Angelina Jolie: Jennifer Aniston just beat you on the list of 100 Hottest Women of All Time.

The Friends star was voted No. 1 on the recent poll, topping a list that includes Raquel Welch (No. 2), Marilyn Monroe (No. 3), Britney Spears (No. 4) and Madonna (No. 5). Jolie came in 10th place, following Pamela Anderson (No. 8) and Jane Fonda (No. 9).

Aniston is rightfully on the list. Number one? I know she would be in the top five, but if I had to pick one single woman it would be Elizabeth Taylor. I would also have to put Lena Horne and Vivien Leigh on there.

Hulk Hogan is suing his former wife for defamation of character.  She has written a book that claims he was abusive and paints a picture of domestic violence and control issues.  She even alleges he had "homosexual encounters" and was mentally abusive as well.  They're all crazy as hell, but I gotta rule in his favor on this one.  She took 70% of their assets, she has been so crazy that her kids have asked her for space, and she spent millions of his money while complaining about how his work kept him away.

And finally, we have some good news!  TMZ reports that Ice Cube is going to bring back the original Friday cast, including Chris Tucker, for a sequel.  The sequels were okay, but here's hoping a reunion can capture the magic of the original.  If they can get Mike Epps back as well there's a chance this could be the best one of all.

Mindy McCready Drama Winds Down

If you read enough news, you learn to spot the stories that will twist and turn, and go a thousand different directions.  This was one of those, and so I held off saying anything about country singer Mindy McCready going on the run with her son.  The story played out until they were found in a closet in Arkansas.

The child's father has a checkered past, including attempted murder after escalations with McCready.  Still, he comes out of this sounding like the responsible one in an article in People.  He says McCready needs a healthy relationship with her son, and that being hidden in a closet and taken away by men was a nightmare for the boy.

But why did she run with him in the first place?  There seems to be a little going on there.  She claims that her mother is abusive, and her  mother denies it.  The conundrum is that whether McCready is nuts or her mother is abusive, they would look the same from the outside.  Still, an abusive mother would explain some of McCready's own instability and make some of this story make more sense.

If they find out she isn't abusive and this was all a trip on Mindy's part, someone needs to rescue that little boy.  Even if only part of this story is true, that little fellow needs the best help he can get.

The Big GOP Debate Thread

So this morning the pundits are trying to figure out who was hurt more by their own words, Romney's $10,000 bet crack to Perry, or Newt's full-throated endorsement of child labor to fix the economy.

The answer is "neither, because Republican voters realize both of these piss liberals off, so it's okay."

Know your audience, people.  BooMan explains why this won't hurt Romney:

People aren't going to vote for Romney because they want to have a beer with him. He doesn't drink beer. They won't vote for him because he's the most conservative or principled candidate. He is probably the biggest flip-flopped in the history of electoral politics. They'll vote for him for the same reason that Donald Trump was briefly at the top of the polls. They'll vote for him because he's the kind of guy who can light his fondue with c-notes and not even flinch. He's filthy rich, and that's why people are attracted to him.

We're talking about the Republican base here. Their heroes are all CEO's. They reflexively defend bankers against accountability and corporations against regulations. When John McCain couldn't remember how many houses he owned, they thought he was cool. When Bush said his base was the have-mores, they convinced themselves that they would one day be part of Bush's base.

It didn't hurt Romney that he bet $10,000 in the debate last night. It was an applause line

The same goes for Newt's love of child labor.  That applause line got actual applause, because the notion of having poor minority kids clean out toilets and otherwise do as much menial labor as possible really, really appeals on a basic level to the kind of people suddenly terrified by the prospect of what happens to them in an America where the population can vote one of those people in as President.

So no, neither one will be hurt in the primaries.

Supreme Suppression

A case just as potentially important as the health care reform's individual mandate provision will now go before the Supreme Court in January:  the question of Texas's congressional redistricting.

The Supreme Court Friday night blocked a redistricting plan for Texas drawn by a panel of federal judges, putting the justices in the middle of a partisan battle over how the state’s electoral maps should change to recognize the state’s burgeoning minority population.

Texas had objected to the judicially drawn maps, which analysts said would increase chances for Democrats and minorities, and favored maps drawn by the Republican-dominated legislature. Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) requested the Supreme Court’s intervention; the justices will hear arguments Jan. 9.

Candidates already have begun to register to run under the districts drawn by the panel of federal judges in San Antonio, and it appears likely the state’s March primaries now will be delayed.
The plans drawn by the legislature do not have the approval needed by several southern states, including Texas, that are covered by a part of the Voting Rights Act that requires federal “pre-clearance” of any electoral changes that could affect minority political power.

A federal court in Washington, meanwhile, has denied Texas’ initial request for approval, and will hold a trial on claims that the legislature’s plan dilutes minority political power. The Supreme Court’s brief order did not appear to affect that review.

Earlier, the panel of federal judges was charged with drawing new maps so that Texas elections could proceed on time. The qualifying period has already begun.

And now we have a problem.  The conservative Roberts Court, for all its talk on leaving individual state issues to states, has stepped in on a case that may end up determining if the Democrats can win enough seats to take back the House, or if millions of Texas Latinos have a chance at fair representation at all.

The original Texas redistricting plan was drawn up by the Republicans in the state legislature.  It was a disaster, a plan that failed to pass Justice Department muster so badly that the panel of federal judges were required by law to create a non-partisan redistricting plan.

Now the Roberts Court has stepped in.  Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog (emphasis mine):

Stay applications such as the ones that put these cases before the Court are usually only for temporary remedies, and, most often, seek simply to maintain the status quo while the underlying decision at issue is reviewed.   The Court, this time, converted the applications into what it calls “jurisdictional statements,” which is the label it uses for cases that are appealed directly to the Justices from a three-judge District Court.   Federal law provides that challenges to redistricting cases are to be heard initially by three-judge District Courts, with direct appeals to the Supreme Court, bypassing the usual transit through a federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

By granting review, the Court, of course, gave no indication of how it would rule on the constitutionality of the District Court’s interim plans.   But the Court appeared to have taken seriously and heard perhaps somewhat sympathetically the Texas lawyers’ argument that a 1982 Supreme Court precedent — Upham, et al., v. Seamon, et al. — strictly limits the power of a federal court to craft its own interim redistricting plan that deviates greatly from one drafted by a state legislature.   In the San Antonio District Court, the dissenting judge in the 2-1 rulings at issue had argued that the Upham decision barred a court-ordered map that strayed so far from what the state legislature had drawn.

Because the three cases reached the Justices as stay applications, they did not spell out specifically the legal or constitutional questions being laid before the Court.  But it does appear, at least at this stage, that the Court will only be ruling on the validity of the San Antonio court’s decision to draw up interim maps of its own.  No lower court has yet ruled on the underlying question of whether any of the districts — for the legislature or for the House delegation — actually violate federal law or the Constitution.

It's those precedents that Texas Republicans are hoping to use in order to get their own plan through, and as many as 4 or 5 Democratic seats could be at stake here.  That's certainly enough to make a difference in who controls the House after November's elections.  At stake is who has the authority here, the states to draw their own redistricting, or the federal government, since these are congressional districts that can potentially affect the makeup and political power of the Congress itself.

In addition to that, the entire primary process in Texas is now a huge question mark.  SCOTUS won't even hear the case for another month, and Texas primaries are in March.  Those primaries aren't going to happen on time now.

Judicial activism?  Possibly.  But for such an important event, SCOTUS kicks down the door and then says "We'll hear this in a month"?  Really?

That's just bad form.
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