Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Last Call

Mitt Romney knows that there's only a short step for Republican primary voters between calling for the deportation of President Obama's uncle to calling for the deportation of President Obama, and that's exactly why he's opening his mouth on this birther surrogacy issue.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Wednesday joined Reps. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Steve King in making political hay out of the August arrest of President Barack Obama’s uncle on DUI charges.

Romney — who’s been getting hammered by Democrats over his “for Pete’s sake” response to a previous question on immigration — didn’t seem to know what Boston radio host Howie Carr was talking about when he brought up Onyango Obama’s arrest during an interview, ABC reports. “Who is Uncle Omar, Howie?” Romney asked.

Once Howie explained, Romney said “the answer is ‘yes.’”

“Well, if the laws of the United States say he should be deported, and I presume they do, then of course we should follow those laws,” Romney said, according to ABC. “And the answer is ‘yes.’”

He presumes of course, but it's not like he knows.  Nice one, Mitt.  Meanwhile, he keeps having to spend all his time bowing and begging to the nutjobs on the right who would basically deport everyone darker than Taylor Swift if they had their way.

Mitt Romney's a hack.

Worst Kasich Scenario, Part 2

Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich is bound and determined to drive his approval numbers down into the dirt, it seems.  This week, he's given Ohio women a lovely holiday gift: banning Ohio's state insurance exchange from offering any plans that cover abortion.

House Bill 79, which would prohibit insurance plans participating in a yet-to-be created state health exchange or marketplace from providing abortion coverage, was among 13 bills Kasich signed this morning. They were passed last week during the legislature’s final session days of 2011.

“Ohio is witnessing historic gains in legislation that protects mothers and saves unborn babies," said Mike Gonidakis, executive director for Ohio Right to Life.

The new federal health-care law requires states to have an exchange in place by 2014 to give consumers and small businesses a place to shop and compare policies. Gonidakis said the federal health-care law allows states to opt out of abortion coverage. 

Ahh, but there's a catch: the ACLU is eager to challenge the law, based on Issue 3 that passed in the state last month:

But the ACLU of Ohio has said the constitutional amendment that Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved last month was a message in opposition to the mandated insurance provisions of the federal health-care law and can now be used to block measures to restrict abortion access.

Issue 3 says that no state law shall "prohibit the purchase or sale of health care or health insurance" or "impose a penalty for the sale or purchase or health care or insurance.

In other words, the same legal mumbo-jumbo that Kasich and the GOP used to "eliminate" the individual insurance mandate is now the same legislation that the ACLU will use to fight this anti-abortion measure.

And make no mistake, this is a bill that will eliminate insurance providers from covering abortions, making them all but unaffordable to women.  That's the point...and there's probably going to be a number of court battles in states over this as well as a Supreme Court fight eventually.

Let's keep in mind the GOP plan is to have as many blatantly unconstitutional bans on abortion as possible to make it de facto unavailable for any woman.  After all, court battles can take far longer than pregnancies.

So women of Ohio, what do you plan to do about the Republicans in November?

Buckeye Black Eye

And the NCAA dropped the hammer yesterday on The Ohio State University's football program, in a pretty meaningful way, hitting the Buckeyes with a postseason ban for next year plus scholarship reductions and a big fine.

Several players, including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, allegedly swapped team and personal memorabilia and equipment for tattoos and other benefits. Tressel became aware of the transactions, which violate NCAA rules, but did not report them on a form that all coaches are required to submit.

"Of great concern to the committee was the fact that the former head coach became aware of these violations and decided not to report the violations to institutional officials, the big Ten Conference or the NCAA," the NCAA Division 1 Committee on Infractions said in its report.

Tressel received a five-year show-cause order that limits his athletic-related duties and applies to any NCAA school that may want to hire him.

In addition to the postseason ban, the NCAA imposed penalties of additional scholarship reductions, three years' probation, and the forfeiture of almost $340,000 and all of Ohio State's victories for the 2010 season.

No bowl games or Big Ten title game for the Scarlet and Grey next season, and frankly I thought Tressel got off light.  The fact of the matter is major infractions seem to keep happening because for now, the risk of getting caught pales in comparison to the reward from winning at all costs.  Sadly, as anyone can tell you who has been paying attention to either politics or finance in the last 10 years, that's exactly the life lesson you need to be teaching people these days, apparently.

The Dumbest Pizza-Related Story You Will Ever Read. Ever.

SMYRNA, Tenn. - For the rest of the semester, a Rutherford County elementary student has to eat lunch at the "silent table" for allegedly waving around a slice of pizza some say resembled a gun.

Nicholas Taylor attends David Youree Elementary School in Smyrna, about 30 miles southeast of Nashville.

School leaders say the 10-year-old threatened other students at his lunch table with a piece of pizza with bites out of it so it looked like a gun and when asked about it was initially not truthful.

Nicholas' mother LeAnn calls her son's punishment "absolutely ridiculous" saying he was just playing around and never said anything derogatory or anything about shooting anyone.

"The kid across the table from him said it looked like a gun so he picked it up and started started shooting it in the air," she told Nashville's News 2 Investigates.

The school says they are just using an abundance of caution.  Abundance, my ass.  This is stupid.  What in the hell is "silent lunch" and why is a little boy punished for doing something totally normal for his age and stage of development?  Boys play.  You can't threaten someone's life a piece of pizza, no matter how hard you try (I may or may not have tried that once).  There seemed to be no attempt to explain to him why he might not want to do that, but the mother says they made it clear they would suspend him if there was a second episode.

I'm not done with this.  I'm just taking a break to gather my thoughts on so many problems in the article I linked to.  I'll start with an upcoming bit on silent lunches, something I had never heard of until this came up.  The preliminary searches aren't kind, but if this is really what it seems I'll have a lot to say about this.  I will then likely finish with yet another rant about zero tolerance stupidity.

Pizza.  Gun hand.  Ten-year-old boy.  Silent lunch.  Load of crap.

Bag of Bones Disappointing (Spoiler Alert)

I hate the "Stephen King movies suck" bandwagon, but I'm afraid they may have a genuine point here.  Bag of Bones fell flat.  It wasn't all their fault, though.  It's hard to translate a book that took place in a man's head and turn into a four hour movie.  To my surprise, Pierce Brosnan did okay as Mike Noonan.  He was a bit too smooth,  but handled the scenes pretty well.  The only real casting error was Ki, who was about twice as old as she should have been.  She went from a toddler in the book to at least seven or eight in the movie, and still acted like a toddler.  No bueno, though the little actress did a phenomenal job of holding "terror face" for a long time and keeping it genuine.

The heavy-handed plot changes took their toll, that's all.  I can't see why they made Noonan a stranger to the land, it made little sense.  He would have had knowledge of these people, he would have had friends and family friends at Dark Score Lake, which is how it was originally written.  This was nothing but a ploy to have some discovery dialogues and it failed miserably.  Some of the best scenes were lost because of this.  His argument with Bill, his uneasy relationship with the townsfolk, etc.  Some of the other plot changes were just damn stupid.  Making Lance try to kill his daughter?  Having him shot to death in front of her?  Conveniently never really talking about it after that came out?  Did these guys even read the book?

I knew there would have to be some muttering to himself segues and I accepted it, but they still went overboard.  In this world, he didn't know Bill at all.  So why would he tell him something so intimate as "when we got frisky on this couch she would say we were ringing Bunter's bell?"  That's not the sort of thing two men share, especially not old Maine farts full of Yankee pride.  And Jellison's where he got an unexplained updated on what had happened on the TR for the last several years was unbelievable.  They were cheap tools used to scar a masterpiece.  It also barely touched on the most terrifying part of the story, the collective "village" mentality that allowed all of this to happen in the first place.  I can think of several ways they could have included that in the story but decided to avoid it at all costs.

The end was unforgivably lame.  The epic battle between Sara and Jo, not even mentioned.  The owls never came into play.  The amazing moment of understanding, when he realized his dead wife had been talking to him all along in their own language, we were robbed of it.  Realizing he was the character from his nightmare was one of the most powerful moments of a book that was full of them.  Not even mentioned.  He poured some dust and the war was won.  I'm sorry guys, but you could have done better even with your limited ability to tell the story.  "Mattie had come to her daughter one last time, dressed in the lake, to tell her goodbye" was reduced to "ghost in bathtub whispers something."  Inexcusable.  Not since The Shining have they failed so badly at bringing a beautifully crafted finale to life.

Having gotten all of that off my chest, the sets were perfect.  Whoever took his descriptions of the buildings and the grounds did a perfect job.  From Jellison's cafe to the color of the ribbon on Bunter's bell, it was dead on.  I can't think of a thing that could have been better.  Even though her taste in art never came up, the paintings in Mattie's house were exactly as described, and told a bit about good taste and a K-Mart budget.  It's too bad that amount of detail couldn't have been put in other places as well.

My other hope is that this doesn't derail any efforts on the Dark Tower movies.  Unlike these books, that is the one time he told a story that would translate over to film beautifully.  For once he let situation and environment move the story instead of deeply private character knowledge.  Don't get me wrong, I love getting into his character's heads and learning their secrets but Roland is a shallow man, his single-mindedness is his super power.  Everyone around him is the real story, and it can be done. I will hold out just a little bit of hope just in case.

Like A Blimp, He's Full Of Hot Air

Ron Paul has decided that the only reason anyone's calling him a racist is that his "policies are winning".  Silly me, and here I thought it was because he was actually a man with a long an obnoxious history of racism.

You refer to disturbances in Washington’s Adams Morgan [neighborhood] as ‘animals taking over the D.C. Zoo,’ referring to African Americans,” Velshi noted. “You said that Martin Luther King seduced underage girls and boys. You talked about Ronald Reagan proclaiming ‘annual hate whitey day’ with Martin Luther King Day. And you advocated prohibiting AIDS patients from eating in restaurants. These things were published under your name.

“Yeah, but I didn’t write them and I disavow them,” Paul insisted.

“But you’re a presidential candidate. That’s tough,” Velshi observed. “It kind of comes back to bite you that you made money off of things that were published under your name that were hateful and racist.”

“Yeah,” Paul agreed. “But this has been addressed for 20 years and nobody accuses me of that type of belief or language. I’m a true civil libertarian, and I think people dig these up when people think that ‘Oh, his economic policies are winning. His foreign policies are winning. His monetary policies are winning.’ So, they have to dig these things up that they really can’t pin on me.”

“But I didn’t write them and those aren’t my beliefs. So, I sleep well,” he added.

“Are you comfortable in telling us who did write them?” Velshi asked.

“I really don’t know,” Paul explained. “Twenty years ago, I had six or eight people helping me with the letter, and I was practicing medicine to tell you the truth. And so, I really do not know.”

“Well, we could find out?” Velshi pressed. “Because you had six or eight people? Like, it was one of those six or eight people?”

“Well, possibly I could,” Paul admitted. “These charges are a total contradiction of everything I’ve said and everything I believe.”

That's quite the copout there.  "It wasn't me writing that racist stuff in my own newsletter with my name on it!"  In all honesty, if Ron Paul can't exercise better judgment in the people working for him than this, how is he supposed to run cabinet departments as Chief Executive of the United States?

Oh wait, he wants to basically eliminate nearly all cabinet departments. Probably because apparently he can't keep racists out of them and writing policy papers in his name.  Seriously, either Paul is a racist himself, or tolerates a long history of having people write horrifically racists things in his publication.  I would argue the latter is worse, unless somebody from the Paul camp wants to explain to me how Ron Paul never read his own newsletter for several years.

It would be one thing if it was an isolated case and Paul immediately fired the individual responsible, printed an apology, and fixed the problem.  He didn't.  It happened time and time again, as Ali Velshi pointed out in that CNN interview above.  Multiple instances, over a long period of time. As recently as May, Paul was saying how America would have been better off without the Civil Rights Act.

What America would be better of without is Ron Friggin' Paul.  Well, unless he runs as a third party libertarian candidate and assures an Obama win.

Can't Quit Hitting The Sauce

The mighty Tea Party has feet of clay, and nobody's more clay-colored than Orange Julius as the House GOP picks up their payroll tax cut and unemployment benefit extensions ball and goes home for the holidays.

The Tea Party drinks your smoothie, John. They drink it up.

Obama insisted today that the only path to continuing the tax break past its Dec. 31 expiration is for the House of Representatives to send him a two-month extension passed by the Senate. At the White House today, he blamed a “faction” of Republicans for blocking the bill by including extraneous issues.

Meanwhile, Boehner and the Republican-controlled House pressed ahead with their plan. The House voted 229-193 to reject the Senate bill and insist on a year-long extension of the tax cut. Boehner, an Ohio Republican, then chose eight House Republican negotiators and demanded the Senate name lawmakers to attend formal talks.

“There’s no reason we can’t do this,” Boehner said at a news conference.

Actually there is, Johnny. And it's called "You have no control over your caucus anymore." They're over you. You're irrelevant, you can't deliver a deal, you have no clout on the Hill, and you're a joke.

In other words, you're everything in the actual leadership failure category that you choose to constantly project on to President Obama. Tell you what, call up Nancy Pelosi and ask her how to do your job, because in about 13 months, she will be doing your job.

So now, in just over a week, 160 million Americans are going to take a hit in their paychecks because John Boehner is the most incompetent person in Washington. And that's a government that includes Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul.

Brian Beutler pieces together the implosion of Boenher's career here, because let's face it, after this, it's over.

(Pic courtesy of Magic Love Hose over at Matt Osborne's place, original drawing of Boehner here...and speaking of Matt, give to his year-end donation drive and Fill The Inkwell, will you?)


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