Sunday, January 29, 2012

Last Call

In all seriousness, if you still actually believe that Ron Paul was somehow unaware of the awful racist things being said in his own newsletter, you deserve the grifting you get from people like him.

The Republican presidential candidate has denied writing inflammatory passages in the pamphlets from the 1990s and said recently that he did not read them at the time or for years afterward. Numerous colleagues said he does not hold racist views.

But people close to Paul’s operations said he was deeply involved in the company that produced the newsletters, Ron Paul & Associates, and closely monitored its operations, signing off on articles and speaking to staff members virtually every day.

“It was his newsletter, and it was under his name, so he always got to see the final product. . . . He would proof it,’’ said Renae Hathway, a former secretary in Paul’s company and a supporter of the Texas congressman’s.

The newsletters point to a rarely seen and somewhat opaque side of Paul, who has surprised the political community by becoming an important factor in the Republican race. The candidate, who has presented himself as a kindly doctor and political truth teller, declined in a recent debate to release his tax returns, joking that he would be “embarrassed” about his income compared with that of his richer GOP rivals.

Yet a review of his enterprises reveals a sharp-eyed businessman who for nearly two decades oversaw the company and a nonprofit foundation, intertwining them with his political career. The newsletters, which were launched in the mid-1980s and bore such names as the Ron Paul Survival Report, were produced by a company Paul dissolved in 2001.

He's a snake oil salesman just like the rest of them.  And like every other hack, huckster, cheat and thief, his message is tailored to the gullible and those who want to believe.  Whether or not Ron Paul actually believes that racist nonsense isn't the point: the point is he was willing to use it in order to reach a particular demographic of people who did, and he purposefully sought their political and financial support in order to win.

That makes him a complete scumbag in my book.  Period, point blank.  He traded on the politics of hate for years.  The 2012 race was made for him, and lo and behold, he's getting enough attention now to be considered a threat.  He's either a liar willing to push racism and bigotry as a fundraising tool, or he actually believes this foul idiocy.  I'm not sure which one is worse overall, because either way the poison he's infected this race with will ravage the body politic for a long, long time.

There is nothing that Ron Paul can possibly say that qualifies as "a good point" while he's pushing garbage like this.  And if he is saying things that you believe America needs to hear, then you had better find another messenger than this fool, because American will rightfully never take that message seriously as long as Ron Paul is the voice of that message, and with ample cause.  He's too tainted.  End of story.

Weezing The Juice

Orange Julius begins the 2012 election year hostage-taking in earnest by playing Keystone XL Or Nothing with the next round of jobs and infrastructure legislation, including the payroll tax cut that will expire next month.

House GOP leaders are preparing to release a top Boehner priority: Legislation that would generate revenue for improving the nation’s aging infrastructure through expanding domestic energy production.

“If it’s not enacted before we take up the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, it’ll be part of it,” Boehner said of the Keystone pipeline bill on ABC’s “This Week.”

Some Republicans also want the Keystone pipeline to be part of a final deal to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits. Democratic leaders oppose its inclusion, and a Boehner spokesman said that would be decided by members of the House-Senate conference committee.

On the payroll tax, Boehner said he was “confident that we’ll be able to resolve this fairly quickly.” The tax cut and unemployment benefits expire at the end of February.

The message is clear:  Boehner and his energy company cronies will get the pipeline, or middle-class America gets a spear to the guts during an election year.  Why is the Keystone XL pipeline Orange Julius's hill to die on?  Perhaps it's because the House Speaker has substantial investments in several Canadian tar sands firms that would greatly benefit from the deal, and Boehner will directly benefit from it if it's passed.  And by doing so, he may have broken SEC rules by lying about the numbers:

It is an ethics violation for elected officials to use their political office to perform official acts on behalf of special interests, and particularly when special interests are campaign donors. There is also a serious problem when a sitting congressional representative performs official acts for personal financial profit by promoting a project the representative has a financial stake in. The problem becomes egregious when the elected official lies about a project to profit himself and campaign donors and our current Speaker of the House has taken those issues a step farther. On Thursday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) received a complaint from an environmental group with accusations that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline’s owners (TransCanada) are in violation of SEC Rule 10b(5) – Employment of Manipulative and Deceptive Practices to bolster stock prices.

The complaint sent to the SEC said TransCanada is using “false or misleading statements about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline” and that they “consistently used public statements and information it knows are false in a concerted effort to secure permitting approval of Keystone XL from the U.S. government.” The complaint continues that the fallacious information misleads investors, U.S. and Canadian officials, the media, and the public “in order to bolster its balance sheets and share price,” and who is the point-man pushing the Keystone XL pipeline with lies and misinformation? Speaker of the House John Boehner.

Republicans, including Boehner, have greatly inflated the jobs numbers that the pipeline would create.  The actual number of permanent jobs created as determined by the State Department?  Twenty.  Not twenty thousand.  Twenty.  The share price of those companies went up because the Republicans made false statements, and Boehner will profit personally if the project is approved.

You don't get much more crooked than that.

And so it begins again.

GOP Gets That Poll-Asked Look Again

The latest NBC/Marist poll in Florida this weekend finds Mitt Romney up big over Newt Gingrich now, 42%-27%.  That's not the big news.  This is, buried at the ass end of the article:

Romney and rest of the candidates, however, continue to trail President Obama in Florida among all voters. Romney does best, but loses 49-41 percent, a point worse than a month ago.

As in the latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll, Gingrich fares the worst of the entire GOP field against Obama, worse even than Santorum or Paul. Obama beats Gingrich, 52-35 percent, a five-point wider advantage for Obama from December.

Obama, whose approval rating in Florida is 46 percent, has a lead over Romney, in large part, because of independents. Independents sided overwhelmingly with the president -- 50-36 percent over Romney, and by 20 points or more over Gingrich, Santorum and Paul.

And everyone on Earth should have seen this coming.  The longer and uglier the GOP primary becomes, and the further Mitt Romney has to pivot to the right during the primary season, the more independent voters he'll lose in the general. 

Another reason that POTUS is leading in Florida is Gov. Rick Scott.  Independents are utterly furious with him and that's reflected in that general independent disgust with all four GOP candidates.  The same scenario is playing out in the other two big traditional swing states, Ohio with John Kasich, and to a lesser extent, Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania.

And yes, ten months is a universe in political time, but the seeds for the GOP defeat in November are being planted now by Romney trying to out-wingnut the wingnuts.

StupidiNews! WTH Edition

This one got me.  I really thought this story was going to go in a different direction, and was so surprised that I had to sit and just think this one through.

You have a mother in Portland, Oregon.  She had a child in a carriage, and somehow a scene broke out in which kids were kicking her carriage and an eleven-year-old boy flashed a gun at her.  She froze and then backed away, and he did not draw the gun.  Her quote was a little fuzzy, and I was really prepared to hear that it was a water gun, or some Harry Potter paraphernalia.  Maybe even a cell phone.

But no.  The cops caught him with her cooperation and the boy had a loaded gun.  On a public train.  Pointed at a mother and her infant.  Another member of this gang had a BB gun.

What.  The.  Hell.

The boy faces six charges, and will be held over the weekend.  There is no statement about his parents, or information on where the gun came from.  That's upsetting on so many levels.  I'm sure more will come out, of course expect an update.

Teaching Compassion: Epic Fail

Charter schools accept public money but are not subject to all the regulations of public schools.  For example, they are allowed to enforce a dress code that is meant to ensure a clean and groomed student body, but is backfiring in this particular case.  As I go on, please know I understand the school has the right to make those decisions.  I'm pointing out why this case is important and achievable with concessions from both sides.

J.T. Gaskins is 17 years old, but he is lucky to be alive.  He has survived leukemia, and has fought cancer repeatedly for most of his life.  He has been the recipient of charities, including Make A Wish.  He has seen firsthand how much gifts and caring can change lives.  Therefore, when he found out a friend's sister has cancer he was inspired to give something of himself, literally.  Graced with beautiful brown locks, he has decided to grow his hair out and donate to Locks of Love.

Except his school has a policy about hair length, and because his is past his collar he has been suspended.

The school has the right to enforce this, but is that the right way to handle it?  This is an act of giving, and could be a great thing after parents sign a pledge that kids will donate the hair and showing proof of donation.  The reality is, Locks of Love is pretty awesome.  I am growing my hair out to do the same thing, so I admit I am biased towards the charity.  We're talking about teaching kids the gift of giving, and this is a lesson that should be encouraged.  If parents vouch for it, you have to hope they will make sure their children honor their word.

The school doesn't have to.  But they could, and in my teeny little opinion, they should.

Sex And The Cindy

It seems Cynthia Nixon has ruffled feathers by saying she chose to be gay.  I don't get the backlash.  There are many ways to be straight, there surely must be many ways to be gay.  I have known people who would easily fall into either class.  When it comes to a group so large and diverse, it's safe to say there are no blanket rules.

Nixon's reply was awesome:

"I understand that for many people it's not, but for me it's a choice, and you don't get to define my gayness for me," Nixon said while recounting some of the flak gay rights activists previously had given her for treading in similar territory. "A certain section of our community is very concerned that it not be seen as a choice, because if it's a choice, then we could opt out. I say it doesn't matter if we flew here or we swam here, it matters that we are here and we are one group and let us stop trying to make a litmus test for who is considered gay and who is not."

This doesn't make it right to claim that all gay men and women choose to be gay.  It doesn't make it right to claim that it's always genetic or physically rooted.  She rightfully gets to tell her truth and contribute towards the understanding of who she is.  This doesn't lessen the stupidity of those who think there is a "cure"or that being gay is a disease that could / should be fixed.  Stifling truth is never right, that I know.  

It's important the gay community pull together and support the larger cause.  For example, education that is honest and says that you don't have to fit a certain criteria to be considered "really" gay.  It is unfair to deny that people can choose their lifestyle, and is equally asinine to deny homosexuality may involve a genetic or physical component.  The two may coincide, where a genetic predisposition comes down to environment and choice, another version of nature vs. nurture.  What is obvious is that the squabbling isn't helping anyone, and may even be an obstacle for learning more and understanding this growing segment of our population.

The Sport Of Kings

In case you missed it (and if you were in the US, you did) Novak Djokovic just outslugged Rafael Nadal in a six hour record-setting Australian Open final.  When these two get together in a Grand Slam final, and they have now three times in a row stretching back to last year's Wimbeldon and US Open, some of the best tennis in history has been made.

Djokovic proved once again why he's the world number 1, as he's beaten Nadal now seven straight times to win a tournament final.  But this relationship has already eclipsed Courier-Sampras, Agassi-Becker and Roddick-Federer and I dare say the two of them are now well-ensconced in McEnroe-Connors territory, mainly because McEnroe and Connors played their best matches not against each other (but Bjorn Borg and Ivan Lendl, respectively.)  These two prove time and time again when they meet in a Grand Slam that magic will happen.

What really gives these two the staying power in Great Men's Tennis Rivalry History is compared to the rest of men's tennis right now, the two of them are on a level utterly dominant and by themselves.  We've come to expect Djokovic-Nadal in the finals now, and we expect Djokovic to win.  To really take this to the next level however, Rafa is going to have to get the better of the Djoker one of these days.

It'll happen one day.  But it may take until the French Open, where Nadal has been dominant on clay.  We'll see.
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