Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Last Call

So Mittens had the Florida primary sewn up by 8 PM apparently, and now we have a month with no debates and several smaller caucuses up until Arizona and Michigan at the end of the month, and Super Tuesday on March 6th.

I don't see the Non-Romneys going too much further past Super Tuesday, frankly.  Shame too.  I was really hoping for an ugly primary season.

Now it's still possible that it could go on.  Newt especially has a lot of ego and could get the fundraising once Santorum leaves...but I doubt it.  Mitt just has too much money and he sent a clear message that he has the juice to swamp anyone who goes up against him in the primary.

On the other hand, it's looking like Romney can't top 50% even when he's basically running unopposed.  Santorum and Paul left the state days ago, and Mitt outspent Newt by more than 6 to 1.  Mitt still couldn't crack 50%.

He should get used to that 47% number in Florida, I think.

Mitch Turtles Up, Part 2

My own Senator, Mitch The Turtle McConnell apparently has some sort of mild dementia or something, because he just can't remember his own massive obstruction of any of President Obama's agenda over the last three years.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has embraced the argument that President Obama was able to pass every bit of his legislative agenda in his first two years thanks to large Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. It’s intended as a counterpoint to the President’s re-election strategy of attacking the congressional GOP as do-nothing obstructionists. But it’s also a revisionist history of the 111th Congress, during which McConnell more than any other Republican in Washington stood athwart Obama’s agenda to great effect.

The White House has “been trying to pretend like the President just showed up yesterday, just got sworn in and started fresh,” McConnell declared Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “In fact, he’s been in office for three years. He got everything he wanted from a completely compliant Congress for two of those three years… We are living in the Obama economy.”

This isn’t a new claim for McConnell, but it’s audacious even by Washington’s lax standards. It was McConnell, after all, who led Senate Republicans in serial filibusters — a record-setting numbersuccessfully thwarting large chunks of Obama’s agenda.

Mitch pretending like Republicans had nothing to do with Congress for the last three years is insulting and stupid.  Senate Republicans filibustered the DREAM Act, the American Jobs Act, The Paycheck Fairness Act, climate change legislation, immigration reform legislation, they blocked the President's appointments to the bench and to cabinet positions, and they stripped provisions from the stimulus, the budget appropriation bills, held the country hostage over payroll taxes, unemployment benefit extensions and the debt ceiling.  Multiple times.

But President Obama "got everything he wanted"?  Really?  That's ridiculous on a number of levels...just like McConnell is.  McConnell owns a big chunk of Congress's 9% approval rating, and he knows it.

Underpants Gnomes

Remember when Democratic party operatives made up crazy British news stories about Laura Bush, Barbara Bush, and Nancy Reagan buying 50 grand in lingerie?  No?  I guess for some reason that sort of thing only happens when Republicans warm up the Pretty Hate Machine for Michelle Obama.

Several funny “news” outlets published claims that our fancypants Michelle Obama spent what we guess is about $50,000 on actual fancy pants.
Michelle Obama is reportedly sexing up the White House after blowing £32,000 on saucy underwear.
America’s First Lady splashed the cash in ONE DAY during a shopping spree in New York’s Agent Provocateur store.
She bought posh pants and a £900 corset while out with the Queen of Qatar, Sheikha Mozah.
We can just imagine all the fun they must have had in the dressing room, giggling about cosmopolitans and Sharia law! The White House is rejecting the story, but it would make for an excellent plot line in an eventual FLOTUS comic series, in which she would most likely be dressed in lingerie (and a cape) and fighting off Rush Limbaugh with her magic garden shears. [The Mirror]

It really does get terribly old.  But she's fair game, of course.  Why, First Ladies have always been fair game, right?

Local Stupidity: Drinking Game Fail

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — A Joplin man who was accused of challenging his 11-year-old nephew to a drinking game has pleaded guilty in the boy’s alcohol-poisoning death.

Twenty-nine-year-old Dale Phillips had been scheduled for trial next month on charges of second-degree murder and endangering the welfare of a child. KOAM-TV reports (http://bit.ly/xwUzb8 ) that Phillips pleaded guilty to those charges Monday.

Phillips’ nephew, Tyler Fecko, was found dead in July 2009 at his uncle’s apartment, where the boy had been staying. Authorities said the boy died after taking part in a drinking game with Phillips and his girlfriend.
This stupid crap happens everywhere.  Adults are no smarter than kids.  You can lay out the rules, explain why it's a bad idea, and you will still have some freaking idiot who has no better judgment than this.  That little boy (wrongly) assumed this man wouldn't let any harm come to him, and he died an ugly death at age eleven.  Eleven.

Santorum Fails Simple Ethics And Vocabulary Test

Rick Santorum is saying medical malpractice payouts should be capped at $250,000.  He says anything more "unnecessarily" drives up health care costs.  There's just one problem: he testified on behalf of his wife when she tried to sue for $500,000.  For whose who can't do math any better than he can, that's twice what he thinks our pain and suffering is worth.

Then taking a routine fail to epic levels, he than argues that his wife didn't sue for pain and suffering, which is what he wants to cap.  Well um, not quite.  The judge in their case called the $350,000 payout the eventually got excessive, and in fact it was for pain and suffering.  Santorum calls it "emotional and physical toll" instead of pain and suffering, because he can't add any better than he can utilize a thesaurus.

And in a final death rattle of stupidity, he says there is no conflict in his testimony on his wife's behalf and the cap he intends to push.  Which is just another way of saying when it's him it matters, when it's the common folk then he can't be bothered.

Phones Ring Down Mexico Way

Here in the states they tell us "Bigger is better!" when it comes to mobile phone carriers.  AT&T found out the hard way that there is such a thing as too big, and if you want an example of what lack of competition means to consumers, you have to look no further than Carlos Slim, the world's richest man, and what his domination of Mexico's mobile industry has wrought.

Mexico’s phone industry, dominated by billionaire Carlos Slim’s carriers, overcharged customers $13.4 billion a year from 2005 to 2009, hurting the nation’s economy, according to a report.

The overcharging combined with the potential loss of business caused by high prices equaled 1.8 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development said today in a report.

Latin America’s second-biggest economy should eliminate restrictions on foreign investment in telecommunications and should strengthen the powers of its phone regulator, the OECD said. The 70 percent market share of Slim’s America Movil SAB (AMXL) in the mobile-phone business is “extremely high,” the OECD said. 

Yeah.  One guy's company owns 70% of Mexico's entire mobile industry.  As a result,  Mexican mobile users were overcharged to the tune of nearly 2% of the country's entire GDP.  In US terms, that would be like Wal-Mart buying out AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint, then doubling America's mobile phone bills or something and then overcharging us 1.8% of our GDP or so, the equivalent being $270 billion a year, give or take.

You think those kind of numbers would get attention here in the states if one guy had that kind of power here?  And yet that's exactly the endpoint of the GOP model, Mexico today.  Eliminate "burdensome" regulation and oversight and let the market leverage the power of networks and technology, right?  Enough to give one massive conglomerate 70% of the US mobile market share?

Capitalism does have its drawbacks at the extremist end, you know.

Texas Is All Hot, No Cattle

Once again the inconvenient specter of climate change rears its ugly head deep in the heart of you-know-where as year number two of the Lone Star State's worst drought in a century is forcing cattle ranchers to drive their herds out of the state to find pasture in numbers that are redefining the country's entire cattle industry. 

While some Texas ranchers hang on, selling off their stock at an unprecedented pace that has reduced America's cattle herd to the smallest in 60 years, many are carving new homesteads out of some of the richest grassland in North America, a bid for survival that falls somewhere between surrender and hope.

In cattle-car convoys that wind along routes cowboys used in the 1800s, this migration is also a stark illustration of the myriad threats facing the world's future food supply: intense competition for land; increasing demands on limited water resources; and the growing threat of volatile weather.

The size and speed of the shrinkage in the U.S. cattle herd has left the industry reeling. As the national cattle and calf inventory fell 2 percent from a year ago to its smallest since 1952, the herd in Texas dropped 11 percent or 1.4 million head, the biggest decline in nearly 150 years of recorded data.

But Nebraska's herd increased 4 percent or 250,000 head in the year to January 1, the most of any state, placing it ahead of Kansas as the country's second-largest cattle producer, according to the Department of Agriculture's bi-annual survey released on Friday.

Today, 7.1 percent of the country's cattle is in Nebraska - the state's largest share of the national herd since the federal government began collecting data in 1867. At 13 percent, Texas now has the smallest share since 1986.

And as climate change continues to play havoc with water systems, grassland expanses and just-in-time delivery to the supermarket shelf, this is only going to get more convoluted, more dangerous, and more expensive for Americans to consume.  Big Ag has already hyper-automated the meat process in this country to ludicrous levels.  With Mother Nature deciding not to play ball, all those plans are starting to come apart.  What's going on in Texas is going to be repeated in places across the world as more extreme weather events and climate patterns change the entire planet.

Earth of course will survive.  Whether or not we will is the question.


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