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29 February 2012

Quote Of The Day: Dennis Kucinich Working At Politico

"The congressman told me that if he loses the election next Tuesday, he'll apply for a job at Politico, where the demand for honesty and competence is high, but the supply is sometimes wanting." -Kucinich Campaign spokesman Andy Juniewicz, responding to reporters' attempts to determine whether the Representative will run for Congress in another state if he loses re-election in the Ohio primaries.

New Ron Paul Ad: 'Three Of A Kind'



So much for that "alliance" between Ron Paul and Mitt Romney that Rick Santorum was complaining about last week. This ad makes it painfully clear that Ron Paul is still going after the front-runner.

Newt Gingrich, Anti-Establishment Candidate?



The pro-Gingrich SuperPAC Winning Our Future has released this new animated advertisement which casts Mitt Romney as the "establishment candidate" who is simply waiting for the Republican nomination.

Which, by reasonable assumption, leaves the ad touting Newt Gingrich as the anti-establishment candidate -- since Winning Our Future supports Gingrich.

Really? Newt Gingrich is anti-establishment? The guy who was Speaker of the House? The guy who, after his time in Congress, worked as a lobbyist (though he won't call it that) on K Street?

Right. Anti-establishment indeed. Good luck with selling that.

Polling Iranian Sentiment Towards The United States



Check out what Gallup has found:
Iranians' already low approval of U.S. leadership did not get worse after the U.S. toughened sanctions in late 2011. Eight percent of Iranians approved of U.S. leadership in late 2011 and early 2012 -- one of the lowest ratings the U.S. receives worldwide. While nearly half of Iranians (46%) support cutting ties with countries that impose economic sanctions on Iran, nearly one in three (31%) do not, showing a sizable minority of Iranians still value relations.

Issue at Hand: The U.S., the U.K., and the EU in recent months have imposed some of the toughest economic sanctions on Iran yet to thwart its nuclear program. Iran has responded with threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, the route for one-fifth of the world's oil. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on state TV last week that, "no obstacles can stop Iran's nuclear work."

Tensions over Iran's disputed nuclear program escalated further last week after Iran refused to allow International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials to investigate nuclear activities at a military base. The IAEA reported after its recent trip that Iran had stepped up its uranium enrichment, sending oil prices soaring to a nine-month high Friday amid concerns about a confrontation with the West.

The U.S. and Israel are not ruling out strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities, but the U.S. is urging Israel to give the sanctions additional time to work. Iran is anticipated to be the focus when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with President Barack Obama next week.

Obama Administration's Stance: Calling Tehran's refusal to give IAEA officials access to the military site "disappointing," U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said last week that the U.S. still wants to see negotiations move forward. "There is that diplomatic track," Toner said. "But we're not going to ease up on the sanctions."

Although the administration has not taken any options off the table to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, Obama said in his State of the Union address that he believed that a peaceful resolution is still possible, and, if Iran abides by its international obligations, it can "rejoin the community of nations."

Iranians' Approval of U.S. and Other Key Players: The 8% of Iranians who approved of U.S. leadership in late 2011 and early 2012 is similar to the 9% measured in early 2011, and remains one of the lowest ratings the U.S. receives worldwide. Other countries that are tightening sanctions, such as the U.K., Germany, and the EU, also have few admirers in Iran. Seven percent of Iranians approve of the U.K.'s leadership, while slightly more approve of the leadership of Germany (13%) and the EU in general (13%).
But, but, but.... this doesn't fit the meme that the President is apologizing for America and paving the way for Iranian nuclear weapons!

Seriously though, this is further support of the idea that the United States should not get involved in anything other than diplomacy with Iran. Period.

Rick Santorum Wants To Take Back JFK Comments

Yesterday, on radio host Laura Ingraham's syndicated show, Rick Santorum had to first weather Ingraham's criticism of his remarks:
I mean, as a Catholic, he's a revered president of the United States, assassinated, I probably wouldn't have gone down that road with JFK and I was going to throw up. We generally don't want to hear presidential candidates talking about throwing up at all in any context.
Which resulted, perhaps not-so-shockingly, in Santorum trying to distance himself from his original comments:
The Republican presidential candidate said he regrets saying a 1960 John F. Kennedy speech on religion made him want to throw up.

"I wish that I had that particular line back," the former Pennsylvania Senator — who's also a Catholic — admitted on the Laura Ingraham radio show on Tuesday.
Ooops. Duh.


President Obama Hits Back On Auto Bailout



Speaking to the United Auto Workers union yesterday, President Obama responded to the critics of the so-called auto bailout. Said the President:
I’ve got to admit, it’s been funny to watch some of these politicians completely try to rewrite history now that you’re back on your feet. The same folks who said if we went forward with our plan to rescue Detroit, ‘You can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.’ Now they’re saying we were right all along. Or you’ve got folks saying ‘Well the real problem is, what we really disagreed with was the workers, they all made out like bandits, that saving the auto industry was just about paying back unions. Really? Even by the standards of this town, that’s a load of you know what.
I'm viewing this as the President's first real shot across the bow of the Republican party for the general election this fall -- even though there is not an official Republican nominee. Yet.

Happy Leap Day!

So, have you ever tried to explain the actual reason behind Leap Day to a child?
Although most years of the modern calendar have 365 days, a complete revolution around the sun takes approximately 365 days and 6 hours. Every four years, during which an extra 24 hours have accumulated, one extra day is added to keep the count coordinated with the sun's apparent position.
Yeah. Well, I tried to explain that this morning to my exceedingly smart 8-year-old. Then the questions ensued. Yowza.

Either way, happy Leap Day! Did Leap Day William bring you some candy?



Real life is for March!

Mitt Romney Wins Michigan GOP Primary

Via Politico, Mitt Romney has won the Michigan GOP primary for president, according to the Associated Press.

More later.

28 February 2012

Mitt Romney Wins Arizona GOP Primary

CNN just projected a win for Mitt Romney in the Republican primary election in Arizona.

RNC Hits President Obama With Ad In Michigan



Ouch. That's a tough ad.

Quote Of The Day: Romney Would Fire Christopher Columbus

"I was describing the other week some ideas, and Romney said, 'You know, boy, if somebody came to him with ideas like that he would have fired him'. Someone in Chattanooga said to me this morning, he said you know, Romney was the kind of guy who would fire Christopher Columbus. While the cynics, and the quote, realists, ridicule vision. I believe in the Bible: Without vision the people perish." Newt Gingrich, speaking to supporters in his 'home-state' of Georgia earlier today.

Hard Wuerk



-M.Wuerker, Wuerking Drawings

Religious Freedom Vs. Voting For War

Over at The American Conservative, Rod Dreher makes a great point about two seemingly contradictory Republican stances:
I said in the previous entry that watching the depressing GOP debate [last week], in which Santorum and Romney, one of whom will be the GOP nominee, fell all over themselves to declare themselves ready to attack Iran, it seems that for me, this election is coming down to voting to protect religious freedom, or voting for war. Let me explain what that means.

A vote for the Republican nominee is a vote for a bellicose foreign policy conducted by a president and a party that learned nothing — nothing! — from the Iraq experience. I find it very, very hard to imagine voting for such a candidate. It must be admitted, however, that Obama has not ruled out war against Iran either, though it is reasonable to believe he would be much less willing to cross that line than either Santorum or Romney.
I would have been satisfied to sit this race out, or to vote third party — or, in an extreme case, vote for Obama to keep someone like Newt Gingrich from the White House. But the religious freedom fight over the HHS rule changed that. I am not against contraception, but I found the position the administration took, and the way it handled the controversy, chilling. It told me that when it got right down to it, the Obama administration would stick a shiv in the back of religious institutions to please the cultural left. Given what I take to be the likelihood that the Supreme Court will mandate same-sex marriage at some point in the next eight years, I am genuinely worried about the impact that will have on the liberties of religious schools, houses of worship, and other institutions that dissent on gay marriage.
Now, Dreher thinks that the Health and Human Service rule is infringing upon religious freedom, and I disagree with that. BUT, I really like his larger point here about war.

If you are a conservative, a Republican, or anyone who opposes the HHS ruling based on religious freedom, it seems to me that you are doing so from a pro-life standpoint. Period. Catholics oppose contraception on the basis that it is tantamount to abortion.

But here we have Rick Santorum, that bastion of pro-lifery, practically arguing for an invasion of Iran to stop them from developing nuclear weapons. And fellow GOP challenger Mitt Romney all-but says the same thing: Iran must be stopped from becoming a nuclear power.

But at what cost gentlemen? Dreher is absolutely right here. "A vote for the Republican nominee is a vote for a bellicose foreign policy conducted by a president and a party that learned nothing — nothing! — from the Iraq experience."

But what stymies me even further is this idea that these guys are pro-life -- and yet are cheerleading nothing less than a march to war. How is that being pro-life? How is this saber-rattling point-of-view a representation of Christian convictions regarding war?

Thoughts?

27 February 2012

All Rick Santorum, All The Time

If it seems like things have been Rick Santorum-heavy on the blog lately, you're right. They have.

BUT, as strange as it sounds, Santorum is continuing to do well in the Republican primary fight -- as evidenced by the new Quinnipiac University poll, out today:
With strong support from men and conservatives, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum leads the Ohio GOP presidential field with 36 percent of likely Republican primary voters, followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 29 points, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. But 45 percent of voters say they might change their mind.

This is unchanged from the results of a February 15 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University.

Today's results show former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 17 percent and Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul with 11 percent of likely Republican primary voters.

Santorum tops Romney 38 - 25 percent among men, while women split 34 - 33 percent. Santorum wins 40 - 25 percent among self-identified conservatives and 49 - 19 percent among Tea Party members. Self-identified moderates back Romney 39 - 27 percent.
If you had pulled me aside in February/March of 2011 and said, "hey dude, one year from now Rick Santorum will be the guy to beat in the GOP primary," I would have slapped you and said that you were certifiably insane.

No joke. I never, in a million years thought that Santorum would have lasted this long (thanks a lot, Citizens United v. FEC) -- and yet, here he is.

JFK Makes Rick Santorum Want To Vomit

Yesterday on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopolous, presidential candidate Rick Santorum made clear his disdain for President John F. Kennedy's stance on religion in politics:
STEPHANOPOULOS: You have also spoken out about the issue of religion in politics, and early in the campaign, you talked about John F. Kennedy's famous speech to the Baptist ministers in Houston back in 1960. Here is what you had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: Earlier (ph) in my political career, I had the opportunity to read the speech, and I almost threw up. You should read the speech.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: That speech has been read, as you know, by millions of Americans. Its themes were echoed in part by Mitt Romney in the last campaign. Why did it make you throw up?

SANTORUM: Because the first line, first substantive line in the speech says, "I believe in America where the separation of church and state is absolute." I don't believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country.

This is the First Amendment. The First Amendment says the free exercise of religion. That means bringing everybody, people of faith and no faith, into the public square. Kennedy for the first time articulated the vision saying, no, faith is not allowed in the public square. I will keep it separate. Go on and read the speech. I will have nothing to do with faith. I won't consult with people of faith. It was an absolutist doctrine that was abhorrent (ph) at the time of 1960. And I went down to Houston, Texas 50 years almost to the day, and gave a speech and talked about how important it is for everybody to feel welcome in the public square. People of faith, people of no faith, and be able to bring their ideas, to bring their passions into the public square and have it out. James Madison—

STEPHANOPOULOS: You think you wanted to throw up?

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: -- the perfect remedy. Well, yes, absolutely, to say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes you throw up. What kind of country do we live that says only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case? That makes me throw up and it should make every American who is seen from the president, someone who is now trying to tell people of faith that you will do what the government says, we are going to impose our values on you, not that you can't come to the public square and argue against it, but now we're going to turn around and say we're going to impose our values from the government on people of faith, which of course is the next logical step when people of faith, at least according to John Kennedy, have no role in the public square.
Right. Um, no.

The way that I see this, Santorum is bastardizing what President John F. Kennedy said in that famous speech from 1960:
I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.
Wake up Senator Santorum! Kennedy was not advocating for the complete removal of religion from American life -- as somehow enforced by the federal government. JFK was merely re-stating the ideals of the Founding Fathers; that the government should not be a party to, or offer support towards the forming of a theocracy. The Founders recognized that, while religion can and does have a powerful influence over individuals, it should not have an influence over government.

That is what JFK was talking about -- and he was right.

The idea that separation of church and state somehow hinders the ability for Christians to have a 'role in the public square' is simply ridiculous (because let's keep it real here folks, Santorum is not talking about Jews or Muslims -- but that's a different post for a different day).

------
Photo: ABC News

26 February 2012

Sunday Morning Music



You are listening to "Blue Monk" from Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall.

From Wikipedia:
It was recorded on 29 November 1957 at "Thanksgiving Jazz", a benefit concert produced by Kenneth Lee Karpe for the Morningside Community Center in Harlem. Other acts playing included: Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles, Sonny Rollins, and Chet Baker with Zoot Sims. The recording, by Voice of America, documents two sets by the Monk Quartet with Coltrane that night – an early set (tracks 1-5) and a more relaxed late set (tracks 6-9), which the recording does not fully document.

The tape was stored at the Library of Congress where it sat untouched, until 2005 when it was discovered by recording lab supervisor Larry Appelbaum. The recording was then restored by producer Michael Cuscuna and T.S. Monk (Thelonious Monk's son).
It's remarkable that this recording sat for nearly 50 years before it was discovered and restored.

Head nod once again to my friend Benjamin who suggested I check out this album. I purchased it via iTunes several weeks ago and it has been making regular rotations on my work iPod. A great album.

Enjoy your Sunday.

25 February 2012

Saturday Morning Cartoon

Eat your Wheaties -- it's cartoon time!



Is it me, or does Turbo Teen seem kind of like a cartoon-ish rip-off of Knight Rider? Just sayin'.

24 February 2012

New Ad: Rick Santorum Is 'On Your Side'



Is it just me, or does this ad seem like a direct response to Mitt Romney's "my team is the American people" comment from yesterday?

And the irony is that Romney's comments yesterday were in response to Santorum's comments at the CNN debate in Arizona ('I voted for that. It was against the principles I believed in, but when you’re part of the team, sometimes you take one for the team for the leader.').

Oh, what a tangled web we weave.

Alan Simpson: 'Rick Santorum Is Homophobic'

Alan Simpson lays into Rick Santorum:
"I am convinced that if you get into these social issues and just stay in there about abortion and homosexuality and even mental health they bring up, somehow they're going to take us all to Alaska and float us out in the Bering Sea or something," Simpson said in an interview with CBS News released on Wednesday. "We won't have a prayer."

Throughout his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, the former Pennsylvania senator has made social issues the centerpiece, and has championed incentivizing strong, nuclear households as a way to improve economic growth

"He is rigid and a homophobic," Simpson, a Mitt Romney supporter, said. "He said, 'I want a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage,' and they said, 'Well, what about the people who are already married?' And he said, 'Well, they would be nullified.' I mean what is, what's human, what's kind about that? We're all human beings, we all know or love somebody who's gay or lesbian so what the hell is that about? To me it's startling and borders on disgust."
DAMN. With friends like these...

And here is the video evidence, via CBS News:


Romney Receives Endorsement From The Arizona Republic

Arizona's largest newspaper gets behind the former Governor of Massachusetts. Although, the opinion begins as a not-so-ringing-endorsement of Romney (emphasis mine):
Not only is the former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, best prepared, according to those criteria, of all the remaining GOP presidential hopefuls. He is also among the most skilled job-creating candidates for chief executive we can imagine.

The Arizona Republic recommends that, in Tuesday's primary election, Republican voters support Mitt Romney for president.

There are better orators in American politics. Indeed, the Democrats appear to have one. And certainly there are Republicans who better project the passion for the office they seek. Steady, unflappable Romney would not a "passion president" make.

But there is eloquence in achievement. And, for the task at hand, as defined by Republicans themselves, the real-world achievements of Mitt Romney far surpass those of virtually all the lifelong politicians against whom he is competing.
But the Republic continues on, and takes a few minor shots at Romney's compeitition:
[W]e believe Romney is the most prudent, responsible and electable of the four GOP candidates still actively competing.

Especially when compared with the unpredictable volatility of a Newt Gingrich, Romney's steady demeanor is a great asset. Unlike Gingrich, who set off international alarm bells with his careless reference to Palestinians as an "invented people," Romney has raised no eyebrows. In debates, his foreign-policy views reflect a deep grasp of American interests overseas, particularly as they apply to the Middle East generally and Afghanistan in particular.

This is not a moment for culture warriors like Rick Santorum. And while we believe Romney has solid family values that mirror much of what Santorum preaches, he does not wear his beliefs on his sleeve.

And speaking of the man's values, those very family values that Romney quietly exudes constitute an eloquent response of their own to those who contend the wealthy Romney is "out of touch" with the common person.

Yes, out-of-context declarations like "I enjoy firing people" and "I don't care about the poor" contribute to the caricature of a rich swell, akin to that of Donald Trump. Really? Where are the trophy wives? The ostentatious lifestyle? The garish displays of life among the rich and famous? You will have to look hard.

Romney's link to the middle class is in the way he lives. With his one and only wife, Ann, and with his five sons. In a time of enormous social upheaval, he is remarkable for maintaining a wholly unsensational personal life.

The advantages Romney has brought to this primary race, including his superior organization and successful fundraising, are further evidence of his superiority over his competitors. Both Santorum and Gingrich failed to make the primary ballot in their adopted home state of Virginia. That is not a mistake the efficient Romney organization would make.

Mitt Romney is by far the best candidate to represent Republicans in the coming race against President Obama. He is best prepared to do what needs to be done, which is nothing less than restoring the American economy.
It is difficult to read those comparisons to Gingrich and Santorum, and disagree with the editors of The Arizona Republic.

------
Photo: Alex Brandon/AP photo

23 February 2012

Rick Santorum Ad Goes Negative On Mitt Romney



And this one is from the Santorum campaign -- not a surrogate or SuperPAC. The ad goes after Romney on guns, abortion, health care, taxes, and earmarks.

So... what's left?

Mitt Romney: "My Team Is The American People"

Well, that didn't take long.

In an appearance in Arizona today, Mitt Romney sharply attacked Rick Santorum's flub from last night's debate: “We saw Senator Santorum explain most of the night why he did or voted for things he disagreed with,” Romney said during an appearance before a meeting of the Associated Builders and Contractors.
Mitt Romney hammered rival Rick Santorum on Thursday over his performance in Wednesday's Republican presidential debate, ridiculing the former Pennsylvania senator for his attempts to explain why he repeatedly voted against his conscience while in Congress.

“We saw Senator Santorum explain most of the night why he did or voted for things he disagreed with,” Romney said during an appearance before a meeting of the Associated Builders and Contractors. “And he talked about this as taking one for the team. I wonder what team he was taking it for. My team is the American people.”
Ouch.

PAC Ad: "Mitt Romney Saved My Daughter"



An, um, interesting advertisement from Restore Our Future PAC in support of Mitt Romney:
My 14 year old daughter had disappeared in New York City for 3 days. No one could find her. My business partner stepped forward to take charge. He closed the company and brought almost all our employees to New York. He said I don't care how long takes, we're going to find her. He set up a command center and searched through the night. The man who helped save my daughter was Mitt Romney. Mitt's done a lot of things that people say are nearly impossible. But, for me, the most important thing he's ever done is to help save my daughter.
Which just happens to be really similar to this ad from 2008.

Last Night's GOP Debate: Rick Santorum's Slow Exit

[credit: AP photo]
So, there it is; Rick Santorum is toast. Let me explain why.

During last night's CNN debate, when talking about the No Child Left Behind Act, Santorum cracked this gem:
I voted for that. It was against the principles I believed in, but when you’re part of the team, sometimes you take one for the team for the leader. And I made a mistake.
Um, WOW.

Okay, so a couple of things happened in this relatively short comment.

1. Firstly, Rick Santorum admitted that he 'made a mistake'. It is indeed a rarity in politics that a politician admits making a mistake. Let alone a politician who is running for president.

Some might argue that this is refreshing, others a sign of weakness. I simply fall into the category of shocked.

2. Secondly, a point perhaps even more intriguing to me than Santorum admitting making a mistake lies in the second sentence in that quote:
It was against the principles I believed in, but when you’re part of the team, sometimes you take one for the team for the leader.
Yes, you read that correctly; Santorum said that he set aside his principles and followed his party.

In nearly all political arguments in any ideological background I hear people touting their candidate's independence of thought. The comment always comes up in the form of, 'My Guy does not kowtow to his party.' or 'Candidate X will stand up to people -- even in his own party!'

Well, last night Mr. Santorum admitted to the country that he buckles under pressure from his party leaders. Oh sure, he thinks that it was a mistake, but conservatives -- particularly in the Tea Party movement -- will be hard-pressed to support someone who abandons their principles in favor of what is tantamount to political 'peer pressure'. Folks in the Tea Party movement, and elsewhere, want someone representing them who shares their values and ideals. But that person needs to fight for those values and ideals when challenged. Santorum's admission flies in the face of that.

3. Lastly, overall, there was no major shift in power as a result of the collective performance.

Ron Paul was consistent, as always. You know what you are getting with the Ron Paul candidacy -- and he never makes any big headlines at the debates.

Newt Gingrich was clearly no longer a front-runner and made no real efforts to regain that status. He made some good points, and got several good applause lines, but I think that he knows that he's still in the race simply because folks like Sheldon Adelson continue to pump money into his campaign. If this was 2008, Newt would have dropped out months ago.

Mitt Romney had a few good one-liners, but largely appeared to be the same guy that he was in the previous 19 debates; the Guy To Beat.

In the end, I think that this debate was Santorum's to lose -- and lose he did. His seemingly endless, meandering responses to questions on earmarks and the V-22 Osprey (the most essential air platform for our Marines!) left many-a-head spinning. Most importantly, he needed to show that he was going to take down Mitt Romney -- and that just did not happen.

Rick Santorum SuperPAC Ad Hits Mitt Romney Where It Hurts



This latest ad from the Red White And Blue Fund -- the superPAC that is backing Rick Santorum -- hits Mitt Romney where it hurts; on his (perceived) similarities to President Obama.

I have to say that, if someone else wins the GOP nomination, this will likely be the reason why. I've seen and heard many Republicans saying that Romney has too many similarities to Barack Obama, particularly on the health care issue (e.g. RomneyCare = ObamaCare). It's clear to me that Mitt Romney needs to continue to make the differences between himself and the President -- of which there are many -- explicitly clear.

If he doesn't, this argument will continue to gather steam amongst supporters of candidates like Santorum.

22 February 2012

Quote Of The Day: Donald Trump's Robo-Call

"This is Donald Trump and I have to tell you that I'm tired of Rick Santorum pretending he's some kind of D.C. outsider. Rick Santorum is a career politician that's never had a job in the private sector — he doesn't know about producing jobs." -Donald Trump, reality tv star and former kind-of-presidential candidate, in a Michigan robo-call supporting Mitt Romney.

21 February 2012

Franklin Graham Questions The President's Religious Beliefs



Annnnnnd, we're still stuck on this one? Come on religious-types. Let it go. The President is a Christian, and a citizen of the United States to boot.

Said Graham:
I think people have to ask Barack Obama. He's come out saying he's a Christian, so I think the question is, 'What is a Christian?'
And later in the interview, Mr. Graham said that he could not definitively say that President Obama was not a Muslim:
Under Islamic law -– Sharia law -– Islam sees him as a son of Islam. Because his father was a Muslim, his grandfather was a Muslim, his great-grandfather was a Muslim, and so, under Islamic law, they, the Muslim world sees Barack Obama as a Muslim, as a son of Islam. That's just the way it works. That's the way they see it.
Ugh.

Worf Gets Denied. A Lot.


[via Mental Floss]
Oh snap. Poor Worf. He gets very little love. And yes, this post is totally Vast bait. Just sayin'.

Ron Paul Sharing Opposition Research On Rick Santorum With... Everyone

Welcome to the Big Leagues Rick. It's going to get much worse before it gets better:
With Santorum potentially on the brink of upsetting Romney in Michigan next week, the Paul campaign is targeting the former Pennsylvania senator for what it says is hypocrisy -- after Santorum criticized Romney on the 2002 Winter Olympics.

“He heroically bailed out the Salt Lake City Olympic Games by heroically going to Congress and asking them for tens of millions of dollars to bail out the Salt Lake games,” Santorum told a crowd in Ohio on Saturday. “In an earmark for the Salt Lake Olympic games."

The Romney campaign claims the money was for post-9/11 security at the Olympics.

And in an email to NBC News, a senior Ron Paul campaign source points out that in 2001 Santorum voted for legislation that -- you guessed it -- provided millions for security at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Then, First Read gives us the evidence: the vote and the legislation.

That is some damning evidence right there. Ouch.

Ron Paul Ad: Rick Santorum Is A "Fake" Conservative



The Bigfoot holding the "fake" sign is a nice touch.

After watching this Ron Paul ad (and many others), here is my question: why doesn't he talk this way?

I feel that this is an extremely effective spot criticizing a competitor -- and it isn't Paul's first. There have been several other ads that strike a similar tone.

But, when Ron Paul hits the stump or the stage, inevitably he strays into very wonky rhetoric that would undoubtedly confuse the average American. I'm not suggesting that he should avoid this wonky rhetoric -- for clearly it is his bread-and-butter. However, I am suggesting that the good doctor from Texas should sprinkle in some of the red meat from these ads when he's on the teevee or speaking to a crowd.

I think he might see better traction with Republicans if he was was more focused on Rick Santorum's shortcomings than the shortcomings of the Federal Reserve. Just sayin'.

20 February 2012

Happy President's Day

What a great weekend here in the 'T'.

TPW and I took Friday and Monday off to make this a relaxed, four-day weekend with the kids. And a relaxed weekend it has been.

For the first time in a while, we didn't have any weekend activities. Oh, don't get me wrong, I love coaching my son's soccer team and helping my daughter sell Girl Scout cookies (Samoas, FTW). But, it is really nice to just lay around, drink coffee and play family games all weekend.

Yesterday was so nice that we spent the majority of the afternoon outside. The Boy and I played basketball -- and he insisted on a t-shirt and shorts. Maybe a little too much gusto on his part, as I was still chilled in my sweatshirt and sweatpants -- but hey, he's an eight-year-old. I've got to let him LIVE.

So, this morning I'm blogging this from my iPhone, while drinking my coffee and watching Morning Joe -- Best. Monday. Morning. Ever. I do enjoy my work, but it is so very nice to have a small "stay-cation" to unplug and be with my family.

More tomorrow, because there is a LOT to talk about. Until then, enjoy your Monday.

19 February 2012

Sunday Morning Music



You are listening to "Celebrate" from Common's latest release The Dreamer/The Believer.

I downloaded the whole album from iTunes on Monday and have been listening to it all week. I think it's a great record.

Enjoy your Sunday.

18 February 2012

Saturday Morning Cartoon

Eat your Wheaties -- it's cartoon time!

16 February 2012

A Really Late Post On The Grammy Awards

So, I'm nearly a week late on this one. My bad.

I'd like to nominate the Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl for the Best Grammy Acceptance Speech Ever.


Seriously. How f**kin' cool are these guys?

Okay, I know that this site is primarily dedicated to politics and media -- but I didn't get a chance to say anything earlier this week about the Grammys Awards this past Sunday evening. There were some good performances, and the tributes to Etta James and Whitney Houston were nice as well.

But, the Foo Fighters acceptance speech for Best Rock Performance (for their song "Walk") really spoke to me.

All to often these day, pop music dominates the airwaves of radio and music television channels (but, not MTV) -- but it is a pop music that is overly-sampled, auto-tuned and largely unoriginal-sounding music.

The music industry needs more successful 'organic' artists like Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters to step-up and say, "Look -- you can make great music without having to use tons of computers to alter it."

14 February 2012

New Ad: "Santorum Is The Next George Washington"



Um, really?

Happy Valentine's Day


New Mitt Romney Michigan TV Ad: "Growing Up"



...but pay no attention to those poll numbers.

Joe Scarborough Gets A Blog

I've always like Joe Scarborough and -- back in my days as a stay-at-home dad -- I used to watch Morning Joe every morning while my coffee was brewed and drank.

Now, the former Congressman from Florida has his own blog at POLITICO.com:
Like Navin R. Johnson seeing his name in the phone book for the first time, I feel like this is the lucky break I've been waiting for all my life. My blog will delight you and your extended family with stories of European futbol matches that end in 0-0 ties, underground bands for whom neither you nor your friends have ever heard, and inspiring stories regaling the glories of my time in Congress 47 years ago.

I will also do my best to let you know what's really happening behind the scenes in Congress, the White House and in the media world. I'll also write about the things that really matter the most to me -- like my ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control, and the paddle ball... and this lamp. That's all I need, is this lamp....and this blog.
But, if the comments beneath his inaugural post are any indicator, the usual blog-trolls will keep a high profile.

Check out this, errr, spirited debate:



Good luck to you there "scaryborough". Heh.

Newt Gingrich's Valentine To Mitt Romney

Cute.


[click to embiggen]
Despite recent comments that Gingrich is planning on lots of lovin' with Callista:
"All I can promise is that I believe she will be quite happy," the ex-House Speaker said to hoots and whistles from the audience.

"I think for the first time in a while we'll have a private dinner and just hopefully exchange gifts and, you know reconnect a little bit," he said with a smile.

Gingrich then raised his arms in the air to wave off further questions, quickly adding "No more details!"
...the Gingrich campaign has launched "LiberalsLoveRomney.com" -- something of a humorous jab at Romney's perceived flip-floppery since his gubernatorial days in Massachusetts.

Happy Valentine's Day, Romney campaign.

Santorum Appealing To The "Conservative Commentariat"

Last week, Matt Lewis posted an interesting piece up at The Daily Caller wherein he described the many reasons that "conservative commentariat" will like Rick Santorum:
While the center-right media intelligentsia were more than happy to help destroy the “unserious” candidates such as Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich (and others), they generally like Santorum. There are likely many reasons for this.

One appealing attribute is that Santorum is somewhat of a wonkish intellectual type. This appeals to conservative pundits who fear the tea party set might nominate someone who would make them look like a rube to their cosmopolitan friends. As the Washington Post’s in-house Romney cheerleader, Jennifer Rubin, wrote, Santorum “is a well-educated man who cites (without pretense) everyone from John Adams to C.S. Lewis. He’s someone who thinks it important to know things — and know them in detail if you’re going to run for the presidency.”

And consider National Review’s infamous editorial, tearing down Gingrich (and Bachmann and Perry). That same piece praised Santorum as “an effective legislator” and included him among the candidates who “deserve serious consideration.”

Having served as a senator in Washington for more than a decade, it’s also true that many conservative commentators have likely met or worked with him over the years.

Lastly, there’s also the fact that Santorum is outspoken regarding his Catholic faith. Anecdotally speaking, Catholics seem well-represented among the conservative media elite (the most famous example having been Bill Buckley). One might surmise this helps Santorum connect. And, let’s be honest, say what you will about Santorum’s “big government” record, he was a tireless worker on behalf of cultural issues.

At a time when Catholics (arguably the swing vote in America) are coming under fire by the White House, Santorum’s intelligence, faith, and ability to communicate effectively seem to be especially appealing attributes. My guess is these factors have converged to make Santorum just as appealing to conservative intellectuals as he is to blue collar “rust belt” workers.
I can't disagree with Lewis on too much here.

However, I will say this: Santorum lost his 2006 U.S. Senate re-election bid by 17 points in Pennsylvania. Whether or not the conservative Chattering Class thinks he is politically attractive -- or even starts to like him -- is irrelevant when you look at that fact.

Last Minute Valentine's Day Grab

Hey loser -- haven't gotten anything for your sexified significant other yet? I've got your back.

For a measly 99¢ you can head over to the iTunes store and download the Valentine's Day e-card app from our pals at Cerebral Itch.



Tell 'em that The Pajama Pundit sent you.

Oh, you won't get anything for it. I don't carry that kind of clout. But, just say 'hi' for me, willya?

13 February 2012

On The Contraception/Religious Freedom Issue

Okay gang, here we go.


[credit: Susan Walsh/AP photo]
I must admit that I hadn't really been following the kerfluffle about the recent Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) mandate. Honestly, I didn't get what all of the fuss was about.

But, because this topic has completely dominated much of the 2012 election coverage (?) lately, I decided to take a look at things.

Firstly, despite all of the hyperbole that is being thrown about, what is the actual policy?

This is from Kathleen Sebelius' statement on the new rule:
[T]he Department of Health and Human Services issued an interim final rule that will require most health insurance plans to cover preventive services for women including recommended contraceptive services without charging a co-pay, co-insurance or a deductible. The rule allows certain non-profit religious employers that offer insurance to their employees the choice of whether or not to cover contraceptive services. Today the department is announcing that the final rule on preventive health services will ensure that women with health insurance coverage will have access to the full range of the Institute of Medicine’s recommended preventive services, including all FDA -approved forms of contraception. Women will not have to forego these services because of expensive co-pays or deductibles, or because an insurance plan doesn’t include contraceptive services. This rule is consistent with the laws in a majority of states which already require contraception coverage in health plans, and includes the exemption in the interim final rule allowing certain religious organizations not to provide contraception coverage. Beginning August 1, 2012, most new and renewed health plans will be required to cover these services without cost sharing for women across the country.

After evaluating comments, we have decided to add an additional element to the final rule. Nonprofit employers who, based on religious beliefs, do not currently provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance plan, will be provided an additional year, until August 1, 2013, to comply with the new law. Employers wishing to take advantage of the additional year must certify that they qualify for the delayed implementation. This additional year will allow these organizations more time and flexibility to adapt to this new rule. We intend to require employers that do not offer coverage of contraceptive services to provide notice to employees, which will also state that contraceptive services are available at sites such as community health centers, public clinics, and hospitals with income-based support. We will continue to work closely with religious groups during this transitional period to discuss their concerns.

Scientists have abundant evidence that birth control has significant health benefits for women and their families, is documented to significantly reduce health costs, and is the most commonly taken drug in America by young and middle-aged women. This rule will provide women with greater access to contraception by requiring coverage and by prohibiting cost sharing.

This decision was made after very careful consideration, including the important concerns some have raised about religious liberty. I believe this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services. The administration remains fully committed to its partnerships with faith-based organizations, which promote healthy communities and serve the common good. And this final rule will have no impact on the protections that existing conscience laws and regulations give to health care providers.
My emphasis.

So, as I understand this debacle, HHS is mandating (under the Affordable Care Act -- or "Obamacare" as opponents will call it) that all employers provide co-pay free contraceptives to their employees. While there is an exception for religious organizations, that exception does not extend to religiously affiliated organizations.

Perhaps not-so-shockingly, some people are pissed:
The Obama administration's decision requiring church-affiliated employers to cover birth control was bound to cause an uproar among Roman Catholics and members of other faiths, no matter their beliefs on contraception.

The regulation, finalized a week ago, raises a complex and sensitive legal question: Which institutions qualify as religious and can be exempt from the mandate?

For a church, mosque or synagogue, the answer is mostly straightforward. But for the massive network of religious-run social service agencies there is no simple solution. Federal law lays out several criteria for the government to determine which are religious. But in the case of the contraception mandate, critics say Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius chose the narrowest ones. Religious groups that oppose the regulation say it forces people of faith to choose between upholding church doctrine and serving the broader society.

"It's not about preventing women from buying anything themselves, but telling the church what it has to buy, and the potential for that to go further," said Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, representing some 600 hospitals.
Again, my emphasis.

And here is where I get befuddled; what is Sister Keehan talking about?

While the Catholic Health Association is surely affiliated with the Catholic Church, the last time I checked a hospital is not a house of worship.

Moreover, the fuss that is being made regarding this mandate appears to me to be nothing but hot air. As it turns out, there doesn't appear to be anything of real controversy. These issues have already been dealt with in the courts:
[E]mployers have pretty much been required to provide contraceptive coverage as part of their health plans since December 2000. That's when the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that failure to provide such coverage violates the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act. That law is, in turn, an amendment to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which outlaws, among other things, discrimination based on gender.

Here's how the EEOC put it at the time: "The Commission concludes that Respondents' exclusion of prescription contraceptives violates Title VII, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, whether the contraceptives are used for birth control or for other medical purposes."

But it's not only the EEOC that has ruled on the issue. More than half the states have similar "contraceptive equity" laws on the books, many with religious exceptions similar or identical to the one included in the administration's regulation.
More:
There are now lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the policy, including a new one filed on behalf of the religious television network EWTN. But the exemptions have already been tested in court, at least at the state level.

In 2004, the California Supreme Court upheld that state's law, in a suit brought by Catholic Charities, on a vote of 6-1.

The court ruled that Catholic Charities didn't qualify as a "religious employer" because it didn't meet each of four key criteria (which, by the way, are the same as those in the new federal regulation):
  • The organization's primary purpose is "the inculcation of religious values."
  • It primarily employs people of that religion.
  • It primarily serves people of that religion.
  • It's a registered nonprofit organization.
Two years later, in 2006, New York's top state court rejected a claim by Catholic Charities and several other religious groups that the state's contraceptive coverage law discriminated against them because it exempted churches but not their religiously affiliated groups.

"When a religious organization chooses to hire nonbelievers, it must, at least to some degree, be prepared to accept neutral regulations imposed to protect those employees' legitimate interests in doing what their own beliefs permit," the justices wrote.
So, that takes care of that.

But, what is of greater concern to me is the ridiculous hyperbole that we're hearing from Republicans like Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum -- not to mention the right-wing blogosphere.

Newt is decrying that Obama is infringing on religious liberty.

Romney said, "We have found from liberals across the country an effort to impose their will on religious organizations and on the population at large, and that is something we have to fight at every turn."

And Rick Santorum is really no different: "[The President is] now telling the Catholic Church that they are forced to pay for things that are against their basic tenets and teachings. It's not about contraception. It's about economic liberty."

Look guys, we get it; you don't like Obama or "Obamacare" and you want to make the President a one-termer. Shocking.

But, here is the question that continues to rattle around in my puny brain: Where were all of this "religious freedom" rhetoric during the Park51 debate? What is the Park51 Project you say?

You might remember it as the "Ground Zero Mosque". Yeah. Many of the same folks who are crying foul over the HHS mandate are the same people who wanted to stop -- at all costs -- the so-called Ground Zero Mosque from ever being built. How's that for some delicious hypocrisy for you?

But, back to the task at hand.

I understand that contraception is a hot-button issue for many religiously-minded folks. I get that. If the HHS mandate was telling a church, of any faith, that they were being forced to do something that was contrary to their religious tenets, then I would be pissed.

What I don't understand is why everyone is so up-in-arms over a religiously-affiliated organization -- and the keyword here is affiliated -- having to provide certain benefits to their employees.

As it happens, TPW was formerly employed by a small, private Catholic-affiliated college. Ostensibly, this type of institution falls under the auspices of what so many conservatives (and some liberals too) are saying should not have to provide contraception options for their employees. And yet, when TPW worked at this small college, she was not (and still is not) Catholic. Nor were the majority of her co-workers, be they faculty or staff. Indeed, many of the students at this particular institution were of a faith other than Catholocism.

I would argue that the Catholic church -- the religious organization itself -- employs more actual Catholics than its' religious affiliates (schools, hospitals, etc.), while the latter employs more of a mixture of faiths (and non-believers too).

For an employer to foist its belief system onto its employees strikes me as a bit odd. If I were interviewing for a job and the person sitting across the desk said, "hey, you'll need to sign a statement of faith", I would seriously re-consider working for that person or organization.

But that's just me.

Now, apparently all of this blather appears to be for not; the President is trying to be more, errr, inclusive:
President Barack Obama announced a compromise Friday in the dispute over whether to require full contraception insurance coverage for female employees at religiously affiliated institutions.Under the plan, religiously affiliated universities and hospitals will not be forced to offer contraception coverage to their employees. Insurers will be required, however, to offer complete coverage free of charge to any women who work at such institutions.
Or, would it be less inclusive? Ugh.

Honestly, I'm not sure who looks more ridiculous; the President, or the Catholic Bishops that are making a stink.

National Review: It's Time For Newt Gingrich To Drop Out

The editorial staff at National Review Online make a compelling argument for the former Speaker to quit the race for the Republican nomination:
At the moment Rick Santorum appears to be overtaking Newt Gingrich as the principal challenger to Mitt Romney. Santorum has won more contests than Gingrich (who has won only one), has more delegates, and leads him in the polls. In at least one poll, he also leads Romney. It isn’t yet a Romney–Santorum contest, but it could be headed that way.

We hope so. Gingrich’s verbal and intellectual talents should make him a resource for any future Republican president. But it would be a grave mistake for the party to make someone with such poor judgment and persistent unpopularity its presidential nominee. It is not clear whether Gingrich remains in the race because he still believes he could become president next year or because he wants to avenge his wounded pride: an ambiguity that suggests the problem with him as a leader. When he led Santorum in the polls, he urged the Pennsylvanian to leave the race. On his own arguments the proper course for him now is to endorse Santorum and exit.
My emphasis.

And yet high-profile conservatives like Sarah Palin continue to flirt with a Gingrich endorsement. One can only wonder at what would happen if Palin did publicly endorse Newt Gingrich...

SNL's Excellent (And Funny) Super Bowl Ad Response

From this past weekend on Saturday Night Live, here is the three-part series of "ads" that respond to the nontroversy over Clint Eastwood's Super Bowl Chrysler advertisement:

#1:



#2:



#3:



These are great. I couldn't have said it better. But theirs are funnier.

12 February 2012

Sunday Morning Music



You are listening to "So In Love With You (Featuring Anthony Hamilton)" from Jill Scott's most recent album Light Of The Sun.

Enjoy your Sunday.

11 February 2012

UPDATE: Mitt Romney Wins CPAC Straw Poll AND Maine Caucus

Via POLITICO:
Mitt Romney has won the Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll with 38 percent of the vote, reported The Washington Times. The Times sponsored the poll along with CPAC.

The poll gauged the level of support for the GOP presidential candidates among influential conservative activists gathered in Washington, D.C., over the last few days.
UPDATE: ... and the AP is now reporting that Mitt Romney has won the Maine caucuses.

All in all, a good day for Mitt Romney.

Saturday Morning Cartoon

Eat your Wheaties -- it's cartoon time!

10 February 2012

Hard Wuerk


M.Wuerker, Wuerking Drawings
Sadly, many many people would fail this 'test' -- people from any political party or ideology. There could just as easily be a donkey in that seat.

Partisan blindness is bi-partisan. Or something.

Oliver North Backs Newt Gingrich


Via The Daily Caller:
“It’s time for us to hire a commander in chief who doesn’t feel necessary to run around the world apologizing for America,” said North.

“I’m deeply concerned that if we don’t hire a new commander in chief… we can indeed end up in very, very serious jeopardy in this country,” he added.

Asked about the foreign policy implications of an Obama re-election, North said, “I don’t even want to entertain the nightmare.”
Head nod: GOP12

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