Partisan Rules and the Agonizing Death of a Functional Republic

My very Republican father and I were talking about the high levels of unemployment and the impact that was having on the deficit and the current problems with Social Security and Medicare.  He was trying to reconcile how long this thing has drug on and why he wasn’t seeing any efforts being made that were similar to what happened during the Great Depression.  He’s no FDR fan either.  Even he had the sense that there were forces that were at work that were preventing a recovery.  I muttered something about partisan politics and he had to agree.  It’s gotten so that beating your opponent takes precedence over what you’re supposed to do once elected. We’re electing people that don’t want our government to work.  They only want to win and spin.

You’ll undoubtedly hear a lot in the upcoming days about Robert Draper’s new book ‘Do Not Ask What Good We Do.’  It’s a book about the Republicans in Congress and their political agenda.  There’s a focus on Tea Party politicians as well as the gang of stubborn white patriarchs.  We knew from the very beginning–as announced almost immediately by Mitch McConnell–that the Republicans were intent on making Obama a one term president.  The book details some very ugly things about the effort. It also details how elected Republican pols have begin to act like an angry mob at times because many have come with their own brand of “kill the beast” that is our Constitutional Republic.  Still, the Draper book does not appear to be about one vast monolithic,  stereotypical Republican right winger as it profiles some of the most controversial members. The anger binds them and divides them in intriguing ways.

At what point does ugly partisanship and sour grapes become such an issue that voters will wake up and vote their own interests for a change?  Why are we such a nation of Angry Birds these days?

As President Barack Obama was celebrating his inauguration at various balls, top Republican lawmakers and strategists were conjuring up ways to submarine his presidency at a private dinner in Washington.

The event — which provides a telling revelation for how quickly the post-election climate soured — serves as the prologue of Robert Draper’s much-discussed and heavily-reported new book, “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives.”

According to Draper, the guest list that night (which was just over 15 people in total) included Republican Reps. Eric Cantor (Va.), Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Paul Ryan (Wis.), Pete Sessions (Texas), Jeb Hensarling (Texas), Pete Hoekstra (Mich.) and Dan Lungren (Calif.), along with Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Ensign (Nev.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.). The non-lawmakers present included Newt Gingrich, several years removed from his presidential campaign, and Frank Luntz, the long-time Republican wordsmith. Notably absent were Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) — who, Draper writes, had an acrimonious relationship with Luntz.

For several hours in the Caucus Room (a high-end D.C. establishment), the book says they plotted out ways to not just win back political power, but to also put the brakes on Obama’s legislative platform.

“If you act like you’re the minority, you’re going to stay in the minority,” Draper quotes McCarthy as saying. “We’ve gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign.”

The conversation got only more specific from there, Draper reports. Kyl suggested going after incoming Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for failing to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes while at the International Monetary Fund. Gingrich noted that House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) had a similar tax problem. McCarthy chimed in to declare “there’s a web” before arguing that Republicans could put pressure on any Democrat who accepted campaign money from Rangel to give it back.

As most of you know, I was not a supporter of candidate Obama.  However, there are no words to express how I feel about the idea of a group of elected officials planning a political coup during some of the worst days of our Republic over what seems like a bunch of partisan sour grapes.  In this tale, there is little care or thought given to the suffering of the country in the grips of a recession and endless, worthless wars.  There is only plotting for personal power.  There are a lot of details about how the election of the Tea Party candidates has led to more problems that make our country look ungovernable and our differences irreconcilable.  In some ways, the Republican take over of the House sandbagged the very people that plotted to make it so.

The anti-big-government zealotry that swept the Republicans into power turned out to be a major obstacle in the debt-ceiling negotiations with the White House. As Eric Cantor told Joe Biden in the talks, the best compromise House Republicans could offer was “giving you a vote on the debt ceiling. You may not think that’s a big deal. But you’ve got to understand, I’ve got a lot of guys that think that not raising the debt ceiling may not be such a bad thing—that in fact it may be just what we need.” Cantor then added wistfully “We’re working hard to educate our guys.”

The House Majority Leader didn’t want to wind up suffering the same fate during the debt ceiling negotiations as the No. 2 House Republican, Roy Blunt, who became a pariah among conservatives for his role in negotiating the details of TARP in 2008. When Cantor saw that he couldn’t bridge the differences between the Republicans and the White House on revenue increases, he backed out of the talks. To avoid blame, Cantor claimed that the Democrats were intending to do the same and he just wanted to preempt them. This “had no basis in fact,” Draper wrote.

Draper profiles many of the strongest Republican Tea Party characters in the book.  This includes Allen West who appears to be completely out of touch with any form of reality as we know it.

Draper profiles firebrands like Florida’s Allen West, a former Army lieutenant colonel who attempts to induce his draconian brand of military discipline on America’s finances and security apparatus. West is also the only Republican member of the Congressional Black Caucus. West comes across as someone whose mouth gets him in trouble (he recently nabbed coverage for labeling 81 of his House colleagues communists, and then got more coverage for refusing to back down from the accusation); his hand-wringing paranoia would have more bite if it weren’t so nostalgic. But in Draper’s reporting, he becomes a surprisingly nuanced person who isn’t afraid to defy the more conservative elements of his base (including a vote clearing the way for that Republican whipping-horse, the Environmental Protection Agency, to clean Florida’s waterways after farmers in his district encouraged him to vote that way).

This may not be one of those books that stands the test of time.  But, we need this kind of hand book right now.  Here’s a headline that will give you some pause: “Dick Lugar trails by 5, poll says”.

Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar has fallen behind state Treasurer Richard Mourdock by five points, according to a new poll released Thursday.
The survey, taken Tuesday and Wednesday by Wenzel Strategies on behalf of Citizens United, places Mourdock at 44 percent and Lugar at 39 percent. Nearly 17 percent remain undecided with just 12 days to go until the Indiana Senate primary.

Citizens United is backing Mourdock in the May 8 contest.

Wenzel found that Mourdock’s lead is powered by self-described tea party conservatives, who comprise 36 percent of the GOP electorate.

Among that group of voters, Mourdock holds a commanding 63 percent to 24 percent lead. Lugar’s ability to keep the race close is due to moderates and traditional conservatives, which both favor the incumbent, according to Wenzel.

It seems like we had the birth of our nation in the Age of Reason and we may experience our death throes in the Age of the Angry Mob.


Thursday Reads

North Dakota Badlands--where I'd like to be this morning

Good Morning!!

Like JJ, I’m a little sick of the political news these days. Plus I’m a little under the weather with a cold, so please be patient if I don’t make a whole lot of sense today.

I heard a little of Mitt Romney’s victory speech on Tuesday night, and when I got up yesterday I decided to read the transcript. The speech was every bit as vapid as I remembered.

There is not one specific policy mentioned in the speech, just attacks on Obama and promises that no one could fulfill. Romney begins by playing to the people he has been disrespecting throughout the primaries:

For every single mom who feels heartbroken when she has to explain to her kids that she needs to take a second job … for grandparents who can’t afford the gas to visit their grandchildren … for the mom and dad who never thought they’d be on food stamps … for the small business owner desperately cutting back just to keep the doors open one more month – to all of the thousands of good and decent Americans I’ve met who want nothing more than a better chance, a fighting chance, to all of you, I have a simple message: Hold on a little longer. A better America begins tonight.

Really? A better America with no employer-provided health care, no Social Security, no Medicare, no Planned Parenthood? Romney claims that his “success in business” has taught him how to create jobs and build a booming economy (Even though his business was buying up successful companies and bleeding them dry. And even though he didn’t do those things when he was Governor of Massachusetts.)

…you might have heard that I was successful in business. And that rumor is true. But you might not have heard that I became successful by helping start a business that grew from 10 people to hundreds of people. You might not have heard that our business helped start other businesses, like Staples and Sports Authority and a new steel mill and a learning center called Bright Horizons. And I’d tell you that not every business made it and there were good days and bad days, but every day was a lesson. And after 25 years, I know how to lead us out of this stagnant Obama economy and into a job-creating recovery!

Really? The only thing I’ve heard him recommend is tax cuts for rich people and more austerity for the rest of us. What am I missing? Then he asks the Reagan question–are you better off now than you were back in 2008?

what do we have to show for three and a half years of President Obama?

Is it easier to make ends meet? Is it easier to sell your home or buy a new one? Have you saved what you needed for retirement? Are you making more in your job? Do you have a better chance to get a better job? Do you pay less at the pump?

If the answer were “yes” to those questions, then President Obama would be running for re-election based on his achievements…and rightly so. But because he has failed, he will run a campaign of diversions, distractions, and distortions. That kind of campaign may have worked at another place and in a different time. But not here and not now. It’s still about the economy …and we’re not stupid.

At least Romney seems to have found a better speechwriter, but as Ezra Klein points out:

Three and a half years ago…Barack Obama wasn’t yet president. The date was Oct. 25, 2008, and Obama hadn’t even won the election yet, much less taken office.

The National Bureau of Economic Research says the recession officially began in December 2007. The worst of it came in the fourth quarter of 2008. Obama was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2009. The time frame Romney chose, in other words, thrusts the very worst of the recession into Obama’s lap despite the fact that he wasn’t even president yet. It’s like blaming a fireman for the damage the blaze did before he arrived.

As Klein says, the real question should be “are you better off now than you would have been had Mitt Romney been president?” Romney claims Obama wants the government to control our lives.

This President is putting us on a path where our lives will be ruled by bureaucrats and boards, commissions and czars. He’s asking us to accept that Washington knows best – and can provide all.

We’ve already seen where this path leads. It erodes freedom. It deadens the entrepreneurial spirit. And it hurts the very people it’s supposed to help. Those who promise to spread the wealth around only ever succeed in spreading poverty. Other nations have chosen that path. It leads to chronic high unemployment, crushing debt, and stagnant wages.

I have a very different vision for America, and of our future. It is an America driven by freedom, where free people, pursuing happiness in their own unique ways, create free enterprises that employ more and more Americans. Because there are so many enterprises that are succeeding, the competition for hard-working, educated and skilled employees is intense, and so wages and salaries rise.

I see an America with a growing middle class, with rising standards of living. I see children even more successful than their parents – some successful even beyond their wildest dreams – and others congratulating them for their achievement, not attacking them for it.

That last part is what Romney seems to really need–adoration for his achievement of getting rich at the expense of all the little people who were driven out of work and into bankruptcy while Romney headed Bain Capital. Other than that, it sounds like he’s talking about the Eisenhower-Kennedy years–except in that economy the wealthy and corporations paid their fair share of taxes.

I don’t think Romney has made his case to be President, unless people just want to vote for him because he “loves America.”

The Romney campaign is synchronizing it’s work with the Republican National Committee, so I wonder if this idea came from the campaign or the RNC: Republican National Committee Files Complaint Over Obama Travel

The Republican National Committee has filed an official complaint with the Government Accountability Office over President Barack Obama’s use of official resources for campaign travel.

In a letter to the watchdog agency, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus writes to call attention “to a case of misuse of government funds benefitting “Obama for America” (OFA), otherwise known as the president’s reelection campaign.”

Priebus pointed to Obama’s current trip to North Carolina, Colorado, and Iowa — three battleground states — to discuss extending lower interest rates on student loans as examples of this tax-payer funded campaign travel.

“One might imagine that if this were genuinely a government event he might have stopped in a non-battleground state like Texas or Vermont,” Priebus said.

“This President and Air Force One seem to have a magic magnet that only seem to land in battleground states in this country,” Priebus told reporters earlier Wednesday before the complaint was drafted.

And so on… The GAO replied to a request from Buzzfeed:

GAO Spokesman Charles Young told BuzzFeed that the watchdog agency has yet to receive the RNC letter. “But we conduct our work at the request of the Congress.”

That was a pretty good slapdown. I seem to recall George W. Bush making a lot of speeches in swing states back in 2004. I wonder if Priebus was upset about that too? Geeze.

Vanity Fair has posted video of a memorial service held for Christopher Hitchens on April 20th. Hitchens died on December 15, 2011. In his honor, I’d like to quote from one of his Slate pieces that is very relevant to the 2012 presidential race: Mitt Romney and the weird and sinister beliefs of Mormonism.

The founder of the church, one Joseph Smith, was a fraud and conjurer well known to the authorities of upstate New York. He claimed to have been shown some gold plates on which a new revelation was inscribed in no known language. He then qualified as the sole translator of this language. (The entire story is related in Fawn Brodie’s biography, No Man Knows My History.* It seems that we can add, to sausages and laws, churches as a phenomenon that is not pleasant to watch at the manufacturing stage. Edmund Wilson wrote that it was powerfully shocking to see Brodie as she exposed a religion that was a whole-cloth fabrication.) On his later forays into the chartless wilderness, there to play the role of Moses to his followers (who were permitted and even encouraged in plural marriage, so as to go forth and mass-produce little Mormons), Smith also announced that he wanted to be known as the Prophet Muhammad of North America, with the fearsome slogan: “Either al-Koran or the Sword.” He levied war against his fellow citizens, and against the federal government. One might have thought that this alone would raise some eyebrows down at the local Baptist Church.

Saddling itself with some pro-slavery views at the time of the Civil War, and also with a “bible” of its own that referred to black people as a special but inferior creation, the Mormon Church did not admit black Americans to the priesthood until 1978, which is late enough—in point of the sincerity of the “revelation” they had to undergo—to cast serious doubt on the sincerity of their change of heart.

Read the rest at the link and see if you think Romney’s religion is relevant. Ross Douthat is concerned about it.

I’m going to wrap this up, because I’m really not feeling well, but I want to share a story with you from Boston. It’s a week or so old, but still worth highlighting: ‘She-Hulk’ collars alleged T creep after lewd act. It’s a about a young woman (who didn’t want her name used) riding the MBTA, minding her own business and then suddenly finding herself the object of–to put it mildly–unwanted attention.

“This guy was just being a real creeper,” she said. As she shuffled along the train, he followed her. She zoned out, listening to music, only to look up and see him standing over her.

“I looked up and felt awkward, so I looked down,” she said. She said the man was exposing and touching himself, but tried to cover himself with his shirt.

The woman — not someone to meekly let an alleged creep get away with it — shouted out what he was doing, but no one stepped in to help. She said one male passenger even shrugged. So, she said, she went into “She-Hulk” mode, lunging as the man tried to bolt at Packard’s Corner in Brighton.

She said she held the man with one hand and “berated” him while she waited for the cops to arrive. She said he looked frightened.

“He kept saying sorry, but he was just sorry for himself,” she said.

The Boston Globe had an account of the arrest of the perp, Michael Galvin, 37, of Hudson St. in Somerville.

Officers found Galvin being dragged by his apparent victim, who grabbed him by his sweatshirt as he attempted to leave the train at the stop….When she caught up to him, he allegedly said, “I think I need help, I think something is wrong with me.” The woman held him until police arrived, according to an MBTA Transit Police report released by the agency.

Police arrived and spoke to Galvin, who said his shorts fell down accidentally on the packed and jostling train, the report said.

But the woman told a different story. Galvin allegedly approached her slowly on the crowded train. She told officers that she “got a weird vibe from the guy and tried to move away but couldn’t because the trolley was so packed.”

When Galvin was near her and she looked down, she said she saw that his shorts were pulled down “just enough to have his penis exposed, and he was stroking it.”

It’s just one small win for women, but a very satisfying one, IMHO.

So what are you reading and blogging about today?


Wednesday Evening Reads: Great Tits and Newt Gingrich

Oh boy…just a warning, tonight’s post is going to be infantile.

Good Evening!

Did you hear the news today? Newt is out! (And yes, that title is a bit tongue in cheek. The Great Tits I am talking about are song birds, more on that later. And yes, that title is in reference to T & A meaning Newt is the ass.)

Okay, on with the show:

The big story tonight is from the Supreme Court…and the apparent favoring of Arizona’s argument regarding Immigration. I know that Dakinikat has a post up about this, but I wanted to cite a couple quotes from the NYT article she linked to:

Considering Arizona Immigration Law, Justices Are Again in Political Storm -

Justices across the ideological spectrum appeared inclined to uphold a controversial part of Arizona’s aggressive 2010 immigration law, based on their questions on Wednesday at a Supreme Court argument.

“You can see it’s not selling very well,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a member of the court’s liberal wing and its first Hispanic justice, told Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., referring to a central part of his argument.

Mr. Verrilli, representing the federal government, had urged the court to strike down part of the law requiring state law enforcement officials to determine the immigration status of anyone they stop if the officials have reason to believe that the person might be an illegal immigrant.

“Why don’t you try to come up with something else?” Justice Sotomayor asked Mr. Verrilli.

Damn, that is not a good sign for those of us who believe this Arizona Immigration law takes things way to far into the danger zone. However,

Should the court uphold any part of the law, immigration groups are likely to challenge it based on an argument not before that court on Wednesday — that the law discriminates on the basis of race and ethnic background.

Indeed, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. made clear that the case, like last month’s arguments over President Obama’s health care law, was about the allocation of state and federal power.

“No part of your argument has to do with racial or ethnic profiling, does it?” the chief justice asked Mr. Verrilli, who agreed.

Should the court uphold most or all of the Arizona law or strike down the heart of the health care law, it would represent a political blow to President Obama in the final stretch of the campaign season. The health care decision is also expected by June.

Wednesday’s argument, the last of the term, was a rematch between the main lawyers in last month’s case. Paul D. Clement, who argued for the 26 states challenging the health care law, represented Arizona. Mr. Verrilli again represented the federal government. In an unusual move, Chief Justice Roberts allowed the argument to go 20 minutes longer than the usual hour.

But one thing is certain, Verrilli, who is the same lawyer that argued the Health Care case…and we saw what a blunder that performance was, Verrilli seems to have stumbled again today.

Mr. Verrilli, whose performance in the health care case was sometimes rocky, seemed on Wednesday occasionally to frustrate justices who might have seemed likely allies.

At one point Justice Sotomayor, addressing Mr. Verrilli by his title, said: “General, I’m terribly confused by your answer. O.K.? And I don’t know that you’re focusing in on what I believe my colleagues are trying to get to.”

Wow. You know, a lawyer arguing before the SCOTUS…that is like the top achievement of a career. You got to prepare for this sort of thing. That this  lawyer came unprepared or ill-equipped to handle such a demanding hearing, twice, makes me wonder…WTF?

Anyway, the “remarks” are something to read, some of them sound very annoyed, check it out.

Reuters has an article discussing some background on Zimmerman: George Zimmerman: Prelude to a shooting

A pit bull named Big Boi began menacing George and Shellie Zimmerman in the fall of 2009.

The first time the dog ran free and cornered Shellie in their gated community in Sanford, Florida, George called the owner to complain. The second time, Big Boi frightened his mother-in-law’s dog. Zimmerman called Seminole County Animal Services and bought pepper spray. The third time he saw the dog on the loose, he called again. An officer came to the house, county records show.

“Don’t use pepper spray,” he told the Zimmermans, according to a friend. “It’ll take two or three seconds to take effect, but a quarter second for the dog to jump you,” he said.

“Get a gun.”

I urge you to read this article, just a couple more teaser paragraphs:

During the time Zimmerman was in hiding, his detractors defined him as a vigilante who had decided Martin was suspicious merely because he was black. After Zimmerman was finally arrested on a charge of second-degree murder more than six weeks after the shooting, prosecutors portrayed him as a violent and angry man who disregarded authority by pursuing the 17-year-old.

But a more nuanced portrait of Zimmerman has emerged from a Reuters investigation into Zimmerman’s past and a series of incidents in the community in the months preceding the Martin shooting.

Based on extensive interviews with relatives, friends, neighbors, schoolmates and co-workers of Zimmerman in two states, law enforcement officials, and reviews of court documents and police reports, the story sheds new light on the man at the center of one of the most controversial homicide cases in America.

This next link made me think of Ralph, one of our regular readers and commenters. He has followed the countdown of Atrios “Wanker of the Decade.” This is a summary plus, you might say, of the winner of this Wanker award:  10 of Thomas Friedman’s Dumbest “Big Ideas” | Media | AlterNet

In conferring the honor of “Wanker of the Decade” on New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman, blogger Duncan Black observed that “truly great wankers possess a kind of glib narcissism, the belief that everything is about them while simultaneously disavowing any responsibility for anything.” The sorry “state of the world is what it is,” Black continued, “in large part because people in positions of great power think this absurd buffoon of man is a Very Serious Person.”

Wow, some of the stuff Friedman has said is f’d up! I mean, I knew the guy was “wanker” extraordinaire, but some of his articles from the early and middle 90′s are way out there. Read that link to see what I mean.

Now a couple cartoons to pass the time before the Great Tit article.

4/26 Mike Luckovich cartoon: Gingrich bows out | Mike Luckovich

Yes both from Luckovich…

4/25 Mike Luckovich cartoon: Global warming | Mike Luckovich

Now, it is with great pleasure that I present to you the headline that made me spit my green coffee this morning…- Great tits join mobs with neighbours they know

Oh, it gets better…

Great tits in nestbox (c) Chris Perrins Great tits with familiar neighbours successfully raise more chicks
Like many birds, great tits are protective parents, often putting themselves at risk to mob predators that threaten their chicks.

A study has now shown that they will join anti-predator mobs if they hear alarm calls from birds they know well.

Scientists found that the birds would “join in” defensive mobs that were instigated by neighbouring birds they were familiar with.

The findings are published in the journal Biology Letters.

“Joint mobbing” – birds ganging up to fend off predators – has been seen in many bird species.

But the researchers were particularly interested in the phenomenon in great tits because, in their previous work, they noticed that the birds’ lives were affected by the birds they lived next door to.

Oh, there is nothing like joint mobbing from a group of great tits…believe me, when great tits feel the things they care about are in danger…they get protective and form anti-PLUB mobs….oops, I mean anti-predator mobs. And when these Great Tits gang up and help their neighbors to fight against the predator GOP politician, oops I did it again…I mean perceived dangerous predator…watch out!

Well, think of this as an open thread/evening reads…and post whatever you want!


Tuesday Night with Ann and Mitt

Good Evening everyone!

Tonight’s post is dedicated to Ann and Mitt Romney. I have some more background on Ann Romney’s “struggles,” as a follow up to Dakinikat’s earlier post. And, since Mitt Romney will essentially wrap up the Republican presidential nomination tonight, I’ve collected some advice for Mitt Romney from various sources.

As everyone knows by now, Ann Romney is a stay-at-home mom. And she has lots of homes to stay at home in. But Ann is more than a mom. She has a hobby that is very important to her. A very expensive hobby. Her passion is collecting and riding dressage horses.

Now I don’t want to be cruel about Ann’s expensive hobby, because she says it has helped her to deal with her multiple sclerosis; but, let’s face it, very few multiple sclerosis sufferers can afford the Ann Romney cure.

After the notorious Hilary Rosen remark about Ann Romney not working a day in her life, Dave Weigel wrote a piece called The Ann Romney Wars, in which he linked to some articles about Ann’s hobby. I hadn’t heard about it before.

First up, a NYT piece by Jodi Kantor from 2007: The Stay-at-Home Woman Travels Well. Kantor writes about Ann’s diagnosis with multiple sclerosis in 1998 and her efforts to treat the disease.

Though she used steroids to combat her initial attack, today Mrs. Romney takes no medicine for her disease, instead relying on alternative therapies such as horseback riding — she calls it “joy therapy”— to keep herself well. But doctors say that only medication, which patients often resist because of unpleasant side effects, slows the long-term progress of the disease.

Ann had ridden horses as a child–like her husband, she comes from a wealthy family.

During her rehabilitation from her initial attack, she took up dressage, going from a novice so weak that she could barely sit in the saddle to a winner of top amateur medals. She sometimes enters professional-level contests, against the advice of her trainer, Jan Ebeling. “She wants to measure herself against the best,” he said.

Dressage is a sport of seven-figure horses and four-figure saddles. The monthly boarding costs are more than most people’s rent. Asked how many dressage horses she owns, Mrs. Romney laughed. “Mitt doesn’t even know the answer to that,” she said. “I’m not going to tell you!”

Ann Romney in 2008

For more detail on Ann’s dressage career, read this article from 2008: Dressage Makes Ann Romney’s Soul Sing. And here’s a more recent article from March, 2012: For Ann Romney, Horses are a Lifeline.

She has competed in amateur rounds of major dressage tournaments. She has funded dressage horses and riders of Olympic caliber. She and her husband, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, have at least part-ownership of four warmbloods (as the kind of horse often used for dressage is known), according to a campaign spokeswoman.

“My horses rejuvenate me like you can’t believe” she told Fox News last week. “They give me balance. They give me energy. I think it’s because I love them so much.”

How nice for her.

Dressage demands agility and finesse — and money….Dressage, whose roots date to ancient Greece, got its name (and its pronunciation, dress-AHGE) from a French term that means “training.” According to the U.S. Dressage Federation, “its purpose is to develop the horse’s natural athletic ability and willingness to work making him calm, supple and attentive to his rider.” Unlike other types of holdings, dressage horses are living investments whose value can tumble with the wrong turn of a hoof.

The Romneys, through a campaign aide, declined to tally how much they spend on dressage, saying, “We are not required to disclose this information.” But some of their animals cost more than $100,000, and the Romneys continue to sink tens of thousands of dollars into year-round training and feeding, plus veterinary bills.

Ann learned how to use horseback riding for healing at a very exclusive clinic

run by an accomplished trainer and German emigre named Jan Ebeling, owner of state-of-the-art stables north of Simi Valley at a ranch known as the Acres. Ebeling and his wife, Amy, hosted Romney often. “I would probably come out once a month to once every six weeks for about a week,” Romney recalled.

The Acres is home to a 40-stall barn, indoor arena, dressage ring and obstacle courses. There are steep and dusty trails on the state-owned acreage nearby. Trusted James Herriot-type veterinarians and farriers and a young German assistant tend to the animals and take them through their paces; other horses, nursing injuries or strains, are pampered in the barn.

On Ann’s birthday, Donald Trump threw a party for her and provided a cake that celebrated her love of horses and dressage.

The cake, created by celebrity chef Buddy Valastro, of the TV show “Cake Boss,” is topped with a sugar-coated Romney riding atop a horse standing in a field of green frosting. Romney is an avid horseback rider and often goes riding to soothe the symptoms of her multiple sclerosis.

These two people really are not like you and me. Is it so cruel to point that out? I really do have a hard time feeling sorry for Ann. She and Mitt desperately need to learn how to deal with the wealth issue. At HuffPo, English professor Mark Cassello offered some free advice:

It is not Romney’s wealth that makes him unable to relate. It is his incapacity to acknowledge the privileged position from which he began. It is admirable that he worked his way up from being an “entry level” consultant to an executive in the Boston Consulting Group. Unfortunately, this achievement will not resonate with the real grinders who build, fuel, and deliver America. For them, being a consultant is as foreign an experience as choosing a car elevator for a new house in La Jolla.

If the question about being too rich to relate is asked again (and it will be), Romney should answer this way: “I understand why people might feel that way about me. Most Americans do not have parents who are governors or corporate executives. I was born in a very fortunate financial situation. But the more important, and more American, story is how my family labored for generations to provide me with the opportunities that have blessed my life. As president, I want to bring opportunity to a new generation of Americans, so they will feel empowered to pursue the dreams they have for their families and for their communities.”

It’s good advice, but somehow, I just can’t imagine Romney having the humility to say something like that.

Charles Pierce, who knows the Romneys better than most journalists, offered some suggestions for Romney on his path to dumping the Tea Partiers and tacking away from the far right agenda he’s been pushing during the primaries. Unfortunately, I can’t quote the whole thing, but here’s a taste:

God, you people are saps. You didn’t see this coming? I pandered and I pandered, and then, every night, I went back to my hotel room, stuck my fingers down my throat, and then had a good laugh. You think that whole “Etch-a-Sketch” thing was a staff blunder? Honkies, please. Could I have signaled more clearly that your audience with me was over? Smedley? Show these lovely people waving their Bibles and their rubber fetuses the door, will you? Lovely to have met you. Really. We must do this again some time. Say, if we’re all really lucky, and I’ve always been luckier than you poor deluded hayshakers, maybe the summer of 2015? It’s a date. We have a lovely parting gift for you.

Me.

Haven’t you goobers caught on yet? I am running for president because I am supposed to be president. That is the essence of my political philosophy. That is the basic tenet of my fundamental ideology. I should be president because I am rich and handsome and my great-granchildren are already financially bulletproof to the point where, if my pals in the financial-services “industry” crash the economy completely, and animal hides become the medium of exchange again, my great-grandchildren will have more pelts than anyone else, and they will rule the world. I should be president because I should be president. And because…

I’m Mitt Romney, bitches, and I’m all you got left.

Now that’s more like it! There’s lots more at the link.


Monday Evening Reads: Bill Clinton’s Advice, Romney and Rubio, George Zimmerman, and Stupid Republicans

Good Evening! It hasn’t been a particularly busy news day, but I have a few updates for you tonight.

According to Politico, the Obama campaign is changing it’s attacks on Mitt Romney based on some suggestions from Bill Clinton. The original approach was to paint Romney as a man without a moral or ideological “core.” Clinton, according to Politico argued that it would be better to focus on

Romney’s description of himself as a “severe conservative,” to deny him any chance to tack back to the center, according to three Democrats close to the situation.

“[Clinton] said he thought Romney’s positions on the issues would ultimately be the best way to attack him,” said a Democrat briefed on the details of an amiable Nov. 9 meeting in Clinton’s Harlem office that included Axelrod, Democratic National Committee Executive Director Patrick Gaspard and Obama campaign manager Jim Messina.

“That’s what we are doing, but it doesn’t mean we can’t and shouldn’t do the etch-a-sketch, flip-flop moments when they occur and we will,” added the operative — who says Obama’s campaign likely would have emphasized Romney’s conservative tilt once the primary was over, anyway.

But Clinton’s advice, buttressed by Benenson’s polling, has clearly gained traction internally since the end of Romney’s four-month primary ordeal.

Well, I can’t imagine a more expert political consultant than Bill Clinton, can you?

A new report from the Pew Hispanic Center shows that the number of illegal immigrants coming from Mexico has been falling because of the lack of jobs in the U.S. NY Daily News:

Roughly 6.1 million unauthorized Mexican immigrants were living in the U.S. last year, down from a peak of nearly 7 million in 2007, according to the Pew Hispanic Center study released Monday. It was the biggest sustained drop in modern history, believed to be surpassed in scale only by losses in the Mexican-born U.S. population during the Great Depression.

Much of the drop in illegal immigrants is due to the persistently weak U.S. economy, which has shrunk construction and service-sector jobs attractive to Mexican workers following the housing bust. But increased deportations, heightened U.S. patrols and violence along the border also have played a role, as well as demographic changes, such as Mexico’s declining birth rate.

In all, the Mexican-born population in the U.S. last year — legal and illegal — fell to 12 million, marking an end to an immigration boom dating back to the 1970s, when foreign-born residents from Mexico stood at 760,000. The 2007 peak was 12.6 million.

The New York and Pennsylvania primaries will be held tomorrow, but there isn’t much excitement about them anymore. Other states voting tomorrow are Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island.

In Pennsylvania, Romney was campaigning with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

Without overshadowing Romney, Rubio on Monday hammered home the former Massachusetts governor’s position on Iran and helped Romney attack President Barack Obama’s energy policy.

In a brief question-and-answer session with reporters, Romney said he’d consider Rubio’s immigration proposal to find a way to allow young people who came to the country illegally as children to stay here if they’re in school or the military.

It sounds like the Obama campaign should get busy pinning Romney down on the cruel immigration policy he has been pushing throughout the primaries.

Romney also tried to appeal to younger voters by joining Obama in backing a bill to prevent doubling of student loan interest rates.

ASTON, Pa. — As the White House ramps up its push to woo young voters by urging Congress to head off a scheduled increase in student loan interest rates, GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney struck back Monday, throwing his support behind an extension of the current rates at a campaign event outside Philadelphia.

The former Massachusetts governor made the announcement at a press availability with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, the first joint appearance of Romney and the Florida Republican whose name is often floated as a top choice for his running mate.

“There’s one thing that I wanted to mention, that I forgot to mention at the very beginning, and that was that particularly with the number of college graduates that can’t find work or that can only find work well beneath their skill level, I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans,” Romney said at the end of a seven-minute joint news conference with Rubio.

I have a few updates on the Trayvon Martin case. At one minute after midnight, George Zimmerman was let out of jail after posting bail. He will be going to a undisclosed location, reportedly outside of Florida.

Wherever George Zimmerman went after he was released on bond from a Florida jail, a sensitive GPS device will pinpoint his location for authorities and alert them if he drifts even a few feet away from where he is allowed.

Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, went into hiding Monday as he awaits trial. He must pay an $8-a-day fee to use the device, which is generally used to track people charged in domestic violence cases.

George Zimmerman leaves Seminole County Jail with unidentified man

According to the WaPo,

Local bail bondsmen whose clients have worn the same device used to pinpoint Zimmerman said it is highly sensitive and can send messages to authorities in real-time….

Seminole County Sheriff’s officials are offering few details on how Zimmerman will be specifically monitored, other than to say the device he is wearing has the same 24/7 capabilities it uses to track accused domestic violence offenders. Zimmerman may be residing outside of Florida for safety reasons.

The monitoring program has been in use since 2003 in Seminole and provides “real-time monitoring of an offender’s movements and is capable of monitoring anywhere in the U.S.,” according to a sheriff’s office news release.

Later this morning, Sanford, FL police chief Bill Lee, who has been on leave with pay, submitted his final resignation; but the move was rejected by the Sanford city commissioners at a hastily-called meeting.

Earlier Monday, the city announced in a statement that a separation agreement had been reached with Lee to resign. If it was approved by the City Commission, it would have taken effect at midnight.

But by a 3-2 vote, the commission opted not to accept the proposed deal, which would have permanently dismissed Lee from the job and given him a severance package. Two commissioners had questioned the fairness of Lee losing his job, while Mayor Jeff Triplett said he preferred to wait possibly several months for the results of an investigation into Lee and his department….

Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for Martin’s family, criticized the commission for not letting Lee step down.

“Sanford residents deserve quality leadership in law enforcement who will handle investigations fairly for all people,” he said. “If Chief Bill Lee recognized that his resignation would help start the healing process in Sanford, city leadership should have accepted it in an effort to move the city forward.”

Sanford City Manager Norton N. Bonaparte had supported the resignation.

Benjamin Crump also criticized George Zimmerman and his defense attorneys over a photo of Zimmerman’s head with two small cuts with blood coming out of them.

An attorney for Trayvon Martin’s family believes their son’s shooter is lying about injuries he sustained the night he killed the unarmed 17-year-old.

“If this is any indication of what’s to come, then the lying has already begun,” attorney Ben Crump told reporters on Sunday, while promoting a documentary at the Florida Film Festival on another case….

“When you look at those pictures and you see those two little cuts on his head, that is not consistent with your head being pounded into the pavement,” said Crump. “Objective evidence, evidence we can see and touch, is more important than whatever George Zimmerman says because we have to remember Trayvon Martin isn’t here to tell us his version of what happened.”

Crump pointed to the 911 call where someone is heard screaming before the fatal gunshot.

Democrats in Congress have been pushing for reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, but Texas Sen. John Cornyn says that Democrats are just trying to ‘score cheap political points.’ with their efforts to renew the bill.

Republicans oppose the current reauthorization bill because it would allow battered undocumented immigrants to claim temporary visas, and expand protections to same sex couples and Native American tribes.

All eight Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against renewing the law and Democrats were quick to denounce them, linking their opposition to the bill to the so-called “war on women.”

“The law was enacted to protect and serve the interests of crime victims, not to help a political party fire up its base,” Cornyn continue. “Moreover, to argue that a minor policy disagreement indicates a lack of sensitivity toward battered women is simply beyond the pale.”

In Missouri, a Republican woman who is running for the senate against current Sen. Claire McCaskill says she is “not sure” what the Violence Against Women Act is.

Former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, a Republican now hoping to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), said recently that she was unfamiliar with the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the landmark anti-domestic violence legislation whose re-authorization is now stalled in the Senate….

A video released today by the Missouri Democratic Party shows a man asking Steelman about VAWA at a campaign event. Steelman replies, “I’m not sure what that is because I’m not serving right now.” He asks again, “you haven’t really heard about it?” And she confirms, “no, not really.”

The John Edwards trial has been getting a lot of attention today too. Chris Cillizza calls it a “final public flogging.”

What stories have you been following today?


Ya Think? The impact of Republican Extremism

The amazingly, huge gender gap and the obvious lack of support by Hispanic Americans for Romney and other Republicans is troubling the party’s establishment. Republicans have also lost the vote of young people who don’t understand why state officials are obsessed with every one’s personal sex life.  Republicans have been denying the party has escalated their attempts to eradicate women’s constitutional rights to abortion but the number of laws introduced by states in the last two years has been monumental.  They have moved to directly attacking other women’s preventative health services like birth control access and funding of Planned Parenthood.   They’ve passed laws that allow law enforcement to stop folks on the street based on no other reason than they might possibly “look” illegal and demand proof of citizenship.  They’ve chipped away at labor bargaining rights, citizen voting access, and science education by supporting bogus religious-based claims on climate change and evolution. They’ve tried everything possible to deny basic civil rights to GLBT Americans by passing laws that use a purely religious definition of marriage and parenthood.

In the last two years, there’s been a surge in legislation that seems squarely aimed at inserting religious dogma into law and enacting privatization schemes for prisons, schools, and all levels of public services.  There’s also been noticeable defunding of public education and public health access.   They’ve insisted they’ve been focused on the economy.  However, even there, the sole focus appears to be taxing poor people, providing tax breaks to the rich and corporations, and decimating public services at all levels of government.  The nation’s infrastructure has never been in worse shape.  It’s at the point where it’s not only dangerous but it threatens our commercial competitiveness.  Our transportation, telecommunications and power infrastructures are antiquated and falling apart.

So, now they are scrambling to get back to an “economic” message to ramrod right wing panderer Willard Romney into the White House.  They think we’re all stupid and we’re going to forget two years of legislation aimed at driving us back into the dark ages.

Here’s a snippet of a NYT article that catches the party elite grumbling about state efforts to turn the country into something that resembles a theocratic, corporate state.  Considering they’ve gotten in bed with these reactionaries to win elections in the past, they really shouldn’t grumble now that the party’s been purged of all but the most extreme.

But this year, with the nation heading into the heart of a presidential race and voters consumed by the country’s economic woes, much of the debate in statehouses has centered on social issues.

Tennessee enacted a law this month intended to protect teachers who question the theory of evolution. Arizona moved to ban nearly all abortions after 20 weeks, and Mississippi imposed regulations that could close the state’s only abortion clinic. Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin signed a law allowing the state’s public schools to teach about abstinence instead of contraception.

The recent flurry of socially conservative legislation, on issues ranging from expanding gun rights to placing new restrictions on abortion, comes as Republicans at the national level are eager to refocus attention on economic issues.

Some Republican strategists and officials, reluctant to be identified because they do not want to publicly antagonize the party’s base, fear that the attention these divisive social issues are receiving at the state level could harm the party’s chances in November, when its hopes of winning back the White House will most likely rest with independent voters in a handful of swing states.

One seasoned strategist called the problem potentially huge.

Read the rest of this entry »


Wednesday Reads: Of the Little Poodle and the Honky Cat

From Designer Will Bradley, click image for link.

Good morning!

It is so nice to be back, albeit in limited capacity, I will be writing my Wednesday and Sunday morning post…eventually, in a week or so, I will also be posting the daily evening reads.  Getting back into the swing of things is a bit daunting, it has been a week since my surgery and there is still more healing to be done.

I don’t know about you, but there are a few books that I always read over and over again. Gone With The Wind, is one…ever since I first read the entire book when I was in third grade. Another is A Confederacy of Dunces, which is where I get my blog handle, Minkoff Minx, from…I love that damn book.

So as I have been recovering from surgery, I have read a lot. I’ve started a book The River of Lost Footsteps: Histories of Burma, written by Thant Myint-U, which is actually quite an interesting read. I also have worked through a few Letters from Burma, written by Aung San Suu Kyi. But when the Lortab 10 starts to kick in, and I am just too out of it to actually digest what I am reading, I have turned once again to the magnificent Ignatius J. Reilly.

John Kennedy Toole was such an amazing writer. I wanted to share a bit with you. The following quotes from the book actually say a lot about why I chose the name Minkoff Minx, check it out…from a page out of Ignatius’ “Journal of a Working Boy” where he describes Myrna Minkoff…the Minkoff Minx:

(Myrna was decidedly masochistic. She was only happy when a police dog was sinking its fangs into her black leotards or when she was being dragged feet first down stone steps from a Senate hearing.)
[…]
Myrna is very sincere; unfortunately, she is also offensive.
[…]
At the moment that little musky Minkoff minx is probably in some tunnel far beneath the streets of the Bronx speeding in a subway train from a meeting on social protest to an orgy of folksinging or worse. Someday the authorities of our society will no doubt apprehend her for simply being herself. Incarceration will finally make her life meaningful and end her frustration.

Gotta love it!

You may be asking yourself why I am even mentioning this…well I have decided to step away from the anonymity of my alias, Minkoff Minx, and embrace writing under my maiden name, JJ Lopez.  It is something I have thought about for a while now…I have a lot of opinions, and it is about time I own them.

So, just like Myrna, I am very sincere, however…there are times I will be offensive to some…my response is this: I am just being who I am, and I have to express how I feel. Simple as that.

Alrighty then…let’s get to the morning headlines!

Big news in the GOP race, Frothy Dick aka Rick Santorum pulls out…finally!

(Okay, I know…it is a cheesy remark, but damn…we are losing our punchline “Santorum” Dick of the GOP…so might as well end it with a frothy comment. Okay, now get me that “santorum” towel and we’ll just clean this up…)

Santorum Suspends Presidential Campaign -

Rick Santorum suspended his presidential campaign on Tuesday, bowing to the inevitability of Mitt Romney’s nomination and ending his improbable, come-from-behind quest to become the party’s conservative standard-bearer in the fall.

“We made a decision over the weekend, that while this presidential race for us is over, for me, and we will suspend our campaign today, we are not done fighting,” Mr. Santorum said.

In other big news, George Zimmerman is no longer receiving “legal advice” from his lawyers…yup, Georgie Boy’s attorneys have withdrawn from counsel:

Exclusive: Trayvon Martin’s Family’s Attorney Responds as Zimmerman’s Lawyers Withdraw Counsel

Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig, the lawyers who have been speaking for and providing legal representation for George Zimmerman withdrew as his counsel Tuesday after citing poor communication with him and other factors in their decision. “We are withdrawing as counsel for Mr. Zimmerman,” said Sonner. “We have lost contact with him.”

They do not know where he is, but they know he is no longer in the State of Florida.

Trayvon Martin George Zimmerman press conference: Trayvon Martin: Attorneys say Zimmerman contacted prosecutor, Sean Hannity

The lawyers had been publicly representing Zimmerman, the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, in the media as calls for his arrest continue to grow.

But they said Tuesday that Zimmerman — who, they say, has left the state — has stopped answering their phone calls, and has made a series of decisions that the two lawyers would not have advised.

The lawyers said Zimmerman called Sean Hannity of Fox News without consulting them. He also called the special prosecutor in the case, something the attorneys said they’d never have told him to do.

“We were a bit astonished,” Uhrig said. He praised Special Prosecutor Angela Corey’s office for declining to speak with Zimmerman without legal counsel.

Asked about Hannity’s interactions with Zimmerman, a Fox News Channel spokeswoman said the issue “will be addressed on Hannity’s show tonight.” The show, “Hannity,” airs at 9 p.m.

Here is the Hannity video from last night…Sean Hannity Confirms He Spoke To George Zimmerman, Agreed Not To Report On Conversation | Mediaite

Boston Boomer thinks it is all over for George now that he has had this contact with Hannity. I hope so, I mean, you would think that website of his was enough to put the shooting into perspective…as far as whether Zimmerman’s killing of Martin was a hate crime. As Karoli writes at C&L:

Most defense attorneys tell their clients to be quiet and let them do the talking. But George Zimmerman’s lawyers are an odd lot, and don’t seem to really be managing the public relations aspect of their client’s legal affairs very well.

After weeks of silence and weird surrogates appearing on his behalf, George Zimmerman has made himself a website asking for donations. He has done this because he’s upset about other people collecting donations in his name.

I am the real George Zimmerman,
On Sunday February 26th, I was involved in a life altering event which led me to become the subject of intense media coverage. As a result of the incident and subsequent media coverage, I have been forced to leave my home, my school, my employer, my family and ultimately, my entire life. This website’s sole purpose is to ensure my supporters they are receiving my full attention without any intermediaries.

It has come to my attention that some persons and/or entities have been collecting funds, thinly veiled as my “Defense Fund” or “Legal Fund”. I cannot attest to the validity of these other websites as I have not received any funds collected, intended to support my family and I through this trying, tragic time.
I have created a Paypal account solely linked on this website as I would like to provide an avenue to thank my supporters personally and ensure that any funds provided are used only for living expenses and legal defense, in lieu of my forced inability to maintain employment. I will also personally, maintain accountability of all funds received. I reassure you, every donation is appreciated.
Sincerely,
George Zimmerman

I love this tag line at the bottom of the page, don’t you? Also the big American flag sends a message. Of sorts.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is that good men do nothing. – Edmund Burke.

It seems ill-advised to me to put up a website that looks like a patriot or militia site with a quote they’re fond of asking for donations, one day after Fox News reports that white supremacists are now ‘patrolling’ Sanford, to say nothing of the bad taste it displays. But there it is, waiting for the donations to pour in.

You can read what she thinks of the family’s “letter to Holder” at the link.

Speaking of all this Zimmerman news, you know that law that he is hiding behind, “Stand your ground” which, btw, was supported into legislation by the group ALEC.

It appears that McDonald’s has flipped or flopped on their participation with ALEC…Exclusive: McDonald’s Says It Has Dumped ALEC | Mother Jones

McDonald’s sought to clarify its relationship with ALEC after a coalition of progressive groups with members in all 50 states, including Common Cause and Color of Change, announced plans on Tuesday to target McDonald’s for its ongoing membership in ALEC. Rashad Robinson, Color of Change’s executive director, said groups in the coalition were “flooding” McDonald’s, Johnson and Johnson, and State Farm with phone calls demanding they stop backing ALEC. “Major corporations like Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and Kraft understand that supporting voter suppression efforts and dangerous ‘Stand Your Ground’ legislation puts their brands at great risk in the black community,” Robinson said. “We hope that McDonald’s, Johnson and Johnson, and State Farm also get that message. Today, our members are flooding these companies with phone calls to demand that they stop supporting ALEC.”

“Clearly, some of these companies—Coke, Pepsi, McDonald’s—realize that it doesn’t make good business sense to be part of ALEC when ALEC has come under increased scrutiny,” said Mary Boyle, Common Cause’s vice president of communications, when told of the company’s departure from the group.

The news of McDonald’s leaving ALEC comes amidst several other high-profile departures by big-name corporations. Last week, Coca-Cola said it had decided to leave ALEC after taking heat from Color of Change and other progressive groups. Soon after, Kraft, Pepsi, and Intuit (which makes Quicken personal finance software) followed suit by ending their memberships with ALEC.

However as an update to the story states:

UPDATE: The Huffington Post reports that, in a Feburary 29 letter to Color of Change, a McDonald’s official said the company remained a member of ALEC. The letter, which raises questions about McDonald’s claim to have left ALEC, appears to be written by Pat Harris, whose title is global chief diversity officer. We’ve updated the headline of our story to make it clear that it was a McDonald’s spokeswoman who says the company has left ALEC.

After reading about all these companies and corporations that sponsor ALEC, it makes me think who isn’t a member of this “organization.”

Here is something you may have missed:Chinese politician Bo Xilai’s wife suspected of murdering Neil Heywood

The wife of high-flying Chinese politician Bo Xilai is suspected of murdering British businessman Neil Heywood, state media has reported, the latest twist in the biggest scandal to rock China‘s political class for decades.

Bo was suspended on Tuesday from powerful positions within the ruling party. His wife, the lawyer Gu Kailai, is being held in custody in connection with Heywood’s death, as is Zhang Xiaojun, who worked at the family’s home, the official news agency Xinhua reported.

Give that a read, here is a little summary of the characters at the bottom of the article.

Bo Xilai

The flamboyance and obvious ambition of the 62-year-old made him a divisive figure: admirers lauded him as a bold politician who could get things done, while detractors condemned his ruthlessness. Bo has accused critics of “pouring filth” over his family.

Gu Kailai

Bo’s second wife, now 51. The daughter of a Communist general, she became a high-profile lawyer known for an early success in helping Chinese firms win a court battle in the US.

Wang Lijun

Bo picked the 52-year-old police chief to lead the anti-gang campaign in Chongqing. Wang – renowned as a triad-busting supercop – became vice-mayor and was said to be a family friend. But strains between the men surfaced when he was reshuffled; days later, he fled to the US consulate.

Neil Heywood

The 41-year-old British businessman was a board member for an Aston Martin dealership in Beijing and a consultant for Hakluyt, the business intelligence firm. He told friends he got to know Bo’s family when both were based in the northern city of Dalian.

I’ve got a few more links for you…and since I am getting tired, these will be quick!

How Nebraska’s 20-Week Abortion Ban Became One Family’s Nightmare and Why We Need to Ban The Bans

Arizona House Passes 20-Week Gestational Abortion Ban

Ugh…is all I can say about that.

Up next, this political cartoon is on the mark:  Cagle Post » President Strangelove

Almost makes you want to see the film Dr. Strangelove doesn’t it?

Many of you may have heard about the Hillary Text site? This is funny: Hillary Clinton Thanks ‘Texts From Hillary’ Guys For The ‘LOLZ’

On Thursday, Hillary Clinton took a few minutes away from her texting (and all her other duties as secretary of state) and met with the two guys who have turned her into the latest Internet meme.

In less than a week, the blog “Texts from Hillary” has become an online sensation, boosting Clinton’s public image in the process. As Benjy Sarlin of TPM wrote, “When she was running for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton was parodied as drab and calculated, especially compared with young and vigorous Barack Obama and winking and fresh-faced Sarah Palin. Now, she’s fueling Internet jokes based on her own brand of badass cool.”

Stacy Lambe and Adam Smith, the two guys behind the site, said they received an email from a member of Clinton’s staff on Monday afternoon, out of the blue.

“We didn’t even believe it at first,” said Smith. “Stacy and I IMed each other at the same time, basically saying, ‘Oh my god, this email!’”

The staffer invited them over to the State Department, saying the secretary loved the site and wanted to meet them. Her staff also submitted Clinton’s own idea for a post to the site, which went up on Tuesday. In it, Clinton calls out Smith and Lambe for their creation (and makes a scrunchie joke).

Smith said that the submission was from the Clinton herself — although she may have had some help on it — and that they talked about it with her at the meeting. She told them that her favorite post was the one with Ryan Gosling.

Here is more…

In fact, Clinton suggested that the three of them pose in the photos with their blackberries, checking their text messages. She even whipped out her famous sunglasses.

“I would just say that her meeting with us proves the point that we were trying to make with the site,” said Smith.

Clinton also gave each of them signed copies of her “Texts from Hillary” submission.

Smith’s signed copy, on which Clinton signed her name “Hillz”:

I had to share this light-hearted story about Hillary, isn’t it great! Hillary is fantastic…

Before I end this post, I just wanted to say a few words about my little poodle, Pippin. (No not named for the Lord of the Rings character, he was actually named after the Pepin the Short, the first King of the Franks.) He died in his sleep early Easter morning. It was not a shock…he had been sick for some time…I sure do miss him. So here are a couple of tunes to my Pip…they don’t really have any significance. I just was listening to them the night before he died, so now they will always be associated with that little rag-a-muffin.

First song is You Take Me Up, from the Thompson Twins, a band I loved back in highschool…yes, cry in my sleep…that is what I’ve been doing.
And then Honky Cat, by Elton John…
Pippin was not fond of the outdoors, he would have been happy staying inside all the time, following me around the house…did I say that I miss him?
Whoa, what a week…so what sort of things are you reading about today, please share your links and hopefully I will catch y’all later in the comments below!

Pippin, from a couple years ago, could not find another picture of him...